Food52sday Recipe Interpretation: Rosemary Whole Wheat Ciabatta with ESB

sliced ciabatta 003I love Food52sdays! Have I told you that? I mean, the recipe inspirations are all so good that it's really hard to go wrong. I've yet to run across a Bum Recipe, and that can't always be said for recipes printed in cookbooks. Nice job, editor people!

The recipe inspiration this week was from ChezSuzanne (The Wimpy Vegetarian), and called for a poolish, stout beer and a moist oven to encourage a crackly crust.  I indeed made the poolish (which is Fancy Talk for equal parts of flour and water with a smidge of yeast left to sit for twelve or so hours).  I made the dough with a mixture of bread flour, all purpose flour and white whole wheat flour (all made by King Arthur) and added an overnight rest in the fridge for the dough after a long, slow rise during the day.  Instead of using stout, I used one of The Beloved's home brews, an ESB. ESB stands for Extra Special (or Stout) Bitter. It's very hoppy on the front end and malty on the back end. Perfect for this--the piney hoppiness reinforced the rosemary up front while the maltiness added to the bready flavor profile in the finish. An excellent choice, indeed.

ciabatta 004Also, rather than brushing my dough with water and sprinkling it with flake salt (which also would have been nice), I just doused the loaves with flour.  And because I did that, the last thing I wanted to encourage was a super moist oven since I didn't want the flour coating to end up as paste. So, dry oven it was.

Before I get to the Recipe Proper, a few comments are in order.  Susan's original recipe calls for 3 teaspoons (or 1 Tablespoon) of kosher salt. I thought, "Yippee! A recipe with enough salt in it!" and poured it in.  When I first tasted the dough, it was bordering on too salty, and I got A Little Concerned.  Which is why I decided to just flour the top of the loaves rather than salt them. I sliced the bread while still just a bit warm, and again I thought, "Whoa, maybe too much salt..."

sliced ciabatta 011Then, once the bread was completely cool, The Beloved and I began to Compulsively Eat It, dousing it with extra virgin olive oil and chompling it with some room temperature cheddar. And we decided the bread was Nigh On To Perfect: Chewy, even crumb. Chewy crust with the slightest hint of bitterness from the white whole wheat flour on top. The perfume of the rosemary.  Dang, it was some Good Bread. Honestly, I might cut the salt back by 1/2 teaspoon or so when I make this again, but then again, maybe I won't. My initial Concerns faded into ravenous hunger, and only one loaf remains.  I'd take that as Strong Loafal Approval.

Please, try out the original recipe, try my version or do your own thing. But do make this; it is Very Good Indeed!

Rosemary Whole Wheat Ciabatta with ESB
Recipe type: Bread
The poolish coupled with a long, slow rise and a rest in the fridge all work together to produce a loaf with complex flavor, an even and chewy crumb and a lovely blistered crust. Use whatever beer you have on hand, but I'd recommend a robust ale of some sort. This is NOT the time to break out the Bud.
What You Need
For the Poolish
  • 5 oz. all purpose flour
  • 5 oz. room temperature water
  • heavy pinch of yeast
For the Ciabatta
  • 10 oz. of poolish
  • 5 oz. bread flour
  • 5 oz. white wheat flour
  • 5 oz. all purpose flour
  • squirt of honey
  • 2½ teaspoons dry malt powder (available at home brew stores) or 1 Tablespoon malt syrup (available at health food stores)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (if you only have fine salt, reduce the amount to 2 teaspoons and taste from there)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried yeast
  • about 8-10 oz. room temperature ESB (or beer of choice)
  • 2½ Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • about ½ cup flour--all purpose, bread or white whole wheat, for sprinkling
What To Do
For the Poolish
  1. Mix flour, water and yeast together.
  2. Cover loosely and let sit out at room temperature for about twelve hours (more is fine, but don't go crazy).
For the Ciabatta
  1. The original recipe calls for adding ingredients in a certain order. I just used the straight dough method and dumped everyone, except for the olive oil and ½ cup of flour, into the pool at once. This worked out nicely.
  2. Dump all the ingredients--except for the olive oil and ½ cup of flour--in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or in a large bowl if you're doing this by hand). Start by adding just 8 oz of beer.
  3. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes and on medium-low speed for another 7-8 minutes. The dough should be sticky and slumpy when the mixer is stopped. It's okay if it sticks in the bottom of the bowl, but it should clear the sides. Add extra beer, a little at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. If you're unsure, err on the side of a little too much liquid as opposed to a little too little. (If making by hand, mix the dough with a wooden spoon, then grease your hands and knead by hand for a good 15-20 minutes--kneading right in your big old bowl is fine, or you can dump it out onto your counter). Oil your hands as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. This will also deter you from adding extra flour and ending up with a dry loaf. You're welcome).
  4. Check to see that the dough is ready for rising by oiling your hands and pulling a piece out. It should be very stretchy--you should be able to pull it out farther than you think before it tears.
  5. Leave the dough in the mixer bowl and spread 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over it to keep it from drying out.
  6. Cover it loosely and let it rise at room temperature for several hours.
  7. Whenever you think about it, fold the dough over on itself to help redistribute the yeast.
  8. Put the bowl of dough in the fridge in the evening, and then pull it out again in the morning. Twelve hours or so in the fridge is ideal.
  9. Pour another Tablespoon of olive oil onto the dough and let it come up to room temperature and slowly rise again for another 3 hours or so, folding it over when you think about it.
  10. At the end of the rise, press all the gases out of the dough and divide it into two equal parts. Mine weighed 17.5 oz apiece.
  11. Shape each into kind of an oblong and place them on a greased cookie sheet a good 6 inches apart, because they'll spread a bit.
  12. Liberally sprinkle each loaf all over with the flour. Be so liberal that it's not really a sprinkle but a downpour.
  13. Cover the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for a good couple of hours. The loaves will almost double in size, and you'll see cracks in the flour layer.
  14. Preheat your oven to 450F and set your oven rack to the lowest setting. If you have a pizza stone, put it on the rack. Let the oven preheat for at least 30-45 minutes.
  15. Put the cookie sheet on the baking stone (if using) and bake until the internal temperature of the loaves is about 200F-210F. In my oven, this took about 22 minutes. Start checking at 20. If you don't have an instant-read thermometer, you can thump the loaves on the bottoms. If they sound hollow, they're done.
  16. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Take the loaves off of the cookie sheet and let them cool on wire racks so their bottoms don't get soggy. Don't slice them until they're just barely warm. If you can wait until they're completely cool, that's even better.

I'm pretty sure there's nothing left to say. Either I've convinced you to make this or I haven't. I hope I have, though. It is fantastic.

To see Terra's version over at Cafe Terra, click here!

sliced ciabatta 015If you participated in Food52sday this week, please leave a link to your post in the comments here or over on the fan page.  I'll update this post as (if) they come in.

Thanks, and have a lovely day.







  1. says

    Jenni, it’s gorgeous, just like I thought it would be! I’ve never made a poolish, but this one might put me over the edge. And the beer just brings this all together. Loving it!

  2. says

    I’m so excited and honored you made my bread recipe, and am thrilled that you liked it!! Your photos of it are beautiful. Now I’m looking forward to seeing your next recipes from the book. It’s really packed full of wonderful recipes.


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