CIABATTA BREAD-MAKING AND PIZZA MARINARA IN A WOOD-FIRED PIZZA OVEN

I fancied making ciabatta bread rolls this week.  Only because I'd never made them before and I had some bread flour that was nearing its use by date.  I've made bread in the wood-fired pizza oven before but not ciabatta.

I found some standard wood-fired recipes off the internet.  The first thing I needed to make was "biga", the night before the bake.  It's the starter used to create those lovely big holes in the bread. That was the easy part.  It was just like making a small amount of dough and leaving it to room proof for 24 hours.

I used a US version of the dough recipe and I had to convert the Cups into Grams and this may be where I went a bit wrong!  I searched for how many Grams in a Cup and I found an answer that stated 128g for flour and 237g for water.  I'm still not sure if those measurements are correct but they are the ones I used for this recipe.  This recipe stated they used all purpose flour and I was using bread flour.  Looking back there is a difference to the Gram amount for all purpose and bread flour.  So it's 128g for All Purpose flour and 136g for Bread flour.  This explains why my dough mixture was so runny.

BIGA

  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1 cup all purpose flour

DOUGH

  • 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon yeast, Biga, 4 cups all purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

I placed all of the ingredients into the bread-maker and switched the dough option on.  But the consistency was so runny the blade just swished around.  There was no way the ingredients I had placed in there would form a dough.  So not to waste what I had already started I added more flour - pouring it in until it formed a very wet consistency that I'd be able to pick up.  I added at least another 1.5 Cups to the mixture.   This dough has a very high hydration level and it's very wet to handle.  It sticks to everything like glue so you'll need to get your hands floured up just to handle it!  I got flour everywhere and I had dough sticking to my sink and taps!

Whilst the dough was getting its second and final room proof for an hour  - I was busy getting the pizza oven temperature down to 250c.   I placed the dough on a metal peel covered in parchment to stop the very wet dough from sticking to the peel.  That worked and after a few turns and about 20 minutes later the rolls were ready.

What did I learn from this first cook?  

  • Try not to get flour and the sticky dough everywhere - this dough is very wet and sticks like glue to everything!
  • Biga is really easy to make and it's a fantastic starter.
  • Placing the dough balls on a metal peel/tray with parchment for the final rise is a really good idea.
  • The flour you use may affect the consistency of your dough and a bit of tweaking may be required.
  • Using parchment is a really good idea and it doesn't burst into flames in the oven!
  • Keep an eye on your bread - regular turning is needed.  Also, you will be close enough to smell it cooking or burning!

PIZZA MARINARA

Of all the pizzas I've made - this recipe frightens me the most.  I think my last attempt on video making this Pizza Marinara was a disaster and ended up in my Pizza Fail Playlist.  It's taken me at least a year to make this again.  I have bad pizza memories of the experience!  And what is my greatest fear about this recipe you may ask?  It's the olive oil.  The final set of this recipe is pouring rather a lot of olive oil onto the dough.  And if you don't get that pizza straight into the oven, the oil seeps into the dough and there you have it - a disaster in the making!

Even with this cook I didn't quite get it right.  ARGH.  My oven wasn't quite ready because I forgot to add the log 5 minutes before.  This meant I had to wait for the oven stone to increase in temperature whilst my oil was seeping into the dough!  After all of the cooks I've made I can pretty much get away with these little issues - but not with the Marinara!

The pizza cooked well and quite fast for me too which was nice.  The basil melted beautifully into the sauce and the oil prevented its delicate leaves from burning.  Those ingredients are so tasty together - a real pizza classic.  So, if you are new to making Marinara - just remember that once you pour that oil onto the dough, try and get your pizza into the oven as soon as you can.

See you next week!

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