JOHN'S MUSHROOM CIABATTA
This is a long, quite complex recipe, it's a bit labour intensive and the
bread is a challenge if you're not used to dealing with hydration levels in
the 80%+ range. But, I kid you not, it's a stunner. The two sets of
measurements are NOT Mix 'n' Match, they are in the same ratio but not
direct conversions. Use one set or the other and "Don't mess with Mr Inbetween"
50 gm (2 oz) rye flour
450 gm (1 lb 2 oz) high-protein white flour
850 gm (2 lb 2 oz) water
1/2 tsp instant yeast
200 gm (8 oz) sieved ( coarse bran removed - see notes) wholewheat "bread"
300 gm (12 oz)high-protein white flour
20 gm (3/4 oz) salt
1 tsp instant yeast
20 grams (3/4 oz) dried porcini
2 heads (yes, heads) of garlic, at least 20 cloves, peeled and thickly
sliced, 4 - 5 slices per clove
1 kilo (2 1/2 pounds) cultivated mushrooms (Agaricus Bisporus) sliced 5mm
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to adjust seasoning
Mix the Poolish ingredients to a smooth batter and leave AT ROOM
TEMPERATURE overnight. The resultant goo will smell strongly of sour rye
and yeast by-products.
Add the dough's dry ingedients to the Poolish and mix roughly until just
hydrated. Leave for 20 minutes. Mix with a wet spoon or hand (Thanks to my
American lady baking correspondent for pointing out that a cupped hand is
more effective than a spoon in doughs like this.) for 2 minutes or so,
until fairly smooth.
Flour your counter, generously, and scrape the very wet dough onto the
flour, dust all over with more flour and use a scraper to help you roll
the dough in the flour until it's coated all over. Leave for 10 minutes,
sprinkle more flour around the dough and use your scraper under the dough
to release it. With floured hands perform a stretch and fold. Leaving to
relax as necessary, repeat the stretch and fold 3 more times, then leave to
rise for about an hour - 1.5 - 2 times growth, covered with whatever you
normally use, in my case, floured tea-towels.
While the dough is rising, prepare the mushrooms. Just cover the porcini
with very hot water and leave to soak. Heat the oil on low heat in a large,
deep sided skillet or a Wok, which is what I use. Add the garlic and fry
gently, without browning, until soft. Add the mushrooms to the pan with the
salt and pepper, turn the heat up and fry the mushrooms until they give out
their liquid, there will be a lot of it. Turn the heat to max and, stirring
occasionally, cook the mushrooms until the juice has almost disappeared and
the oil is starting to separate at the edges of the mixture. Drain the
porcini through a fine sieve into the pan, add the lemon juice, chop the
porcini, roughly, and add to the pan. Cook fast until the added liquid is
gone and the mushrooms are beginning to show a few touches of brown. Leave
to cool and adjust the seasoning when at room temperature. They should be
as highly seasoned as you find acceptable.
Flatten and spread the dough out to as large a rectangle as you can, before
the dough becomes too elastic, by dimpling the dough with floured
fingertips. Spread as much of the mushroom mixture on the top of the dough
as will completely cover 2/3 of the rectangle at least one musroom slice
thick. Don't be too fanatical about it. Fold the dough like a letter,
trapping the mushrooms between layers of dough. If you haven't
incorporatedall the mushrooms ( it always takes me at least two foldings.),
leave the dough to relax for about 15 minutes and repeat the
dimpling/spreading/folding. Repeat, if necessary, to use all the mushrooms.
Leave 15 minutes and dimple and fold again to distribute the mushrooms.
Flour the top of the dough and cut into 4 rectangles and, with floured
hands, tuck the exposed mushrooms under the sides of each piece. There will
still be exposed mushrooms, dont worry, they crisp in the baking and are
Proof the loaves until doubled. Use whatever method you favour for moving
fragile proofed dough into the oven. Magic Carpet and a Superpeel for me.
Bake at max, on stones, steam optional, can't say it made a difference in
my bakes, for about 1/2 hour, minimum internal temperature of 90C (195F).
Cool on racks for at least 1 hour before eating unless you intend to
consume the bread warm with Tahini, which is a magnificent combination, if
a little powerful in flavour for those with delicate palates.
Sieved wholewheat is just wholewheat flour passed through a kitchen sieve
and the coarse bran that remains in the sieve discarded.
The dough is a bit of a bugger to handle but the elastic crumb produced, in
part, by the high hydration is magnificent.
The bread is obviously a Ciabatta variant but it is a lean dough so should
not keep as long as a typical Ciabatta made with oil and milk but the
mushrooms keep the bread moist for a couple of days and there's never any
left by then anyway<g>
The rye in the poolish is absolutely necessary.