One of the advantages of baking a lot of bread is that you get to experiment a lot. You know — mess around. Yesterday I made a non-existent bread (non c’e, or non esiste as you would say in Italian), 50% whole wheat, 50% AP Ciabatta. The funny part of this is that a Ciabatta is a light Italian hearth bread made with a very wet dough and baked in a hot steamy oven so that it develops really big holes in the crumb. It is traditionally made with Tipo 00 flour, which is much lighter than American bread flour. It’s a really light and airy bread.
So Ciabatta meets 50% whole wheat flour is something of an oxymoron. Jumbo shrimp.
But we wanted a light bread for a weekend dinner and I wanted to do something somewhat healthy. So I simply followed the formula for a traditional Ciabatta and swapped out 50% of the AP flour with white whole wheat flour. Then I baked it in a hot (high 500F’s) brick oven with a couple of good shots of steam. It baked a lot faster than the two whole wheat boules I also baked at the same time.
It was fun. Certainly not a work of art, and possibly not even something I will do again (we’ll see), but the flavor was really good and the texture was a mix of light and chewy/nutty. At some level, one of the more interesting aspects of the bread was the simple incongruity of the whole thing.
The story concluded this evening, when we made the second half of the loaf into Bruschetta, along with grilled salmon. Equally unusual, but still good. Of course everything tastes great with our Tuscan extra virgin olive oil — the perfect finishing oil for bruschetta.