A ciabatta baguette ready for lunch

Hugo's picture

Next thing on my agenda was to test "overnight proofing", or "retarded dough" (or something like that).

The recipe is:

80g starter at 100% hydration
100g kamut flour (whole grain)
100g bottled water

410g unbleached white organic flour
240g bottled water
8g salt

(I’ve calculated a 70% hydration level, and 36% sponge/bread ratio.)

Here is the timeline of what I did this time:


8h00 Refreshed my starter.

15h00 Prepared the sponge.

20h30 Mixed the dough. Autolyse 30 minutes.

21h00 to 23h00 Fold 2x every hour.

23h00 Put the dough in the fridge, in a glass bowl, covered with a damp towel.


8h00 (I was supposed to wake up at 7am but oops) Got the dough out of the fridge. It has doubled overnight.

9h00 Shaped the 2 baguettes in linen folds. Covered with a damp towel

(Pre-heated the oven and pizza stone to 500F)
11h00 Slashed the dough, cooked for 30 minutes at 475F, with a bowl of water, reducing heat to 450F after 15 min.

I think the dough was overproofed but I’m not familiar with high hydration bread. Also one of the two baguettes was a bit overcooked (almost burnt on the underside), but the other was just right. The taste was mild and very pleasant, with nutty undertones due to kamut. The dough was very sticky and hard to manipulate. Next time I will use a different timeline and put the final shaped dough in the fridge instead.

Anyway my Facebook friends are jaleous.

294 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 April 3

Well done Hugo,

I calculate 69% and 30% but then who's counting.

I think the move to retarding the shaped loaves is probably the right way to go.  Am I right in assuming the water was in for the whole baking time?  If so maybe take it out after ten or so minutes and maybe reduce the heat at the same time.

Perhaps you could also consider turning the loaves as it seems that you might have a hot spot in your oven if the two loaves are baking differentially.

Keep on bakin'


Hugo's picture
Hugo 2013 April 4

You’re right about hydration being wrong. My starter was at 120% but I’ve made a typo when copying the data here!

I’ve moved my starter to a new "wide mouth" plastic jar yesterday and it’s now easier to stir at 100%. Things are getting simpler and more efficicent.

To answer your question, I’ve removed the water from the oven after 20 minutes (and reduced heat to 450F).

I hate that big round pizza stone I use, it barely fits on the oven rack and prevents the heat from circulating properly. I’ve started looking for a smaller one, but no luck yet. Perhaps I should pre-heat the oven at a slightly lower temperature when baking baguette or ciabatta. All my breads show signs of uneven cooking. I’ll find a solution.

I currently live in a "town house" in a "uniformized" housing project so I am not allowed to build anything in the backyard, install a wood stove (indoors or outdoors) or even have a garden! It’s so annoying. We’re supposed to move to a new house in late 2013 or 2014 and I’ll certainly include a wood stove, and perhaps an outdoor bread oven (traditional). And of course I’ll start growing my own herbs again, that’ll be great in ciabatta and on pizza bread.

Hugo's picture
Hugo 2013 April 4

Just had an idea about the steam issue. Would it make sense to put a pre-heated tin (or cast iron) kettle in the oven, instead of a pot filled with water? I can see many advantages of doing so, for example more steam production due to the pressure buildup in the kettle. But of course you’d have to choose a kettle with no plastic or wooden parts (e.g. the handle).

farinam's picture
farinam 2013 April 4

Hi Hugo,

When I add steam to my oven, I place racks on the two lowest levels and put the stone on the top one and a corning ware pie dish on the bottom one.  Then five or so minutes before the loaf goes in, I add boiling water from a kettle into the pie dish.  You need to take care and use oven mitts because there is a rush of steam and lots of spitting initially.  This technique seems to avoid any great temperature loss.

Then I take the steam dish out after 10-12 minutes and start lowering the temperature at the same time.  If you leave the steam in too long I think it gives you a pale crust, it needs time to dry and brown.  Also too low a rack position will give you a dark base and a pale top (and vice versa) unless you are using fan-forced.

Good luck with your projects.


Hugo's picture
Hugo 2013 April 4

I usually put the pizza stone on the lowest rack position, so I will try on the second-to-last.

I’ve already tested what happens when putting steam for the whole baking process (with a yeasted bread) and the crust was super chewy, pale, tasteless, and not fun at all. It reminded me of some of the sorry "fresh" commercial baguette they sell at the supermarket.

Post Reply

Already a member? Login