Rosemary Ciabatta with Stout Beer

By • April 6, 2010 • 93 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a flavorful dough that I created when I was in school and I've continued to tweak. It is great eaten on its own or as a sandwich bread for many kinds of sandwiches but particularly pastrami and grilled cheese sandwiches with or without proscuitto. Some cooking notes: While I love the meditative activity of kneading dough by hand, this is a fairly wet dough and is best kneaded with the dough hook attachment on a standing mixer. One of the ways to build flavor in bread is through a longer rising time. To enhance the bread flavor, I made a pre-ferment (sometime referred to as poolish) the day before I planned to bake the bread, which was then added to the other bread ingredients on baking day. Poolish also helps make a crusty bread with irregular crumb (bigger holes), which I was looking for in creating this recipe, and also provides greater dough strength, better aroma and increased shelf life. Poolish is essentially equal parts bread flour and water with a little yeast. It takes about 5 minutes to make and is well worth the effort if you plan ahead. The recipe instructions include directions on how to do this as well as other tips on how to get a crispy crust. One of my big surprises when I was in school was that I discovered I LOVED making bread. So I've included a number of tips that I've learned along the way that have helped me. You may already know about these and more, and I apologize if it ends up being TMI! Important Note: I use instant yeast when baking bread, making it much easier to work with. If you are working with active dry yeast, multiply the instant yeast amount in the recipe by 1.5 to get the right amount of active dry yeast to use!TheWimpyVegetarian

Food52 Review: ChezSuzanne has clearly done her research with this recipe. As she notes, using a poolish makes for an extra crisp crust and a lovely, air pocket-filled crumb. The bread is a gorgeous caramel color from the combination of stout, malt syrup and honey, and the resulting loaf is chewy with a pleasant tang from the beer. The sea salt on top lends a savory crunch, and there is plenty of rosemary to go around (if you prefer a subtler flavor, you can decrease the amount by half -- we liked it nice and woodsy!). A couple of notes: we skipped the scale when separating the dough in half and eyeballed it (your choice), and our bread took only 25 minutes to bake, so check it well before the 30-minute mark. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 2 boules

Poolish (Pre-ferment)

  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (1/4 tsp X 1.5 if using Active Dry Yeast)
  • 210 grams water at 70 degrees F
  • 210 grams bread flour (I recommend King Arthur bread flour)
  1. Mix the yeast and water together in a small bowl. Add the flour and mix well with a spoon. Cover and let rest at room temperature at least 12 hours, ideally overnight.
  2. Before using, check to make sure the yeast has grown as evidenced by many air bubbles on the surface of the dough and enhanced dough mass.

Rosemary Ciabatta with Stout Beer

  • 15 ounces bread flour (I recommend King Arthur bread flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (multiply this amount by 1.5 if using Active Dry Yeast)
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 10 ounces poolish (from recipe provided above)
  • 8 ounces Stout beer (other beers can be used as well)
  • 2 teaspoons malt syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • fleur de sel for sprinkling on top of each boule
  1. Combine the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl of a standing mixer and mix with a whisk. Add the poolish, beer, malt syrup, olive oil and honey. If using Active Dry Yeast, add it at this time with the other wet ingredients. Using the hook attachment, mix for 5-7 minutes at the lowest speed. The dough should be wet and sticky to the touch. If it is too wet, add a little bread flour; if too dry, add a little more beer. It should be a fairly smooth dough at this stage.
  2. Sprinkle the minced rosemary over the dough and increase the mixer speed to the next highest level and mix for 2 minutes. When you're finished, there are two ways to check and see if the dough is ready for it's first rising: (1) detach the dough hook and pull up on the dough with the hook to see if the dough is very elastic and moves with the hook or if the dough breaks/tears; (2) take a piece of dough the size of 2 large marbles and with your fingers carefully stretch it out pulling on 4 corners of the dough to see if it stretches or tears as you pull on the it. If the dough tears fairly easily in either test, more kneading is necessary. What you're doing in this stage is to develop the gluten, or elasticity of the dough.
  3. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it and place it someplace warm for the first rising until it doubles in size. This can take 3 to 3 1/2 hours. During this stage of rising, uncover the dough each hour and pull up one side of the dough and fold it over on itself to essentially fold the dough in half. This is done to help build structure in the bread. Tips if you can't find a warm place for the dough to rise: heat a cup of water in the microwave oven to really hot, turn the microwave off and put the bowl of covered dough in the microwave with the cup of water. Or place the covered bowl near the stove if you're cooking, (being careful that it doesn't get too hot!).
  4. Weigh the dough and divide in half to form 2 boules or loaves. Loosely pre-shape each boule or loaf and place on a parchment lined baking sheet(s). Cover with a towel and plastic wrap and let rest for 10 - 20 minutes.
  5. Perform final shaping of the boules or loaves on a lightly floured board. Place back on the parchment lined baking sheet(s) for the 2nd rising. Re-cover with a towel and plastic and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Preheat the oven to 450F. I place a pizza stone in the oven on the rack I plan to use and an empty metal pan in the bottom of the oven. If using the pizza stone, allow time for the oven to be at 450F for about an hour so that the stone is completely preheated.
  6. Score the boules or loaves with an oiled razor blade, spray lightly with water, sprinkle with the fleur de sel and place the baking sheet on top of the pizza stone. The pizza stone will help keep the baking sheet at a constant temperature while the bread bakes. Just before closing the oven door, throw a bunch of ice cubes or cold water into the hot metal pan at the bottom of the oven to create a little steam.
  7. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes. In the first 10 minutes of baking, open the oven door just long enough to squirt some water on the sides of the oven with a squirt bottle. If you don't have one, just get your hands wet and fling the water at the sides of the oven to create steam. Do this 3 times, but not after the first 10 minutes of baking. During the last 5 minutes of baking, open the oven door. A crisper crust is encouraged by shots of steam in the beginning of baking, and by a dry oven at the end.
  8. The bread is ready when it's internal temperature reaches 200F. To check, I pull the boule from the oven and stick a probe into the bottom.
  9. Because this is a wet bread, especially compared to french bread, let it cool before serving.
  10. Bon appetit!
Jump to Comments (93)

Comments (93) Questions (0)

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9 months ago Sjm1988

This bread was amazing! I was a bit skeptical that it would bake properly (the dough was so wet!) but the end result was fantastic. Two loaves didn't last an hour in a house of 4...

Me

9 months ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I'm so glad you liked it! It is indeed a very wet dough - all Ciabatta is, by definition since it creates the unique texture with all the holes. Thanks so much for letting me know!

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10 months ago Rosemary

Where do you get Malt syrup?

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10 months ago shankopotomus

Beer supply store or Amazon. Can be light or dark or very dark. Choose wisely.

Me

10 months ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I got mine at Whole Foods. It's called Barley Malt Syrup on the bottle by Eden Organic.

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10 months ago Luiz

Maravilha de receita! Vou fazer.

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about 1 year ago Michelle Trim

UPDATE! Bread turned out AMAZING. Yielded 2 beautiful 1lb loaves. Loved the salt crunch on the outside, loved the soft inside, loved the complex flavor. Still airy even with 15% whole wheat flour.

Me

about 1 year ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Yay!!!!! I'm so glad it worked out for you!!!! I love the idea of subbing molasses for the malt syrup. Great idea. Thanks so much for letting me know :-)

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about 1 year ago Michelle Trim

Mine is on the second rise and almost ready to go in the oven. I subbed molassus for the malt syrup and I used about 3 oz of whole wheat bread flour to give it more texture. I ended up adding about an oz of beer and had a perfect dough. Sticky, but not super wet. Had no trouble shaping it, though it is rather subject to gravity. Not sure how loaf like it will be after this rise. I also eyeballed the split, but weighed everything else. We'll see what happens!

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over 1 year ago Al Story

Look at your comments in the quotation marks below please. Then, I would like to know how one determines what is too wet and sticky and what is too dry. Can you definitively describe what you mean by those words?
"The dough should be wet and sticky to the touch. If it is too wet, add a little bread flour; if too dry, add a little more beer. "

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almost 2 years ago shankopotomus

Just a few comments to the author and a few to the comments. Please use only one unit of measure. Grams or oz. Either will work but both will not. You might also want to use bakers percent as this is scalable. Commenters, ciabatta is a ver wet dough and not meant to be shaped in a traditional sense. Flour your table well, flour the dough in its bulk ferment bin or bowl. Dump out onto table. Flour the top well. Cut shapes once the dough flattens out naturally and put on well floured peel and bake on stone. Should be slipper shape, hence the name.

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almost 3 years ago Demington

I do not have a mixer and wonder if this bread could be made following the no-knead Lahey method. Otherwise I will have to use my hands. Surely ciabatta style breads predate electric mixers...

Thanks for your help. I do love dark, earthy breads. Each week, i use the Lahey method for bread made with my homemade levain.

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about 3 years ago KatinaP

My dough was super wet, too. Couldn't even shape it. Used just 10 oz of poolish and added additional flour during the mixing. Instead of using a loaf pan, I used the Lahey dutch oven method: heat the oven with a dutch oven inside and then place the dough inside the very hot pot and cook covered for the first 20 min. Uncover to finish the cooking. No need to spray with water or use ice since the wetness of the dough and the heat of the dutch oven create enough steam to create a great crust. I used molasses instead of malt syrup and that seemed to work.

Me

about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Thanks for your feedback, KatinaP, and I'm glad it ultimately worked although it sounds like it was too wet for shaping. I'm going make it again and see if I need to make adjustments in the recipe for this. Ciabatta, by definition, is a very wet dough which gives it the holes, but you should be able to work with it more than it sounds like you could. Really appreciate your comments!

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about 3 years ago KatinaP

My dough was super wet, too. Couldn't even shape it. Used just 10 oz of poolish and added additional flour during the mixing. Instead of using a loaf pan, I used the Lahey dutch oven method: heat the oven with a dutch oven inside and then place the dough inside the very hot pot and cooked covered for the first 20 min. Uncover to finish the cooking. No need to spray with water or use ice in the pan since the wetness of the dough and the heat of the dutch oven create enough steam to create a great crust. I used molasses instead of malt syrup and that seemed to work.

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over 3 years ago annbridges

so what if I already have a poolish started? how do I use that..just getting to "know bread..."

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over 3 years ago ashleyamore

Made these last night for our Easter brunch today and couldn't help but cut into them this morning to slather with honey butter. Yum!

I'm not a frequent bread baker, and rarely use my standing mixer for kneading when I do bake bread. For the first time, the kneading performed by the hook jammed the bowl deep in the stand, and I had a hell of a time getting the damn thing out.

I will say that it was worth it! Delicous bread :)
(and I was so glad to see that golden syrup worked as a substitution for malt syrup - it's what I had on hand, so that's what I used!)

Me

over 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I'm so sorry the hook jammed!! But I'm really glad you liked the bread anyway. Sorry it took me so long to respond - I've been on vacation and was unplugged for awhile. But I really appreciate the feedback!

Coopers

almost 4 years ago aussiefoodie

Wow - this was wonderful bread! I couldn't find malt syrup, so used golden syrup instead - I think it probably didn't have as strong a flavor as the malt syrup would add, but it still tasted delicious. The stout gives a lovely brown color, and the texture was very nice - small bubbles and enough denseness and airness to give a lovely, chewy loaf. I forgot to fold the dough over on itself during the first rising, but this didn't seem to cause any problems, the bread turned out great. Would love to try this again, with some different beers and maybe even different herb flavors.

Me

almost 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I'm so glad you liked it so much! And thanks so much for the feedback - I really appreciate it. And I'm so glad golden syrup worked as a good substitute for the malt syrup. Is it a sweet syrup?

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Have you ever made this without a stand mixer? I don't have one, so must improvise . . . Am hoping to use this for melissav's stuffing with chorizo . . . . Thanks so much. ;o)

Me

about 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I've never made it without a stand mixer. It's a pretty wet dough, so let me do some thinking too. We'll be gone Thanksgiving week, and am also trying to think about my schedule tomorrow and if I can get mine to you to use. It's pretty big....

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

CS, you're so kind. I've given this some more thought and decided, in light of my work schedule (client work all weekend, and from early morning until night Monday through Wednesday) that I probably should just buy (I can't believe I said that) an artisan bread to use for this. I can borrow a mixer of a friend nearby if and when I get the chance to try this recipe. Thank you, though, for your generous offer. Have a safe trip! ;o)

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Have you ever made this in shapes other than boules? Am wondering about making traditional ciabattas ("little slippers" in Italian, the one-sandwich-size kind) for T-Day + 1, 2, etc. Am definitely making this, one way or the other. ;o)

Me

about 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

That sounds like a wonderful idea! I've only made it in boules, but I can't imagine why you couldn't make them in the small traditional size. I started developing the recipe when I was in culinary school and was making it there for 15 people to try as worked on my "versions". This would go great with your turkey and speck sandwiches. My favorite sandwiches with this bread are proscuitto and arugula sandwiches with mustard and swiss cheese. The only caution, and you likely know this, is that ciabatta is a very wet bread and is more difficult to work with when it's raining outside. This is best made on a sunny dry day. I would love to hear how this turns out if you make the smaller ones and to see a picture if you have a chance to take a snap. And how funny, I just picked up multi-grain cereal to make your multi-grain bread this weekend using Tom's tip with the breadcrumbs!!

Me

about 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I meant to say ciabatta is a very wet dough, not wet bread.

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over 4 years ago lapadia

As you have probably noticed by now, I love baking breads; I am definately adding your ciabatta recipe to my "to do" bread list. I have a ciabatta recipe using all white bread flour...King Arthur and often I use a bit of King Arthut's white wheat. I have experimented, with resting the poolish for only a couple hours, forming the loaf, let it rise for a couple more hours and then bake...it came out with the moist, holey crumb and crisp chewy crust...good flavor too, however, resting the full 12 hours to overnight yields a better flavor. The method I experimented with is not traditional, but that is what I like to do when playing in the kitchen...have some non-traditional fun!

Massimo's_deck_reflection_10_27_13

over 4 years ago lapadia

OH...and Congrats on the win!

Me

over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I love baking and experimenting with bread too. There's something about it that becomes a meditation for me and a link to all the generations of women who made their family's bread. I've done a shorter poolish too and agree it works fine, but like to go for the longer ferment for added flavor too. Good luck with all your bread baking, and keep those great bread recipes coming! I'm making your pita bread hopefully today.

Audrey_and_sarah

over 4 years ago hennef7

Suzanne,

I'd like to try this but don't have any malt syrup in my pantry....can you suggest a substitution please.

Me

over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

We were on vacation for 3 weeks and still catching up and just now seeing your question. Let me do a little homework for you on this. My instinct says you can just omit it. It affects the beer flavor and a little sweetness. The dough is already a pretty wet dough, so I'm not sure I would add any more beer to make up for it, but maybe a little more honey wouldn't go amiss.

Food52_photo

over 4 years ago ENunn

Bravo! Thanks for this recipe!

Steve_dunn02

over 4 years ago Oui, Chef

Way to go, Suzanne! I have hardly any experience baking bread, but I'm going to give this one a try....the stout compels me. - S

Me

over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Thanks very much!! We made a lot of bread in school which I ended up loving to make so much more than I ever had thought I would. Hope you enjoy it too. Just remember ciabatta is a very wet beer and not, in my opinion, to ever be kneaded by hand. Any kind of beer works, BTW, but the paler the beer, the way less beer flavor you will have. You have to at least have a hearty amber to even taste the beer in the bread.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats ChezSuzanne!

Me

over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Thanks so much mrslarkin!