Don’t let the photo fool you, the bread turned out rather disgusting, both in taste and texture. I guess I’m on a ciabatta roller coaster having great success recently, now followed by a ciabatta disaster.
I enjoyed the ciabatta bread made in less than 5 hours and figured the full-length version must taste EVEN better. I thumbed through my recipe books and looked online, settling for a recipe from Epicurious. The recipe required a ‘sponge’ to be made the night before. I whipped the sponge together in a matter of minutes and let it set until the next day, about 18 hours later. On the following day, I carefully measured the ingredients and heated liquids to exactly how they were listed. The dough was much stiffer than with the 5-hour ciabatta but I assumed this must be what ‘real’ ciabatta dough is like.
It wasn’t until the loaves were baking that I had my first inkling something was wrong. The loaves looked ‘too smooth’ and not as rustic. I patiently let them cool before cutting into the first loaf only to discover a typical bread texture.
There weren’t any holes and the texture wasn’t chewy at all. And to add insult to injury, it didn’t even taste good – just bland. Such a disappointment. I’m not sure what I could have done wrong to make the bread such a flop. The yeast didn’t seem bad either, so I chalked this one up to a ‘bad day’.
Then today, I received a comment on the 5-hour ciabatta post and it got me to thinking. The recipe I used for the 5-hour ciabatta had been written using weight measurements and I weighed everything accordingly on a kitchen scale. Kate mentioned that she tried making the recipe without a scale and using varying amounts of flour from 2 to 4 cups. She wondered how many cups are equivalent to 17.6 ounces called for in the recipe.
It’s interesting how weight vs. volume measurements can throw off a recipe. With weight, a pound is a pound. With volume measurement, how you measure ingredients can greatly impact the recipe. I decided to test this out for myself in trying to answer her question on how many cups are in 17.6 ounces.
I started by using a spoon to shake the flour onto my scale. I measured the 17.6 ounces of flour, then spooned the flour into my measuring cups. Using this method, 17.6 ounces of flour was equivalent to about 3.5 cups of flour.
I decided to now try the reverse. I normally dip my measuring cup into the flour bag, then level off the cup. I used this method to scoop out 3.5 cups of flour, then weighed on the kitchen scale. The 3.5 cups of flour measured this way ended up weighing 22.5 ounces, a difference of 4.9 ounces! Pretty significant.
This could explain the issue I had over the weekend with my ciabatta bread, since I did scoop versus using a spoon to fill my measuring cup (which I believe is how you’re supposed to do it). I guess I’m destined to be a rule breaker.
So, the big question is — how does everyone else measure their flour? Do you spoon it into your measuring cup or do you scoop it out of the bag/container with your measuring cup?