CIABATTA, A CLASSIC ITALIAN BREAD

I’ve made it before during the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, but was not very happy with the way it turned out.   Hard to believe that it took me 17 months to bake another batch, but time tends to fly by me.   November?  Are we in November already?  What happened to 2010, that started just the other day?   ;-)

Ciabatta, take two: the recipe from  “The Italian Baker” calls for a mixture of flour, water, and yeast made the day before (the “biga“), and used as part of the final dough.  A total fermentation time of 3 hours allowed us to have the bread in time for lunch, as it bakes very quickly, less than 25 minutes.   I am quite pleased with this recipe, I suppose that it would work even better in a real oven, but my Breville rose to the challenge!

CIABATTA
(from The Italian Baker)

for biga:
1/8 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup + 1 Tbs water at room temperature
1 + 1/4 cup all purpose flour (165 g)

Dissolve yeast in water, add the flour and form a sticky dough.  Leave it covered at room temperature for 16 to 24 hours.

for the final dough:
2.5 Tbs milk
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5.5 ounces water (1/2 cup + 1.5 Tbs)
1/2 T olive oil
1 cup biga (250 g)
250 g all purpose flour
1/2 Tbs salt (7.5 g)

If kneading in a mixer, stir the yeast in the milk  and let it stand for  a  couple of minutes in the bowl.  Add the water, oil, the biga, and mix to incorporate, dissolving the biga in the liquid. Add the flour and salt, and mix at low speed for a couple of minutes.   Change to the dough hook and knead 2 minutes at low speed, and 2 minutes at medium speed.  Finish kneading by hand on a well-floured surface, but adding as little extra flour as possible.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and leave at room temperature for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Divide the dough, which will be very soft and bubbly, in two equal pieces.  Place each half on a well floured piece of parchment paper, and shape each as a cylinder, keeping the seam side down.  Stretch it gently to give the ciabatta overall shape (a rectangle of 10 x 4 inches), and use the tip of your fingers to make deep dimples all over the dough. Cover with a damp towel and let them rise for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Bake in a pre-heated 425 F oven, spraying the bread with water three times in the first 10 minutes.   Total baking time should be 20 to 25 minutes.   Cool the loaves on a rack, and…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Carol Field advises against kneading this dough by hand, because it is very hard not to add more flour to prevent it from sticking.  However, if you are familiar with the way a high hydration dough behaves,  go ahead and give it a try.  Keep in mind that the less extra flour you add, the better.   She also keeps the seam side up during rising, which forces her to invert the dough on the baking sheet (or stone).  I prefer to shape them seam-side down, then transfer them gently to the oven with the parchment paper still underneath. I think that this method minimizes deflating the dough.

We enjoyed our ciabatta with mozarella and ham for lunch, and at dinner it complemented spaghetti with meatballs that shall be the subject of a post in the very near future (they were AWESOME!)…

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

ONE YEAR AGO: Lamb Stew with Parsnips, Prunes and Chickpeas

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9 thoughts on “CIABATTA, A CLASSIC ITALIAN BREAD

  1. Pingback: L’hebdo du pain // Weekly Bread (n° 12, 15 novembre 2010) – VOTRE PAIN

  2. I can eat it on its own (no butter required). Great stuff to chew on. I had Turkish bread this morning and it looked pretty much like your ciabatta.

  3. I’ve always wanted to try making Ciabatta and I think I will start with your recipe…thanks for sharing…it looks so yummy!

  4. Sally..all your bread recipes sound great!! A friend and I would like to make semolina BBQ buns.. but are not sure how to convert weight into cups. Any suggestions would be appreciated..we are beginning bread bakers. Thanks.. Barb

  5. Saw the link in your current post and came to visit. I tried to make this by hand ONCE after my bread machine died. Never again. I’ll just stick with buying it from the Italian bakery though I have to stay away from their other goodies. :)

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