Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ciabatta

I have been making all of the bread for us to eat rather than buying it. Bread for lunch sandwiches, hamburger buns, dinner rolls, bagels. It has all been delicious, but I am ready to take it to the next level; Artisan Bread. Artisan bread is crafted. It is more time intensive to make, and also more complex and flavorful.

Artisan bread begins with a starter or sponge. You make the sponge ahead of time and let it develop to give it that sourdough, yeasty type flavor. You can have a large sponge created and keep it going, using portions of it and feeding it so that you will always have sponge ready to make bread.

Yesterday began with mixing up the ingredients to make a sponge for homemade ciabatta bread. When I peeked in on my sponge this morning it had filled the entire bowl and was bubbled. It smelled very yeasty, almost like beer.

The next step is to mix together all of the ingredients, including the sponge, to form your bread dough. After the ingredients are mixed together the dough ball is left to rise for a couple hours. Here is a picture of my dough,on the left is before its first rise, and on the right is after its first rise.

After it rises for about an hour and a half and is doubled in size, I will divide it into two pieces and form those into loaves. I put them on wax paper on a pan and covered them with a wet towel.

After two hours of rising and twenty minutes in the oven, finally, homemade Ciabatta Bread! Delicious!

Ciabatta Bread

Ingredients

Sponge:

  • 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 cup bread flour
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  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm milk
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Directions

  1. To Make Sponge: In a small bowl stir together 1/8 teaspoon of the yeast and the warm water and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In a bowl stir together yeast mixture, 1/3 cup of the water, and 1 cup of the bread flour. Stir 4 minutes, then over bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand at cool room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. To Make Bread: In a small bowl stir together yeast and milk and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil, and flour at low speed until flour is just moistened; add salt and mix until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough will be sticky and full of air bubbles.) Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to a parchment sheet and form into an irregular oval about 9 inches long. Dimple loaves with floured fingers and dust tops with flour. Cover loaves with a dampened kitchen towel. Let loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. At least 45 minutes before baking ciabatta, put a baking stone on oven rack in lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 425 F (220 degrees C).
  5. Transfer 1 loaf on its parchment to a rimless baking sheet with a long side of loaf parallel to far edge of baking sheet. Line up far edge of baking sheet with far edge of stone or tiles, and tilt baking sheet to slide loaf with parchment onto back half of stone or tiles. Transfer remaining loaf to front half of stone in a similar manner. Bake ciabatta loaves 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Cool loaves on a wire rack.

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