Wednesday, February 18, 2009
This was a request by my friend Ana, which unfortunately took me weeks to get around to. I started to make ciabatta a week or two ago but I forgot I had plans that day and had to leave the dough to rise an extra several hours, which turned into very flat, ugly, but tasty bread. This time it worked, because I followed the directions, and it was well worth trying again.
You can form the dough into small loaves for making sandwiches out of, or make one big loaf and enjoy it by the slice. Either way, this is a flavorful bread that won't disappoint.
Be warned! You have to start the dough a full day in advance, and of course it has to rise for a few hours before you bake it, so start this bread about 28-29 hours before you want to actually eat it. For example, if you want to serve it with dinner, make the starter the minute you get home from work and it should be ready when you're done cooking dinner the next day.
It's heavenly fresh out of the oven dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with just a pinch of salt and black pepper, but I've got half a loaf in a baggie in my purse I've been snacking on all day. Bread is so good.
Makes 4 small loaves
1/8 tsp yeast
2 tbsp warm water
1/3 cup room temperature water
1 cup all purpose or bread flour
Combine the yeast and warm water in a medium bowl and let stand til foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and flour, mix well with a pastry cutter for 4 minutes or so. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand a full 24 hours before proceeding.
1/2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp warm whole milk
2/3 cup room temperature water
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
Stir yeast into the warm milk and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. (Sound familiar?) In a large bowl, mix the starter, warm milk mixture, and remaining ingredients with a pastry cutter until a dough forms, then knead for at least 5 minutes. Lightly oil the inside of your big bowl and place the dough back in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit two cookie sheets. Divide and shape the dough into four rectangles about 8" long, two per cookie sheet. Lay them on the parchment paper and add a dusting of flour to the tops. Poke dimples in it with your fingers to give it that nice texture we love so much. Cover with a damp towel and let rise another hour.
15 minutes into the rising, start preheating the oven to 425º.
Bake the loaves one pan at a time in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.
This bread, like any, will go stale quickly if not stored in plastic bags.