I have always kind of shied away from making bread. I don’t really have any counter space to roll and knead dough out properly. Our kitchen is about the size of a closet with one small counter to do work on, so I have always been limited in what I can do. That being said, I have tried to get a little more adventurous and try some dough that can be done in the food processor or in a stand mixer. I love ciabatta bread, so that was immediately one of the first that I tracked down a recipe for. After finding a good one, I set about making it. You need to know you are doing this one a day in advance, so make sure you give yourself time to do it. It takes a lot of waiting but it’s worth it.
Homemade Ciabatta Bread
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup bread flour
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
To make the sponge: In a small bowl, stir together the 1/8 teaspoon of yeast and the 2 tablespoons of warm water and allow it to stand for 5 minutes, or until creamy. In a medium bowl, stir together the yeast mixture, the 1/3 cup of warm water and 1 cup of bread flour. Stir together for 4 minutes, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the sponge to stand at a cool room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 full day.
To make the bread: In a small bowl, stir together the 1/2 teaspoon of the dry yeast and the milk and allow it to stand for 5 minutes, or until it is creamy. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, blend together the milk mixture, the sponge, water, olive oil and flour at low-speed until the flour is just moistened; add the salt and mix the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rise at room temperature until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. The dough will be sticky and full of air bubbles. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and cut it in half. Transfer each half to a parchment sheet and form it into an irregular oval about 9 inches long. Dimple the loaves with floured fingers and dust the tops of the loaves with flour. Cover the loaves with a dampened kitchen towel. Let the loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
At least 45 minutes before baking the ciabatta, place a baking stone on the oven rack with the lowest position in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Transfer 1 loaf on its parchment paper to a rimless baking sheet with a long side of the loaf parallel to the far edge of the baking sheet. Line up the far edge of the baking sheet with the far edge of the baking stone in the oven and tilt the baking sheet to slide the loaf with the parchment onto the back half of the baking stone. Transfer the remaining loaf to the front half of the stone in a similar manner. Bake the ciabatta loaves for 20 minutes, or until a pale golden brown. Cool the loaves on a wire rack.
I was a little skeptical before I even tried the recipe how this would come out, but it was really good. The crust is perfectly crunchy with a great texture to the bread itself. Sean and I each had a slice while it was still warm and it was awesome. I then made a sandwich with the bread later on for dinner and it was fantastic. Michelle took a sandwich for lunch herself today. The only thing I might change is the shaping of the loaves. I did not shape them in the oval as recommended and went for a little bit of a longer loaf. I think the oval would work out much better and give you larger slices to work with. I will definitely be making this again. I know around here they get about $4.00 a loaf for ciabatta and I figure the cost of making two loaves at home is about a dollar, so it is certainly worth the time you put in. Most of the time is actually waiting for the dough to rise, so you don’t have a lot of effort to put in for great results and savings.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another new recipe that I have tried this week. We have tried several already, so I have a bunch of new ones to choose from. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!