Cook.Bake.Eat.Write.

Ciabatta

Posted on: May 31, 2009

My quest towards becoming a bread baking wonder continues with this ciabatta bread. I found the recipe on a fave Swiss blog of mine called Rosa’s Yum Yums. I’ll admit to having been a little scared to start at first–the idea of preparing a sponge the night before being a completely new experience for me. At the end of the day though, the results make it all worth it. 

The dough is a finicky one, but once you’ve got the technique down, all will be swell! As doughs go, it’s a very wet one. Just be patient with it and don’t expect anything near “smooth and elastic” from this dough. It’s sticky and will cling to everything–so flour generously (don’t go too crazy though) and don’t mess with it all too much. Also key here is proof time. You will need the full amount–the longer you wait, the lighter the bread.

As for the end result, this bread is absolutely lovely. It’s light, has those beautiful air bubbles and is so crispy–it makes me think of being back in Italy! I’ve made it on several occasions, including for a few dinner parties. I always bake it right before guests start arriving, so that it’ll be warm for and ready for munching during cocktails and appetizers.

Ciabatta

Makes 2 loaves.

Ingredients

Sponge

1/8 tsp dry yeast

2 tbsp warm water (110-115F)

1/3 cup water at room-temperature

1 cup bread flour

Bread Mix

1/2 tsp dry yeast

2 tbsp warm milk (110-115F)

2 cups bread flour

2/3 cup water at room-temperature

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp table salt

Directions

1. The night before, begin your sponge. First, mix together yeast and warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine bread flour yeast-water mixture and room-temperature water. Stir well for 4 minutes.

3. Cover sponge with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for at least 12 hours.

4. For the Bread: Combine the yeast and warm milk, stirring well. Let stand for 5 minutes or until creamy.

5. In a stand mixer (using dough hook), combine bread flour, sponge, room-temperature water and olive oil. Mix on medium-speed for 4 minutes.

6. Add salt and continue mixing for another 4 minutes.

7. With a spatula, spoon dough into a large well-greased glass bowl. (It will be quite wet). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to double in size (1-1 1/2 hours) at room temp.

8. Prepare your baking tray: Line the tray with parchment paper, dusting generously with flour.

9. With a spatula, spoon dough onto parchment and divide into half. Form into two oval shapes. Dust again generously with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double at room temp. (1-1 1/2 hours).

10. 45 minutes before baking, preheat your oven and oven tray to 250 C.

11. Remove plastic wrap from dough. (It will stick a bit, despite flour dusting; just remove it slowly and gently.) Place tray into preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, first on the bottom half and with bottom heat, for 10-15 minutes. A good indication that it is ready to be moved is if the bottom is golden and crisp when tapped with a knife.

12. During the last 5-10 minutes of baking, switch heat to the top. Allow loaf to turn a nice golden color. 

13. Remove bread from oven and place on a rack and allow to cool a bit before serving.

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