Ciabatta bread10:57 AM
Ciabatta is a bread that has the tang of a sourdough bread and the thick moist inside of a yeast bread. A perfect bread to have a side with your meal or for a sandwich.
A true ciabatta takes time to make, and the more time you can give to you starter and then your dough to prove, the better the bread will be.
Making a starter is an absolute must for this bread, you won't get its distinctive sour tang without it. The longer you let your starter develop, the more distinctive the taste in the final product will be. For a ciabatta, your starter should be left to ferment between 12 to 24 hours. You will therefore need to plan things in advance
For the starter
1/4 tsp of dry yeast
1 cup of white flour
1/3 cup water
In a glass, dilute the yeast in about 1-2 table spoon of lukewarm water and let it rest for 5 minutes for the yeast to start doing its yeasty thing (looking creamy and starting to bubble)
In a mixing bowl, put one cup of flour, the yeast mix and the water and mix. You should get something that looks like the picture above : a very sticky dough. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature.
By the time you are going to make your bread dough, the starter should look like this :
The best is to make the starter in the late afternoon the day before if you plan to bake your bread the next morning.
Once your starter is ready, you can make your bread dough. Remember the longer your starter was left alone the stronger the flavour it will give to your bread.
For the dough
2 1/2 cup white flour
2tbsp olive oil, plus extra for coating
1 tsp dry yeast
2tbsp lukewarm milk
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Water as needed
First, dilute the yeast in the warm milk and let it do its yeasty magic (5 minutes). While your yeast gets all yeasty pour your flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Add the yeast, oil and the whole starter to the mix and stir with a spoon at first. Then or use the dough hook on your mixer or your hand to combine while adding water. You are looking at achieving a dough that will be elastic but slightly sticky. Once you have that consistency make a ball and coat it in a little olive oil and place it in the bowl.
It should look like this :
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rest until it nearly doubled in size, that should take you about an hour and a half. Less if you live in a hot climate.
Once your dough has risen, it will still look sticky. Knock the dough back, this means punch it to get the air out, and transfer to a clean flat surface dusted with enough flour. The dough will be sticky, i can't stress that enough. Roll your dough in the flour and cut your ball in half.
Shape each halves into an oblong loaf and transfer to a backing sheet covered with baking parchment.
Then, dip your fingers in more flour and start poking your loaves a little, they should be a bit flattened on top. Dust with some more flour and cover the baking sheet with the kitchen towel.
Let the loaves rest for at least 30 minutes, one hour being better. This phase is called proving, the yeast will continue working its magic during that time.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, and I mean PREHEAT it, it has to be hot. I do mine for 20 minutes, but if you have a larger oven, feel free to let it preheat longer, you want the inside to be uniformly hot.
Shove you loaves in once it is hot and back for 20-25 minutes. The top should be light brown.
Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy as warm as you wish (cold works too, but nothing beats the taste of still warm homemade bread).
In mumbai's humidity, the crunchy crust will not stay crunchy long, so eat it fast. It goes well with soups, as a side to continental dishes or used to make a sandwich...enjoy!