I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ciabatta Bread

In search of a good bread to make Cuban Sandwiches? I like Ciabatta bread. The only problem is unless you live in a major city it will be difficult to get. I love making bread. Its really easy once you get the hang of it. I got this recipe from the ultimate bread book - The Bread Baker's Apprentice.


Making the Poolish:

Combine 2 1/2 cups bread flour (11.25 ounces) with 1 1/2 cups water (12 ounces) and 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast. It should be about as thick as pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise on the counter for 3 to 4 hours. Refrigerate overnight.

Making the dough:

Remove the poolish from the fridge 1 hour before you want to use it. Combine 3 cups (13.5 ounces) bread flour with 1 3/4 t salt and 1 1/2 t instant yeast. Add in the poolish and 6 T water. Mix on medium speed for about 9 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom. You may need to add a little more flour or water, depending. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, stretch the dough out into a rectangle and fold it up like a letter. Put it back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to ferment for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Shaping into loaves:

This is where it gets a little more complicated. If you can get a couche, you probably should. You can get one by clicking this link. If you can't get one, improvise.

Dust top of the dough with flour and pat into a rectangle. Wait 2 minutes.

Stretch the dough to twice its length and fold the dough over on itself like a letter.

Devide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces being careful not to squeeze the bubbles out of the dough. Form each piece into a rectangle and bunch the cloth up between the pieces to provide a wall.

Spray the top of the dough with spray oil, cover with a cloth and let rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preparing the oven:

Preheat the oven to 500 with a baking stone on the middle rack. On a rack below the baking stone put a big cast iron skillet.

Baking the bread:

Gently transfer the dough to a well floured pizza peel. Place directly on the baking stone and dump 1 cup ice into the cast iron skillet on the lower rack. Mist the sides of the oven with water every 30 seconds for three mistings. Lower the oven temperature to 450 and bake 10 minutes. Rotate the loves 180 degrees and bake for 5 to 10 more minutes until they are done.

To make sure that the ends are nice and square like the photo above, just before placing in the oven slice the ends off. You can use the ends to make naughty little breadlet sticks like these: