Monday, March 16, 2009

Ciabatta Bread

This weekend Dylan and I baked a lot. We made sourdough French bread, but I'm not thrilled with it and will wait to post about French bread. We baked a sweet orange flavored focaccia. And we baked chocolate chip cookies.

We baked the rustic Ciabatta bread in the March/April 09 issue of Cooks Illustrated. It's pictured above. I'm posting a link but unless you subscribe to Cooks Illustrated online, you'll not be able to access this recipe (and their video) after April.

It turned out great and both loaves were eaten in two days!

Instead of the Biga (1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/8 tsp of instant yeast, and 1/2 cup water at room temperature, I used 1 cup of my sourdough starter mixed with 1/8 tsp of yeast.)

The dough:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp table salt
3/4 cup water at room temperature
1/4 cup milk at room temperature.

Place the Biga and dough ingredients in the mixing bowl. Use the paddle attachment to mix on low until a shaggy dough forms at about one minute of mixing. Then mix on medium-low until the dough becomes a uniform mass on the paddle - about 4 - 6 minutes. Change to dough hook and knead on medium about 10 minutes.

Put dough in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise about an hour, until doubled.

When dough has doubled, spray cooking spray on a bowl scraper and fold the dough over itself, turning the bowl 90 degrees each time for 8 folding operations. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 more minutes. Repeat the folding and turning, replace the wrap and let rise yet another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450, preferably with a baking stone in it.

Cut two 12 X 6 inch pieces of parchment paper and flour them well. Flour counter well and turn dough out onto it. Cut dough into two parts with a bench knife. Flour hands well and press dough into 12 X 6 inch shape. Fold the shorter sides of the dough toward center, overlapping them like a letter to form a 7X4 inch loaf. Repeat with other half of the dough.

Transfer each loaf seam down to parchment sheets, dust with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Slide parchment with loaves onto wooden pizza peel. Using floured fingers, poke surface of each loaf to form 10X6 rectangle. Spray the loaves with water.

Slide loaves with parchment onto baking stone and bake spraying loaves with water twice more during the first 5 minutes of baking time.

Transfer to a wire rack, discard parchment, and cool loaves to room temperature.

I liked this recipe but remember an even better ciabatta from Nancy Silverton's La Brea Bakery cookbook. I'm going to try it the next time I'm in the ciabatta mood.

Delicious! Dylan ate his for the rest of the afternoon. In the picture below he kept a piece going while he played trains.

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