Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ciabatta from Martha Stewart Living, Jan 2008

The January 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living has a series of photographs and recipes for artisan breads. I made the multigrain boule and was dissapointed with it. This ciabatta, on the other hand was just right. The recipe makes 2 small loaves, just right for Mrs. A and me. The instructions in the magazine are detailed on how to make the dough and knead it properly. I tried to follow them as much as I could. The results were tasty. I liked it very much.

Ciabatta is a very wet dough and difficult to handle. I did the kneading directly on the stone counter, not on my bread board. As a result, I had no trouble with the dough sticking or needing to add additional flour.

The recipe uses a preferment so I started that the night before. It was ready the next morning. Here is the recipe as I made it:
6 ounces bread flour
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
4 ounces cool water

8 ounces bread flour
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
6 ounces cool water
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Cooking spray

Make the preferment mixing with your hands, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight.

Make the dough by adding the preferment and the other ingredients EXCEPT THE SALT and OIL, mixing to just combine, then let stand for 20 minutes. Turn out the dough onto an unfloured surface and add the salt and drizzle with the oil. Knead the salt and oil into the dough stretching and folding according to the detailed magazine instructions. It even had nice pictures of the sticky dough. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 45 minutes. Stretch and fold. Return to the bowl until doubled, about 75 minutes.

Turn out the dough, divide into half, cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Shape into two loaves by carefully stretching in to a rectangle and folding into thirds. Don't deflate the dough. Place the dough loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I didn't use my stone or peel. Cover and let rise again for 40 to 50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 deg F. Prepare the cast iron frying pan on the bottom of the oven for steam. (1/2 cup of water ready to go.)

Before baking stretch each loaf into a 10 x 4 inch rectangle. Dimple the surface with your fingers. Slide the bread into the oven. I baked directly on the baking sheet. Add the 1/2 cup water to the pan (careful) and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 450 deg F.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Cool before eating it all.

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