Okay, I know it looks like all I do is kayak, but that’s not totally true. I bake, too! Seriously, though, no whitewater rivers run through Boston so I might as well pass the evenings away somehow. The last two evenings have been devoted to learning how to make ciabatta bread, which is surprisingly easy! In fact, I discovered that my oven doesn’t even work anymore (won’t go higher than 375 degrees), and the bread still came out tasty! So, here’s the post to how to make ciabatta bread, adapted from an All Recipes recipe. Enjoy!
- 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- Pinch (like, 5-year-old finger size pinch) sugar
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 cup white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon oil (olive’s best, but canola works fine)
- 2 cups white flour
- 1 teaspoons salt
- Stir in the 1/4 tsp yeast, sugar, and warm water together and let stand 5 minutes or
until creamy. The sugar’s not necessarily needed, but I find the yeast works better with a little bit. Honestly, who doesn’t perform better with sugar in your system?
- Stir in a bowl the yeast, 1/3 cup water, and 1 cup of the white flour for about 4 minutes. Then cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in aside for 12 hours to a full day. I did this in the evening and then got started with the rest of the recipe the next day.
- NEXT DAY: Mix the 1/2 tsp yeast with 2 Tbs warm milk. You know the drill, let stand for 5 minutes or until a creamy. Now, mix that with the sponge, water, oil, and rest of the flour and mix for about minutes. You can use an electric mixer, but if you’re broke, hand crankin’ it works. It’ll be moist when you’re done. Scrape mixture into another oiled bowl and let rise to double size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Turn dough onto well-floured surface and cut into two loaves. OR! Like me, you can make rolls, which is just taking small chunks out of the mass on the counter and rolling them into balls with WELL-FLOURED hands. Place the two loaves/9 or so rolls onto a greased cookie sheet and cover with a towel to double in size again, about 1 1/2 hours.
- At 45 minutes, turn the oven on to 425 F and put either a baking stone inside or a baking dish filled with water. The reason for this is to let steam rise, which will give the ciabatta that nice, hard, tasty crust we all love. Wait the remaining 45 minutes and then pop into the oven for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool on a rack as long as you can stand it before digging in!
I have to say, I was really impressed with how easy and tasty these rolls came out. All it took was a 7-minute sponge preparation the previous night and a little bit of patience the day of baking (as most bread recipes tend to require). I cooked dinner, did yoga, and read some of 1984 during that time, though, so it’s not like you’re stuck in the kitchen the whole time. PLUS, baking bread offers that satisfaction of being just a little more independent from the grocery store and being able to make something people will love! Enjoy!