Wednesday, April 11, 2012

ciabatta bread revisited

It dawned on the me the other day that it had been while since I posted the recipe for one of my favorite breads.  So at the risk of redundancy:  here is the recipe for the ciabatta bread we make in the program and at my home.  It is based on the recipe by Daniel Leader.  All I have done is increase the flour by 2 ounces.

Yield: 2 (19.6 oz) loaves

2.3 oz              Water, room temp
0.1 oz              Instant yeast
3.5 oz              Bread flour

5.9 oz              Biga
15 oz               water, room temperature
0.4 oz              instant yeast
17.6 oz                        bread flour
0.4 oz              kosher salt

For the Biga:

9 – 17 hours before you want to bake, prepare the biga.
Add the dry ingredients to the water in a small bowl and stir to combine into a rough dough.
Scrape out the dough and knead on a lightly dusted surface for 1 – 2 minutes to get it somewhat smooth.
Oil mixing bowl lightly and put dough back in, turning to coat.
Cover with plastic wrap and set at room temp for 1 hour.
Refrigerate until ready to make dough.

For the dough:
Use an electric mixer with paddle or hook.
Take the biga and mix with water to soften and break into clumps.
Add the yeast, and salt.
Mix to dissolve.
Change to dough hook.
Add the bread flour and mix on medium speed for 13 – 15 minutes.  (Medium high with a kitchen aid, speed# 8, do not let it walk off the counter)
Dough will climb up hook and not clear sides.  Periodically stop the machine and scrape the dough down.
Turn machine to high (kitchen aid to 10) and knead until the dough starts to clean the side of the bowl and collect around the hook.  It will be glistening, creamy and extremely elastic.

Ferment in oiled container for 3 – 4 hours until triple in size.
Prepare ½  sheet pans by covering with parchment and making a pleat down the middle of the paper.  Dust the paper well with flour.
Turn out dough and divide in to two equal pieces.
Pick up one piece of dough holding one end in each hand and in one fluid motion transfer to the parchment lined pan.
Repeat with the second piece with the pleat dividing the two loaves.
Dimple the tops of the loaves with your fingers.
Dust with flour and cover with plastic wrap.
Proof for 30 – 40 minutes until you see bubbles under the surface of the bread.

Preheat oven to 475° one hour before baking, placing a pan for ice on the bottom of the oven.
When ready to bake, pull parchment so it lays flat.
Bake bread on the middle rack.
Add ½ cup – 1 cup of ice cubes to the hot pan on the bottom of the oven.
Bake 25 – 35 minutes.

You can make this without a mixer but it is really hard to work the dough enough.
You can make the biga in the morning and the bread in the evening.  The flavor is not quite as nice but it does work.
This bread freezes real well.  Reheat for five minutes in a 400 degree oven.
I hope you enjoy.

Until next time
Happy Cooking and Eating
Chef Leslie Bartosh

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