Ciabatta

A thin-crusted and light-textured bread perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

If I would have to choose a food I couldn’t live without, it would have to be bread. A popular dish around the world, it has many forms, but a good ciabatta is definitely a staple in the western world. I always thought that making your own bread was a daunting task, and not something that is easily achieved. That is until a few months ago, when I tried my cousin’s fresh ciabatta. On few months ago while visiting Matyi in Macclesfield, we woke up to the smell of freshly baked bread in the oven. Let’s just say the bread wasn’t around for long.

After this encounter, I set out to make my own bread. I’m not going to life, the first few attempts were not very successful. I thought I was doing everything right by adding boiling hot water to yeast. After a long conversation with my mom, I realized this was a big no-no, and tepid water is the way to go (tepid water is two parts cold water and one part boiling water). Once I corrected this mistake, there was no looking back. What’s also great is that once you master the basic ciabatta, you can add unique ingredients to spice it up. Green olives. Black olives. Onion slices. Sundried tomatoes.

The best part is that these ciabatta loaves are great to give as a gift to any friends who prefer savouries over sweets.

CIABATTA INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups of strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 packet of instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 and ¾ cup tepid water
  • Choice of herbs (oregano, basil, thyme)
  • Choice of special ingredients (chopped olives, onion slices, sundried tomatoes)

CIABATTA INSTRUCTION

  1. Lightly oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container. (It’s important to use a square tub as it helps shape the dough).
  2. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Add the olive oil and three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water. Then mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is smooth and stretchy.
  3. Tip the dough into the prepared tub, cover with a tea towel and leave until at least doubled, even trebled in size – 1-2 hours or longer.
  4. Heat your oven to 220°C / 420°F and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment or silicone paper.
  5. Dust your work surface heavily with flour – add some semolina too, if you have some. Carefully tip out the dough (it will be very wet) onto the work surface, trying to retain a rough square shape. Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. Coat the top of the dough with more flour and/or semolina. Cut the dough in half length ways and divide each half length ways into 2 strips. You should now have 4 pieces of dough. Stretch each piece of dough length ways a little and place on prepared baking trays.
  6. Leave the ciabatta dough to rest for a further 10 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

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