Ciabatta Bread

I have to admit, I am proud of my results in making this bread.  I have mentioned before my lack of confidence in breadmaking.  Nothing is better on a cold day than a bowl of homemade soup and freshly baked bread.  That is why I am going to try to make much more of it this winter.   I have always wanted to make ciabatta, but was intimidated.  I figured homemade had to be better than Kroger's version!  I couldn't believe it actually worked, not to mention it was really good.  It does not involve a lot of labor, but does take a lot of time.  If you have a free day you should try it!

Ciabatta Bread:
borrowed from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
click here for printable version

2 1/4 pounds (about 7 cups) flour
3 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons coarse salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or just a bowl if you don't have a Kitchen Aid mixer) mix together flour, water and yeast.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until the  mixture is tripled in size, about 2 hours.
Add the salt.  Attach the bowl to a mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Mix on low speed for 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed.  When the dough begins to climb the sides raise the speed to medium and beat for 15 seconds.  The dough will be very wet, slack and sticky.
Using a bowl scraper, turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface.

The dough will be really hard to handle but resist the urge to flour the top.  Fold the dough in the following manner:  With the bowl scraper, gather and fold the bottom edge of the dough about one-third of the way toward the center.  Pat down lightly to deflate.  Fold the top edge down one-third of the way toward the center; the two folds should overlap slightly.    Repeat with the left and right sides, until all the edges meet and overlap in the center.  Tap off excess flour.  Gently scoop up the dough and flip it over, seam side down in a well-floured bowl, smooth side up.  I found this difficult to do and my dough just ended up in a pile in the bowl, but it didn't seem to hurt anything.  
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Turn out the dough onto a well-floured counter and pat it out into a 16 by 12 inch rectangle.  Divide the dough into two 16 by 6 inch rectangles.  Sprinkle a wooden cutting board with cornmeal.  Transfer the dough to the cutting board.  Lightly dust the tops with flour and drape with plastic wrap.  Let dough rest until slightly puffed, 20-25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Put loaves on a baking sheet and bake until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped, about 40 minutes.   


Thomas said...

I can vouch for this bread recipe - it was incredible! I can't wait to eat some more of it.