I longed for the luxurious fragrance of freshly baked bread emanating from my kitchen. It had been so long (a couple weeks) since my fingers worked with bread dough and they were aching to knead something other than Mr. Incredible's back. I decided on Ciabatta bread because it would be perfect for sandwiches I planned on making for lunch. Sliced, still warm from the oven, smeared with glistening butter melting and saturating every crevice of this honey combed textured bread sounded like a delectable treat. (I'm trying to use more adjectives in this post. How am I doing?)
Mini lesson...ready? Ciabatta, pronounced /cha-bah-tah/, is an Italian white bread that is elongated, broad and flat. It's name, meaning "slipper" in Italian, is a reference to its shape which kind of resembles a slipper. When made well, ciabatta bread has a moist, holey crumb and a crackly, crisp crust.
Many of ciabatta recipes begin with a poolish (pronounced pool-eesh, accent on the second syllable). A poolish is a pre-mixed “starter” of flour, water and a touch of yeast. It is mixed a few hours before the remainder of the ingredients. It's said to give the bread a better texture and flavor.
The recipe I'll be sharing today does not use a poolish. This means I'll have ciabatta in my belly in less than 3 hours rather than 2-3 days.
Mini lesson over. Let's bake some bread!
Ciabatta Bread (adapted from this recipe)
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 1/4 cups bread flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
Mix water, sugar and yeast in a bowl. Let sit until creamy. Mix flour and salt together. Add yeast mixture and oil to the flour. Using a mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix/knead for 5 minutes.
Dough will be extremely wet. Refrain from adding more flour. Refrain yourself! Scrape dough into a well greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise until doubled in size (1.5-2 hours). Because the dough is extremely sticky, you'll want to flour your work surface generously.
Scrape dough onto the work surface and cut in half. Be gentle with the dough at this point. You don't want to push out all the air. Tear off 2 pieces of parchment paper.
Gently transfer the dough onto one of the papers and stretch out into a rectangle. Using your fingertips, create dimples all over the surface of the dough (I was so busy loving on my dough that I forgot to do this part! It's supposed to help create all those large holes throughout the bread). Repeat with other half of dough. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place bread and parchment paper (either on a baking sheet or pizza stone) in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until bread is golden.
Let cool before slicing and using for sandwiches.
There's a little surprise in this sandwich.
A fried egg! Yum yum.
A fried egg! Yum yum.