I took a brief hiatus from bread-making during the latter half of June, which is an incredibly busy month for me at work. To try to get back into the swing of bread-making, I decided to make delicious ciabatta for Bread Week 25.
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I love holey bread, and I know I've made ciabatta before. However, I was surprised that I'd not made Peter Reinhart's ciabatta before, given how much I love The Bread Baker's Apprentice . Making ciabatta takes a time (you start it the night before), and you need patience working with the sticky dough. Believe me when I tell you that it's completely worth it in the end.
I had minor problems with the dough sticking, but the only real issue I had was that I degassed the dough whenever I moved it. You don't get pretty pictures of holey bread right now because my bread didn't have as open a crumb as it should have. Overall, the bread was amazing. It was moist and chewy. It was soft with a nice crust. It was perfect to dip into olive oil. I would definitely make this bread again, although I would make adjustments to shaping so I wouldn't degas the dough again.
- 11.25 ounces flour (should be bread flour; I used all-purpose)
- 12 ounces water
- ¼ teaspoons yeast
- 13.5 ounces flour
- 1 ¾ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons yeast
- 3-6 ounces water
Combine ingredients for poolish. Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment at room temperature for 3-4 hours, until bubbly. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove poolish from fridge 1 hour before using, to take off the chill.
Combine poolish, flour, salt, yeast, and lesser amount of water in the stand mixer. Mix with paddle attachment on low until dough comes together, then beat for 5 minutes on medium speed. Switch to dough hook, then beat for another 2 minutes. Dough should be smooth and sticky. It should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom; add water at low speed until the dough sticks to the bottom if it doesn't already. I used the full amount of water called for.
Scrape the dough onto a very well-floured surface, about 8 inches in diameter. Transfer dough to surface. Stretch the dough until it's twice the original length, then fold upon itself. Repeat in the opposite direction. Wet or flour your hands as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to you. Spray dough with oil, then cover with plastic wrap.
Let dough rest for 30 minutes, then repeat. Let dough rest on counter for 1 ½ - 2 hours. Dough will nearly double in size, so be sure you have lots of flour surrounding the dough.
Divide dough into 2 or 3 rectangles. Don't degas the dough, although I ended up doing so. Sprinkle dough with flour, lift each piece with help of a dough scraper, and gently roll each piece of dough in flour. The recipe recommends placing the dough on a couche (flour-lined cloth, with ridges between each loaf to keep the dough from spreading as it rises). I wouldn't do this again because I degassed my dough big time as I transferred it to the baking sheet. I would lay each loaf directly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and shape it into a 6-inch loaf. I might put flour-lined cloths or parchment between the loaves so that they didn't grow into each other.
Cover and proof for 45-60 minutes.
Place an empty metal pan on the lowest rack of your oven, then preheat the oven to 500F. Remove cloth and paper from around the dough. Tug each piece of dough out to a length of 9-12 inches. Place pan of dough on the center rack of the oven, then pour 1 cup hot water into the heated metal pan to create steam in the oven. Shut the door, wait 30 seconds, then mist water into the oven. Repeat 2 more times, then reduce oven temperature to 450F. Bake bread for 15-20 minutes total, rotating bread halfway through baking time if necessary.
Cool bread for at least 45 minutes before cutting and serving.