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Ciabatta bread

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Ciabatta means slipper in Italian. As you will see in the shape of the finished loaf. It may be shaped into loaves, or buns. It can be eaten plain, sliced, dipped in olive oil, stuffed, toasted, or as a sandwich. This is a true taste of Italy.

This recipe uses both weights and measurements for the ingredients. You will have greater success by using this the weights.

For this recipe you will need the use of a stand mixer.

You will first have to make bread starter. You will find the recipe HERE.

Makes 4 loaves

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

5 tablespoons warm milk not hot

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons water, at room temperature

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 very full cups (17.5 ounces/500 grams) of bread starter recipe

3 3/4 cups (17.5 ounces/500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon (0.5 ounces/15 grams) salt

Cornmeal

In a stand mixer stir the yeast and milk until fully combined. Let rest until bubbly about 10 minutes.

Weigh the bread starter and add the water, oil. Then add starter mixture to the yeast mixture and mix with a paddle on low speed until blended.

Weighed the flour, add the salt. Add this flour mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes.

Change to the dough hook and knead for 2 minutes at low speed, then 2 minutes at medium speed. The dough will be very sticky and almost runny.

Wet your hands and use them to remove the dough from the bowl onto a very lightly floured surface.

Knead the dough using as little flour as possible. Yes the dough will be very hard to work with because it is very moist. It is important to only use as much flour as you need to. The dough will be still be very wet at this point; almost like a thick batter. Knead the dough for about 2 minute, or until it is beginning to become supple, velvety, springy, and moist.  Dough should still be very very soft.

Place the Ciabatta dough into a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size , about 1 1/4 hours. The dough will be full of air bubbles, very supple, elastic, moist, and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces.

Roll each piece of dough into a rectangle, then pulling with your fingers to get each piece to approximately 10 by 4 inches.

Very heavly flour 4 pieces of parchment paper placed on upside-down baking sheets.

Place each loaf on a piece of parchment. Using your fingertips or knuckles poke the loaves until dimpled allover. The dough should look heavily pockmarked.

Cover the loaves loosely with damp warm towels and let rise until puffy but not doubled. This will take between 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I like to place mine on the top of the stove. The loaves will look flat at this point but they will rise more in the oven.

About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Place 2 baking stones on the center rack to heat. Large cast-iron skillets turned upside down and heated in the oven may be used as well to bake the bread.

Just before baking the ciabatta, sprinkle the preheated stones with cornmeal. Now carefully turn each loaf onto a stone flour side up.

If the dough sticks to the parchment just gently work it free from the paper.

Bake for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water in the first 10 minutes.

Remove the Ciabatta bread from the oven.

  • Transfer to wire racks to cool. 
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