A recipe from Shipton Mill's "Discover Italian Baking" Day.
Ciabatta means "slipper" in Italian; one glance at the short stubby bread will make it clear how it was named. Ciabatta is a remarkable combination of rustic country texture and elegant and tantalising taste. It is much lighter than its homely shape would indicate, and the porous, chewy interior is enclosed in a slightly crunchy crust that is veiled with flour. Eat it for breakfast; slice it horizontally and stuff it with salami and cheese; slice it on the diagonal, toast on a griddle, rub with the cut side of half a clove of garlic and drizzle with olive oil; or use for bruschetta with a topping of your choice.
This recipe is from Shipton Mill's "Discover Italian Baking" Day.
Note: The method used in the class uses added yeast to speed the fermentation process for the purposes of teaching. A traditional Ciabatta recipe uses only biga for fermentation which gives a better flavour to the bread, hence the fermentation process will be slower when you do the recipe at home unless you choose to add yeast. The timings given in the recipe below are for a traditional, biga-only recipe. If you choose to add yeast at home, reduce the proving times to the timings shown in brackets.
This recipe uses the same dough recipe as for the Focaccia Bread but has three rises as opposed to two for the Focaccia.
1510g Ciabatta Flour
50g Olive oil
15g yeast (optional)
1. Heat your oven to 250ºC.
2. Weigh your water into a mixing bowl.
3. Add the biga and mix until smooth.
4. Add the flour and olive oil and mix in the bowl with a dough scraper or wooden spoon. The dough will be very wet and sticky.
5. Once all the ingredients are combined, add the salt.
6. Leave to rest for about an hour at ambient room temperature until doubled in size (45min if using yeast).
7. Fold the dough to knock it back.
8. Leave to rest for another hour (40min if using yeast).
9. Repeat the knocking back process.
10. Rest for another hour (40min if using yeast).
11. Flour the bench liberally with flour.
12. Gently pour your dough from the bowl onto the bench out on onto the bench. At this point you need to be very soft and gentle with the dough to avoid knocking all the air out of it and undoing all your proving.
13. This dough is very sticky and will glue itself to any unfloured surface! Dust the surface of your dough liberally with flour. Before you start to cut make sure you also have liberal amounts of flour around the edge of the dough to move the cut piece into, then re-flour the bench from underneath where you remove each cut piece before you make the next cut.
14. Working from the edge nearest to you, use a dough cutter to gently cut the dough into the traditional ciabatta shape. (If you prefer you can cut them into smaller roll-size shapes which are great for packed lunches)
15. Gently lift your loaves onto a baking tray and flour the tops. Prove for 10-15min. (If instead you are using a peel to load them into the oven, dust your peel with semolina and prove the loaves on the peel).
16. Work quickly using a water spray to create a steam in the oven and then quickly load your ciabatta into the oven and shut the door.
17. Load your loaves into the oven for about 20-25min.
18. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Resting times for all recipes are a guide. Proving time will always be affected by ambient room temperatures so use your judgement and increase or decrease the time depending on the conditions on the day you bake.
Baking times for all recipes are a guide. Oven temperatures will vary and not all oven thermostats are reliable. Check on your loaves towards the end of baking to ensure they are not becoming over-baked.
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