Thursday, June 18, 2015


While I usually crank out a couple loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread every other week, I was in the mood to do something different. Enter ciabatta.

This bread takes some time to make, but the effort is totally worth it. The night before making the dough, I got the biga, or starter, going.

I combined 1 cup of flour, 1/8 teaspoon of instant yeast, and 1/2 cup of room temperature water. All that got stirred around, then the bowl was covered with cling wrap and left to stand overnight.

The next morning, I put the biga into the bowl of my stand mixer, then added 2 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 3/4 cups of water, and 1/4 cup of milk. The water and milk were at room temperature.

Starting with the paddle attachment, the dough mixed at low speed until it was roughly combined and shaggy looking. It was unbelievably humid the day I made the dough, so I found that a bit more flour was needed to get the mixture to the right consistency. I scraped down the sides of the bowl, then continued mixing on medium-low speed until the dough started to collect on the paddle. I changed over to the dough hook and and kneaded the dough for about 10 more minutes.

Now came the fun part -- transferring the dough to a bowl. This dough is extremely sticky. I did find that spraying the pastry scraper with some cooking spray helped.

The bowl was covered with cling wrap and the dough was left to rise for about an hour.

When it had doubled in volume, I sprayed the scraper again, and folded the dough over itself. After turning the bowl 90 degrees, it got folded again. I kept turning the bowl and folding until eight turns were completed.

The cling wrap was put back on the bowl and the dough rested for another 30 minutes. Then the whole turn the bowl, fold the dough was done again, and another 30 minute resting.

This is what the dough looked like at this point in the process. It's a bit difficult to see, but if you look close you can see that bubbles have formed, which is a good thing.

I cut two pieces of parchment paper and put lots of flour on them, as well as liberally dusting the counter. 

After turning the dough out on the counter, I cut it in half, formed my loaves, and placed them on the parchment paper.

Before popping the dough into a pre-heated 450 degree oven, I spritzed the top of the loaf with water. Once the loaf was in the oven, it got spritzed again.

After baking for about 24 minutes, the bread was ready to come out of the oven.

I love the crispiness of the crust and chewiness inside. This isn't the type of bread recipe I plan to make all the time, but it certainly is a tasty change of pace.

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