Considering tomorrow that I will have ample time to bake, I decided I will make ciabatta bread. Ciabatta was the first serious bread I made. By serious, I mean technically difficult and requiring more effort than combine, knead, proof, bake. It’s a very wet dough and produces bread that is delicious, chewy and full of holes. Fantastic for sandwiches or dipping in olive oil or eating directly out of the oven with a guilty look on your face.
I first made it in my tiny apartment kitchen and I believe the whole process took (aside from the poolish) 4 or 5 hours. It was insane and delightful. I struggled to get it right and in the end, although the bread was absolutely wonderful, I felt it wasn’t quite there. I went back to my sandwich breads and tried other recipes.
I have been hesitant to try it again, remembering the way I had to mother hen the dough. It’s sticky, it’s wet, it’s hard to handle. Also, I have made other breads that are easier and produce just as tasty results. But, I’ve got a window of free time tomorrow and I have loads more experience. I will not post the recipe, as it is not mine and it would not be very becoming of me. So you’ll have to be satisfied with pictures.
It has to ferment for about 4 or five hours at room temperature and then it goes into the refrigerator. A poolish is a pre-ferment to get more flavor and texture from the final product. It gives the recipe a kick in the pants before it’s even made. As they usually take about 5 to 10 minutes to put together and then live in the fridge, I would never dream of skipping them. It’s all about planning ahead.
And while we wait, some important bread baking tips:
- Always make one ugly loaf that you have to eat immediately so no one can see it.
- I won’t judge you if you eat the bread before it’s cooled sufficiently
- If no one sees you eat an entire baguette, it doesn’t count. Besides, to the victor the spoils?
- If you’re gluten free, I am really, really sorry.
Anyway, here’s where we are at after four hours.
It smells yeasty and wonderful! Can’t wait to bake it up tomorrow!