Ciabatta Bread (on a busy day!)

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Yesterday I made ciabatta and I apologize for not posting it. While it was going through it’s stages, I was fiddling with the Athena 2000 and after about 3 hours into fiddling:

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GUYS I MADE A KNOT WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

wpid-20140117_100815.jpg wpid-20140117_094917.jpg wpid-20140117_094801.jpg wpid-20140117_094717.jpgwpid-20140117_094658.jpg “throw your arms in the air like you just wanna drop kick a machine!”

I just couldn’t take it anymore and had to take her into the shop, the closest one being 30 miles away. So I got a bit sidetracked and I will post about that later. Onto the ciabatta!

wpid-20140117_080111.jpgcoffee. step one is always make coffee. all my blogs should start with “today i arose from mine bed and went forth and made coffee” -sayeth brittany

First thing I had to do was pull the poolish I had made the day before which you can read about here out of the refrigerator and let it warm up for an hour.

wpid-20140117_072852.jpgit looks like the moon but it is not made of cheese

Then I assembled together the final ingredients.

wpid-20140117_080518.jpgthe actual step after this was “drink coffee”

Let me assure you, dear friends, this was a heck of a time to mix. I had to add more water than I thought, which I DESPISE doing. I always try to add less flour in the beginning because it is so much easier to add flour than water. I blame it on the fact that we are under an arctic chill here in Illinois and the house makes the desert seem humid. It’s so bad, I have to water some houseplants twice a week.

20140106_145403[1]sure, that seems like a reasonable excuse. clearly, it was ALIENS!

Anyway, I had to fight with that dough to get the right consistency and it was not exactly my favorite thing ever. But eventually, it started to behave.

wpid-20140117_084341.jpgthis is a sticky ball. stop giggling. this is serious.

wpid-20140117_092006.jpgstretching and folding

wpid-20140117_103629.jpg an hour later we’re bursting at the seams. yeast cells are such little piggies

wpid-20140117_103951.jpglook at that bubble. that is a delicious bubble.

wpid-20140117_104046.jpgsetting up a couche, or as i like to call it, a towel that is bunched up so the dough doesn’t stick

Right about

HERE

is when I finally called around about the sewing machine. Being that the place closed early and was forty minutes away, I decided to rush things a wee tiny bit. I originally was going to use my peel, like I’m fancy or something, and bake them two at a time directly on the stone. To save time, I put all four on sheet pans and just rotated them for baking.

wpid-20140117_114321.jpglooking good, kiddies!

wpid-20140117_122421.jpgand….delicious! can you see the hole? that was where the thermometer went.

The bread turned out very tasty, but still not as hole-y as I would like. The crust was beautiful. I mean, spot on A+ crust. But…oh, the crumb. It was good, but just not quite there.  Again, I am blaming the low hydration. Something I am going to have to play with. I might try again Monday…

Have a wonderful day, everyone!! 😀

P.S. this is what the inside looks like:

wpid-20140118_123422.jpgnot holey enough!!! needs more holes!!

Ciabatta Poolish

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.

Day 1:

The Poolish

wpid-20140116_081036.jpgafter it has been first mixed, if i recall correctly, it stays this delightfully sticky

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

wpid-20140116_090706.jpgone hour in, i can’t help it, i have to peek

  • If no one sees you eat an entire baguette, it doesn’t count. Besides, to the victor the spoils?
  • Right????
  • RIGHT???????
  • If you’re gluten free, I am really, really sorry.

Anyway, here’s where we are at after four hours.

wpid-20140116_111615.jpgWOW IT IS SO DIFFERENT THAN THE LAST PICTURE, IS THAT A YEAST CELL WAVING A WHITE FLAG AT ME HOLY COW I MUST CALL THE GOVERNOR GET ME A PHONE PLEASE AND THANK YOU

It smells yeasty and wonderful! Can’t wait to bake it up tomorrow!