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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mixer Workout: Ciabatta at last!

As I type, the ciabatta dough is fermenting on the counter in the kitchen. It is becoming full of gas and slowly swelling. Full of yeasty life until I take over and pop it into the oven for it's final rise. Sometimes baking is a bit morbid.

Ciabatta: final dough

Biga - you want to take the biga out of the fridge about an hour before you use it,
so it can come to room temp, and cut it into about 8 pieces.
2 1/2 Tbsp milk
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 3/4 cup high gluten flour (or bread flour with 3 Tbsp wheat gluten subbed for 3 Tbsp flour)
2 1/2 tsp salt

-Place the cut up biga, milk, olive oil, water and yeast into bowl of mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed (be careful, sometimes it tries to push some fluid out of the bowl...if you have a bowl guard, use it) just to lightly combine the biga and fluids and to get the yeast dissolved.
-With the mixer turned off, add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed to combine, then switch to medium/high speed.

-Beat the dough for about 8 minutes or until the dough is shiny and glutenous and cleans the sides of the may take a little longer, but this won't take as long as the biga takes to develop the gluten.
-Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl (olive oil) and turn it in the oil to coat. Cover and let it ferment for about an hour and a half or until's sticky!
-Once the dough is doubled, heavily flour a cutting board (don't be shy, go want a good amount of flour, or you will have problems with sticking later).

-Turn the dough out onto the cutting board, lightly flour the top, and divide into 3 pieces.
Gently fold each into thirds with the last crease ending up in the middle. Place the dough, crease side down, on the floured cutting board, cover with plastic and let rest for about 25 minutes.
-Prepare a baker's peel (I find that my wooden cutting board works perfectly as a peel as it fits nicely into the oven) if you are going to bake on a stone, or prepare two sheet pans by sprinkling them with coarse corn meal (this keeps the bread from sticking).
-Gently turn over the dough, and stretch it out to form the loaves. They should be about a foot in length and should sort of resemble slippers. Don't put them on your feet, lay them on the peel or on the sheet pans, cover them with plastic and proof for about 45 minutes or until just about doubled. At this point you should preheat your oven to 450 f. If you are going to rig steam in your oven, now would also be the time to put the pan in the bottom and get a kettle going with some water.

-Once the loaves have proofed, either slide them from the peel onto the stone or place the sheet pans in the oven. Pour your boiling water in the pan in the stove, if you are steaming, do this very carefully..steam burns are not fun! and shut the door.
-After about 10 minutes at 450f, turn the oven down to 400 and bake another 15 minutes. You may have to turn the loaves around to ensure even browning.

-Once the 15 minutes is up, check the loaves...they should feel light for their size, should seem hollow, and should have a nice deep golden brown color. If you feel they need more time, bake them in about 5 minute increments checking after each time.
-Cool the bread.
-Slice and dip in tons of olive oil...make a sandwich, toast it, it's really really delicious!

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Nicole said...

Great post! One of these days I'm going to try it...

Jen the bread freak said...

Thank you! It really is a fun dough to work with if you don't mind stretchy gooey dough :)