I have always wanted to bake ciabatta but was held back because of the long winded recipe that can take days to prepare. Most will need you to prepare the poolish (starter dough) and some even encouraged readers to prepare your natural yeast and using sourdough method, requesting special expensive imported flour.. I have set aside all these recipes for the fear that I do not have the passion and financial resources to continue doing.. Even if I issued such recipe, how many readers will want to try since most of my readers are busy readers who wanted no frill recipe?
When I stumbled across a rather straight forward recipe, I read in details, assessed the requirements and i have decided to give it a try. I totally have no regret to prepare these ciabatta. The whole family loved them which is rather unusual. Possibly it is soft with lots of porous structure and a crispy crust.. They were served in the form of sandwiches. Unsure of the reasons, these bread is more aromatic than the soft bread that we used to bake. Is it because of the better baked bread crumbs that create the aroma?
With my limited exposure of handling high moisture content bread, there is no fault in the recipe but my illustration can be perfected. I believed that my ciabatta will be better in my next attempt with this experience. In this illustration, the ciabatta can be further improved if:
- Extended the proofing time. As night is approaching and time is running out, i have baked at least one hour earlier than intended. If I let the ciabatta baked an hour later, I am sure the porous structure will be much bigger resembling those that were sold. However, I will still consider this as a success as it is a soft and spongy interior.
- Better handling of the dough. I have by passed on step of dough flipping just before sending into the oven. This step is supposed to be able to create better porous structure with much bigger holes due to the trapped carbon dioxide. I tried one and to totally give up as it become very messy and the dough deflated..
- Better shaping of the ciabatta. my ciabatta is too flat as I am nervous to deal with soft dough and I have divided the dough into 11 instead of the intended 6-8. Therefore it is flatter than what is sold. In addition, I cannot shape as professionally like those artisan bakers that are familiar to deal with soft dough. Well, having said that, the shape is still there except of various sizes and flatter than what it should be.
- The crumble can be crispier. I do not have those special pizza stones in the house and I have use my best to get a crispy crust. I believed that if I have those pre-heated hot pizza stones in the oven, it will definitely help to produce a crispier crust.
I am not complaining and in fact i am happy to share with readers my mistakes and incorrect handling. I am not an artisan baker, i do not know all the technical terms of sourdough, I do not know all the theories of high water content proofing and I also do not have all the expensive gadgets just to bake this bread. I believed because of all these “negativities”, If I can bake a ciabatta that pleased your eyesight, I am sure you can do it too at home if you are not into artisan bread. Therefore, this recipe is shared with those who have wanted to try baking a quick and easy ciabatta for your home consumption without expensive ingredients and gadgets.
This is a recipe that used almost 100% hydration ratio meaning for every 100 grams of flour, you will need 100ml of liquid. It is an ultra sticky dough that is very difficult to shape. If you have no idea what these figures mean, for the normal sweet bread buns recipe that are common in the region, for 100 grams of flour, the normal liquid required is usually from 50 ml to 70ml. For those that used 50ml liquid, you will find the dough is very nice to handle and you can shape the dough into any fancy shapes that you liked.
But these liquid ratio is needed if you wanted a spongy bread with bigger porous holes that can trap the carbon dioxide. Otherwise, your ciabatta will just like any other bread that you have prepared without an identity. Easier recipe will require at least 75% moisture content but some experienced bakers have used almost 120% moisture content and the dough literally just flow like liquid in work surface..
“Ciabatta (Italian pronunciation: [tʃaˈbatta], literally slipper bread) is an Italian white bread made from wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast, created in 1982 by a baker in Verona, Veneto, Italy, in response to the popularity of French baguettes. Ciabatta is somewhat elongated, broad, and flat, and is baked in many variations. While panino indicates any kind of sandwich regardless of the bread used (whether slices or a bun), a toasted sandwich made from small loaves of ciabatta is known as panini (plural of panino) outside Italy. Ciabatta was first produced in 1982 by Francesco Favaron, a baker from Verona, in collaboration with Molini Adriesi who provided the flour to produce the bread. Favaron named the bread ciabatta as he said that the shape of the bread reminded him of the slipper (ciabatta) of his wife Andreina.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciabatta)
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: Prepared about 8 ciabatta
- 500 grams of high protein flour or bread flour
- 480 grams of plain water
- 20 grams of olive oil
- 15 grams of salt
- 1 packet or 11 grams of instant dry yeast
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Put all the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, use the K hook (for Kenwood) or paddle (for Kitchen Aid) to beat for at least until 2-3 minutes until it resemble a sticky pancake mixture. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
- Change the paddle or K-hook to a dough hook, beat under medium speed for another 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and starts to leave the sides of the bowl. As long as you lift up the dough hook, the dough does not break but looks smooth and flow down easily, it is considered as ready.
- Grease a bowl with some olive oil or non stick spray, put the dough into the bowl, cover with a piece of wet cloth and let it proof until triple in size. In Singapore’s hot weather, it took me about 1.5 hours to do so and note that it is tripled and not doubled like ordinary bread recipe.
- In the baking tray, put a piece of baking powder and heavily dust with some bread flour. Set aside.
- In a work surface, dust heavily with bread flour and pour the dough onto the work surface. Set aside.
- Wet your hand with some water, pat down the dough to push out all the carbon dioxide. Use the wet hand to shape it into a rectangles of 16 inches by 10 inches long.
- Wet your knife with some water or dust your knife with some flour, cut the dough into 8 pieces of 2 inches by 5 inches each. Take one dough and quickly transfer the dough on the baking tray and let it proof until double in size.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 degree Celsius.
- Once the dough have reach double in size and the oven is ready, dust some flour on top of the dough. Before placing the baking tray into the oven, throw a few ice cubes into the hot oven, spray some water mist into the oven and bake the ciabatta for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 180 degree Celsius, continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes.
There is a step I did not do is inversion of the dough before baking to improve the porous hole structure such that the trapped air will not escape. You may Google some videos to see how to flip over the dough and placing the dough into the oven to become a more authentic recipe.
My ciabatta is definitely not beautiful but it is edible and delicious. If you looked at my work in progress pictures, it is such a mess but it still worked out well. So if I can do it, so can you . Do give this rcipe a try if you are like ciabatta.
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