My quest for good bread baked at home continues. This time, I tried ciabatta.
Ciabatta is one of my favorite kinds of bread, lately. Like many foods I love, when it’s done right, ciabatta has that magic french-fry-like quality: crunchy on the outside, puffy on the inside. Last summer, I was particularly obsessed with ciabatta with pulled pork. This summer, I’m thinking that making my own ciabatta will be perfect for grilled chicken sandwiches and, of course, pulled pork.
For this recipe, I followed this youtube video relatively closely. For the longest time, I was really reluctant to try and bread recipe that called for a rising or proof time longer than an hour. But since I have now become more familiar with (and possibly even more fond of) recipes with lengthy rise times, this style of bread making has now become an option.
1. mix it: 4C flour, 1.5t salt, 2C water, 1 pkg rapid rise yeast. The original recipe calls for a specific amount of yeast, but I buy mine in packets. I just threw in a whole packet of yeast, even though it’s way too much compared to the original recipe. Also, the recipe didn’t specify how hot to have the water, so I used my usual of 120-130 degrees.
2. (don’t) knead it: you don’t need to knead this dough. It’s one of those no-knead recipes. I just mixed things a bit until it came together.
3. rise it: let it sit like this for a day. it’ll rise a lot. then it will fall a little. that’s fine.
4. dump it: dump it onto a work surface for shaping. The youtube video I tried to follow suggested to use a flour-dusted sheet of plastic wrap on top of your work surface. It did make things much simpler.
5. shape it: you have to flatten it out and massage it into the traditional ciabatta shape. It reminded me of when you go to Cosi and see the guys making the flat bread. That is one of my favorite things to watch, when it comes to bread. The second time I made this, I used a rubber spatula rather than my fingers. It was much easier, although I did still need to use my hands from time to time. Once it’s shaped, then dump it from the plastic wrap and onto a dusted sheet pan.
6. Bake it: I don’t remember what the video I found uses, but I have been baking all my breads at 450 for about 25-30 minutes. Also, I have started filling a quarter sheet pan with hot hot water and placing it on the rack below the bread.
7. Eat it: after it cools, which will take a while, we sliced into it and ate it with some butter, which is how I taste test all my new bread recipes. This was quite delicious. The shape wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, although I don’t really have any real idea what a large loaf of ciabatta is supposed to really look like. And I was kind hoping for bigger bubbles in the bread.
Nevertheless, it had the flavors I was looking for. It had a nice and crunchy crust and it was sandwich bread puffy on the inside. We’ve already gone through several loaves like this, and I think it will be a part of the permanent rotation. When we had a ton of leftover ham after Easter, it was a nice complement to some ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches. We also had it with burgers, which is the second way in which I taste test all my new bread recipes, and it was really quite good. I’m thinking that these just might be perfect for some Juicy Lucy’s on the roof deck.