Friday, December 23, 2011

Recipe #3 - Rosemary Ciabatta bread

I love Ciabatta bread. I go several times a week to the nearby Trader Joe's and grab myself a loaf of their par-baked bread. Usually to make an amazing Panzanella tomato bread salad (which will be coming in a bonus post soon).

But then I asked myself - since I have been making breads for the last few weeks, why can't I make this one as well?

Ciabatta bread, here I come.....
So, with that thought, I started browsing through the 1000-page baking book that I had in search of a recipe and I found it - a regular but decadent Ciabatta. But, I always like to take it up a notch. So I decided to make a Rosemary flavored one.

And making that change was really really difficult. I had to use all my strength to add a teaspoon of dried rosemary to the batter. Yes, folks, adding things are hard (I'm just kidding).

This is a recipe you have to plan for though. The reason is that you have to make a biga, or a flour-yeast mix, that needs to ferment for 24 hours. Then that biga is used in the rest of the recipe.

You make the batter, which is straightforward. The batter will be quite wet and sticky, but do not fear - that's how it should be.

After letting it rise for an hour and a half, I flash-steamed it in a hot oven and then baked it in a loaf pan till it was crusty and brown on the outside. Even though the batter is initially wet, pouring it in a loaf pan was a stroke of genius, because it takes on the shape of the pan.

I did find that using bread flour made it a whole lot better. From now on all of my breads will use bread flour.

Bottom line, this bread was absolutely amazing and delicious. The one thing I did find was that the recipe called for too much salt. In the recipe below, I've changed it to cut it by half. But again that's just because I don't like overly-salty goods.

I'm sure you'll have fun making this bread.

Rosemary Ciabatta bread
Adapted from Baking and Pastry - Culinary Institute of America
Yield: 1 loaf


73 g Bread flour
40 mL water (a little less than 1/4 cup)
a pinch of instant dry yeast

Final Bread dough:
152g bread flour
1 g of instant dry yeast
a little less than 3/4 cup of water (136 mL)
2.5 g of salt (half the salt in the recipe)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

To make the biga:
1. To prepare the biga, combine the flour, yeast, and water, and mix on low speed for 3 minutes until thoroughly combined.
2. Allow the biga to ferment for 24 hours at room temperature. It will get bubbly and airy and expand.

To make the final dough:
1. Combine flour, yeast, water, biga, dried rosemary, and salt. Mix on low speed for 4 minutes and then medium speed for 1 minute. The dough should be blended, but not too elastic - and it will definitely be a wet dough.
2. Ferment for an hour and 15 minutes.
3. Grease a loaf pan (9 by 5 by 2 inch pan).
4. Pour the dough into the loaf pan and allow it to recover for 15 minutes and then ferment for another 45 minutes
5. Preheat the oven to 460 F.
6. Open the door and spritz or splash some water into the oven - it will form steam. Very quickly load the loaf pan into the oven and close the door.
7. Bake the bread for about 25-30 minutes, keeping an eye after 15 minutes. Once it gets brown and crusty, turn off the oven and vent it for 10 minutes. Take the bread out the pan and allow it to cool completely.


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