A Ciabatta for the Masses! (Stand-up mixer required)
– by Chef Theresa
Until recently I’ve never been one to do a lot of baking. There are two reasons for this. One, I hate following instructions, I am at heart a pinch of this and a dash of that kinda of girl and two, I have a sort of aching fear that I would never be as good at it as my mother. Until one fateful day that I decided whole heartedly that I was sick of store-bought loaves with 101 ingredients and tons of high fructose corn syrup in them. I was going to make my own bread and it was going to be awesome! Well, awesome is a strong word and baking bread is crazy tough. It took a lot of studying and a lot of loaf chucking to get it right and I eventually did. I must say though, if it wasn’t for this loaf I may have given up. This was my first success and it gave me the courage to keep going
I present to you with pleasure. The fastest, fool proof ciabatta ever.
- 1 1/4 cup unbleached unbromated white flour
- 1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (Bobs Red Mill for both)
- 2 1/4 cups water at 100-105 degrees fahrenheit
- 2 tsp highly active yeast
- 2 tsp salt
A quick note. You can absolutely do this with white flour only and get amazing results. If you choose to do all whole grain however, I think you might need to play around with the yeast and salt ratio to get the same kind of lift. This is the most whole grain that I have used so far and it came out nicely. If you have any kind of dough enhancer you like to use by all means go for it just follow the instructions on the pack.
Ok here we go.
Chuck all the ingredients in your stand up mixer. Using the paddle, give it a good mix and let rest for 10 minutes. At this point you’re looking at what appears to be pancake batter, but trust me it will come together. You’re going to definitely want to switch over to the hook attachment now, once this puppy starts to climb it will head over the paddle and straight to the gears of your machine, which is a nightmare. Turn your mixer to high and proceed with the beating of a lifetime. You want to do this until it pulls completely from the sides. This can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes and make sure to keep an eye on it. After it comes together your going to want to plop the blob into a well-greased bowl (emphasis on well). Then we wait. You want it to triple, and oh will it triple. This takes about 2 hours or so depending on elevation, room temperature, etcetera.
Once its ready, drop it on a well floured counter, cut it into 2 to 4 pieces and shape them up a bit. Spray them with oil and dust liberally with flour and let them proof for 45 minutes.
As the proofing comes to an end, set your oven to 500F. I bake these guys on cookie sheets with parchment paper but you can use a well floured pizza stone if you’d like. Once you’re prepped, carefully lift your loaves and give them a flip upside down on to the sheet to redistribute the bubbles. If you have a fair amount of flour underneath your loaves during the proofing process it shouldn’t be too hard to get them up, but they are very wobbly and you have to do it quickly. Now don’t fret, they may look like you have lost all the lift but once you get them cooking, the spring really comes through for you. Baking time is about 15 to 20 minutes, half way though rotate them 180 degrees and in the end you want to have an internal temp of 205F. Let rest to room temp before cutting these puppies open.
That’s it! We’ve used them for sandwiches, paninis, breakfast toast, croutons and whatever else we can come up with. Have fun!!