Saturday, March 12, 2011

What's Ciabatta With You?

Baking bread is hard...blah, blah, blah. You have to measure everything...blah, blah, blah. Kneading it is exhausting...blah, blah, blah. None of this is true! There are many recipes on this site, but honestly, Chris has never measured anything in his life! The only thing you need to make these loaves is a pizza stone and patience. Here is his ciabatta "recipe".

King Arthur bread flour
instant yeast (Chris uses Hodgson Mills, Red Star, or Dr. Oetker)...don't use Fleischman's, it sucks.
cornmeal for dusting

To make bread for Saturday morning start Thursday night. This process takes 2 days. On Thursday night put 2 cups of flour, a giant pinch of salt, and 1/4 tsp. of yeast into a bowl. Mix together. Start adding room temperature water a little at a time (straight from the faucet). Stir constantly while doing this. You want the consistency of very thick pancake batter. You do not want a ball of dough...and you do not want soup! If you get either of these, add more flour or more water to adjust. Once you have your "thick glop" cover the bowl with plastic wrap tightly and leave it in a draft-free (warm) spot in your kitchen. Congratulations, you have just made "the sponge". Go to bed. Friday morning before you go to work check on your monster. It should have doubled in size and thousands of small bubbles should have formed on the surface. If you sneak a sniff it will smell like a stale beer. Keep it wrapped up...but now, put the whole bowl in the fridge. Go to work. When you come home take the bowl out of the fridge and leave it alone for a few hours to bring it back to room temperature. Now add 2 more cups of flour to "the sponge", another huge pinch of salt, and about 1/2 tsp. of yeast. You do not have to knead it, but get in there with your hands and make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated. This time you want the dough to form a slimey, wet ball. Add more water if you need it. If you are still at a batter consistency add more flour. Wrap the bowl back up and leave it alone at room temperature. Go to bed. Saturday morning, with a wet spatula gently work the dough onto a clean countertop. Do not flour your don't want unfermented flour getting into the dough at this point. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form them into loaves as long as your pizza stone. Place the loaves on a piece of parchment paper that has been dusted with cornmeal. Dust the top of the loaves with cornmeal and flour (we're not mixing the flour in...just dusting, so it is okay). Put the parchment paper on either a pizza peel or upside down tray...something that will deliver it into the oven (Chris uses a cookie sheet). Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel. Let them sit for 2 hours before putting into the oven.

Setting up the oven:
Preheat the oven to 500F. On the very bottom rack place a cast iron pan or empty roasting pan. In the middle rack in the oven place your pizza stone. Do this one hour before you put your loaves into the oven. Here is the order of attack: loaves onto the pizza stone (parchment paper and all...not the plastic wrap or kitchen towels!). Pour 2 cups of boiling water into the cast iron pan. Slam the oven door closed. Count 30 seconds. Get a spray bottle and spray a bunch of mist into the oven. Wait another 30 seconds, and repeat. Wait another 30 seconds, and repeat again. Come back in 20 minutes. The bread will probably be baked...but leave in the oven as long as you want to achieve the desired color. Take a look at this video if you are completely confused.

Some people eat their bread with cheese. Some do butter. Chris does anchovies straight out of a can.

No comments:

Post a Comment