Ciabatta

It is pretty much the same recipe as the minis but for a large loaf. I wanted to show you some of the experiments that I have been doing simply by changing flour or adding a topping to the bread.

For the loaf on the first image I chose whole grain seeded flour from a well-known supermarket in the UK. For the image showing the loaf with the crust (see below) I used italian Varilla 00 flour, and salt from Maldon with oregano as a topping.

Cooking time: 15 minutes activation, 15 minutes prep + 90 minutes resting+ 10 minutes prep + 3 hours proving+ 30 minutes bake
Quantity: This mix makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients :

500 g flour
370 ml warm water
16gr (a spoon) of dried yeast (grains)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sugar
10gr salt

Tips:

1. I am told that you can use fresh yeast, 12 gr instead. When you buy fresh yeast the bread lasts less time, so bear this in mind.

2. You can freeze the fresh yeast but, i have been told that it looses strength and you should double the amount. For this recipe, I’d use 20gr .

3. To get a crust on the bread, you have to place a dish with water in the oven for the first 20 minutes and then remove it. I have also used another trick: baking the first 10 minutes on 220 /gas mark 7 and the rest on 200/gas mark 6.

4. For the water temperature i generally mix 270 ml of cold water with 100 of boiled one

5. For dried yeast i use the Allinson brand. It comes on a metal tin and its good and cost effective. For the flour, i have been advised to use Varilla 00 from the deli but another friend suggested a more cost effective bread flour from the Lidl . (T o be tested)

6. Despite the fact that sounds a bit strange, preheating the oven helps the fermentation process by bringing the room temperature up.

Cooking instructions:

Preheat the oven to 250 degree celsius

In a bowl mix 100ml of warm water, honey, sugar and yeast until it is all dissolved. (I was told that the same applies to

If you are using dried yeast, leave it foam for 15 minutes. It will activate itself.

In a different bowl place the flour and make a well in the middle.

Pour the yeast mix and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the salt and mix. Follow by adding the rest of the water slowly until the mix is sticky, not soggy.

Bear in mind that depending on the type of flour you use, the mix might reach the right sticky stage prior to adding the full amount, so be mindful.

When the mix smooth , place it in a clean large bowl. Cover the bowl with a wet cloth and let the mix double in warm room ( the oven should have ensure that the kitchen is) at least for 90 minutes

Prepared the working surface: clear film with a layer of flour on it.

Running a spatula around the bowl , separate the mix from it. Pour the the mixture on a flowered sheet . Make sure that you place the part that was at the top of the mix, on the flour side. (Upside down).

For a single large loaf, oil your fingers and give it a shape without loosing the air. Cover it and let it rest for at least three hours. I have left it overnight and the texture completely changes. The bubbles grown and the dough becomes very light but be careful as it might expand beyond the tray or get stuck to the film and the cloth covering it.

Flour the baking tray/ pizzastone and using the film as a tray, flip the mix upside down again. Now the floured top side will be back up. If you choose to add a topping, wet the top of the bread slightly to facilitate the sticking process and sprinkle. Consider sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flaky salt (from Maldon) or herbs for instance.

Bake for 30 minutes in 220 ° C oven as described on the tips section. When the time is up, make sure that when knocking, the bread sounds empty before you take it out.

Let the bread cool upside-down on the cooling rack or similar to ensure that there is air all around it.

Chiabattasal

Photograph by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Recipe adapted from Raffaele Damiano’s (or his friend Antonella’s)

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