I think by now we’ve established I have a genuine love for bread. Truth be told, I don’t know many other bloggers that have “bread” as a tag on their posts!
My favourite breads are slightly rustic and in a European style. In fact, one of the things I miss most about Europe is the ability to walk to the bakery in the morning and buy a wonderful loaf of fresh bread. In Canada, one either has to rely on a quality small scale bakery (few and far between in my Rocky Mountain town), make the bread one’s self, or depend on the kindness of others.
I chose the later.
On a recent weekend afternoon I was very fortunate to receive a call from one of my co-workers. He had made some ciabatta and wanted to bring some for us to try. This would be the same co-worker who made the delicious caramel ice-cream a few weeks back. I had loved the ice-cream and knew I would love the bread. So I did what any sensible blogger would do – I happily accepted.
Pretty soon, my oh so kind co-worker was at my door bearing the most amazing ciabatta seen this side of Italy. I kid you not, these buns were truly a work of art. I was very impressed by their lovely lightly floured exterior. But it wasn’t until I cut open one of the buns that I literally squealed with delight!!!
Look at those air bubbles!!!! They were so lovely!!! Needless to say they gave the bread an absolutely light and airy texture. Swoon.
I have to confess I quickly broke-out the butter. Quickly (and happily I may add) it joined the ciabatta in a wonderful marriage of flavours. I was in carbohydrate heaven.
Somehow I managed to pry myself away from the butter and use part of the bread to make a sandwich.
I assure you this was some of the best bread I have had in a very very very long time. Thankfully, my co-worker was good enough to share the recipe so you bloggies could replicate this deliciousness at home! The original of this recipe was created Jason Molina in the alt.bread.recipes group.
Jason’s Quick Cocodrillo Ciabatta Bread (source)
500g bread flour
Variation 2 – Semolina
350g bread flour
150g semolina flour
1) In Kitchen Aid style mixer: Mix all ingredients roughly till combined with paddle, let it rest for 10 minutes.
2) With the paddle (I prefer the hook to prevent the dough from crawling into the guts of the mixer), beat the living hell out of the batter, it will start out like pancake batter but in anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes it will set up and work like a very sticky dough. if it starts climbing too soon, then switch to the hook. You'll know it's done when it separates from the side of the bowl and starts to climb up your hook/paddle and just coming off the bottom of the bowl. I mean this literally about the climbing, i once didn't pay attention and it climbed up my paddle into the greasy inner workings of the mixer. It was not pretty! Anyway, it will definitely pass the windowpane test.
3) Place into a well oiled container and let it triple! it must triple! For me this takes about 2.5 hours
4) Empty on to a floured counter (scrape if you must, however you gotta get the gloop out), cut into 3 or 4 pieces. Spray with oil and dust with lots o' flour. Let them proof for about 45 minutes, which gives you enough time to crank that oven up to 500F.
5) After 45 minutes or so the loaves should be puffy and wobbly, now it's iron fist, velvet glove time. Pick up and stretch into your final ciabatta shape (~10" oblong rectangle) and flip them upside down (this redistributes the bubbles, so you get even bubbles throughout), and onto parchment or a heavily floured peel. Try to do it in one motion and be gentle, it might look like you've ruined them completely, but the oven spring is immense on these things.
6) Bake at 500F until they are 205F in the center (about 15-20 minutes), rotating 180 degrees half way through. Some people like to turn the oven down to 450F after 10 minutes, but whatever floats your boat. I usually bake in 2 batches.
Question: Have you ever tried baking bread at home?