Ciabatta (Poolish Version)
Try to disagree with me on this--there is no better smell than freshly baked bread. *Deep breath* Ahhh.
Most people that I know feel that making bread is too difficult, but its not... quit kidding yourself, you lazy bums. Bread can be made with the simplest ingredients, just flour and water. Surprised? I was; try mixing those two together and baking and you'll get a bland flat bread. Hey it's still bread!
This recipe is much much much more complex. It was so complex that I shortened it down to what I thought were the main bullet points that would get the job done. If my significant other is reading this right now, he would look at me while sighing. "Now April, there are reasons why things are done a certain way." I completely agree, but right now time and hunger is of the essence.
This ciabatta recipe takes at least two days to complete. The first step, the poolish, will take not even five minutes of your time. Basically, mix the room temperature water, flour, and yeast together in a medium bowl then cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area for one hour. After one hour is up, the dough should look like the picture, all bubbly like you can almost smell the yeast through your monitor. Then just toss into the fridge for a day or so. Now you may go enjoy a delicious beer, uninterrupted.
So now it's day two and the poolish smells so yeasty and yummy, but tastes bad... trust me. Today is going to be a busy day, at least it felt like it for me trying to accomplish this while taking glamorous pictures at the same time. Today the poolish is mixed in with the rest of the bread ingredients then its fold, rest, fold rest, cut, shape, and then place in couche.
Have you ever heard of a "couche"? Ya, me neither. It's basically a canvas cloth that is oiled then floured down repeatedly and never washed. It gives breads a fabulous crust. I obviously did not have this couche thing in the house so I had to improvise. I luckily found some medium thick canvas from my sewing days and sprayed it down with oil and dusted it with flour. I betcha you can find a real nice one online for a pretty penny, but I believe this one only cost about $1.50 worth of material. Now that I have one, I will be sure to use it in future bread making escapades. To store it, just put it in a ziplock baggie in the pantry, or wherever you like to keep odd ball items such as this.
So once the bread rises, its time to get it in the oven. This is where I made my big mistake; the recipe I was using said to dimple down the loaf if it is too tall. What exactly is too tall? Meh, I went ahead and put my lovely finger prints all over the top of the loaves and threw them in the oven. This is why my ciabatta bread did not have the nice large holes all throughout the bread. It turned out more like a sandwich bread, ew! At least it still had that delicious ciabatta taste. DO NOT DIMPLE YOUR BREAD. That is all. 🙂
I paired the bread with a chocolate stout, which sounded perfect to me at the time. It was chocolaty and smooth, but in hindsight it probably did not go well with the rosemary oil dip. Heh... I'm a beer addict, everything goes good with beer to me. 😀
Ciabatta (Poolish Version)
2 1/2 cups or 11.25 ounces of unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 cups or 12 ounces of water at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon or .03 ounces of instant yeast
I always sift my flour, but do what you like. Combine all three ingredients in a bowl and mix until the flour is wet and the texture is like a very soft sticky dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it hangout in room temperature for three to four hours. When its done, you'll know because the dough becomes spongy, bubbly, and possibly foamy. Immediately refrigerate it at least overnight, but it will keep for three days in the fridge.
3 cups or 13.5 ounces of unbleached bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoons or .44 ounces of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons or .17 ounces of instant yeast
3 1/4 cups or 22.75 ounces of poolish
6 tablespoons to 3/4 cups or 3 to 6 ounces of lukewarm water*
*Feel free to substitute water with milk or buttermilk for all or part of the water
- Remove the poolish from the refrigerator and let it warm to room temperature for about an hour.
- Start to make the dough by stirring together the flour, salt, and yeast in a four quart mixing bowl then add the poolish and six tablespoons of water. You can use either a large metal spoon or the low speed on the mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix until the ingredients form a sticky ball. If there is some loose flour, add additional water as needed and continue to mix. Switch to the dough hook after the dough has created a smooth, sticky dough.
- Sprinkle enough flour on the counter for your workspace. Transfer the dough to the bed of flour and start by stretching and folding the bread under.
- Spritz the top of the dough with spray oil and dust with flour then cover loosely with plastic wrap.
- Let rest for 30 minutes then stretch and fold under again, spray with oil, dust with flour then cover
- Let dough ferment on the counter for 1.5 to 2 hours, it will expand some, but not double in size
- Set up a "couche" by carefully removing the plastic from the dough and shape the dough into a rectangle and place on a smooth non-terry cloth towel or piece of cloth; against mist the dough with spray oil and dust the dough with more flour then cover with a towel
- Proof for 45-60 minutes at room temperature until the dough has swelled some
- Heat the oven to 500 degrees F and place an empty steam pan on the top rack and a stone on the bottom rack
- Dust the peel liberally with cornmeal or semolina flour and slide the dough out onto the stone then pour one cup of water into the steam pan and close the door for thirty seconds and open it again to spray the walls of the oven with water to create more steam and do this two more times in thirty second intervals.
- Turn the oven down to 450 degrees F and bake for ten minutes then rotate the loaves if necessary and cook for another five to ten minutes or until done.
- Take the bread out of the oven when either the bread center registers at 205 degrees F and/or is golden in color. The loaves will feel hard and crusty at first, but will soften as they cool. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 45 minutes if you can. 🙂