Homemade Ciabatta

I’m intimidated by bread making.

Well, okay. I make bread in my bread machine all the time and that couldn’t be more easy. I put ingredients inside and push a button and a few hours later there is a hot loaf of bread in my kitchen. Like it was made by fairies or elves or something… if those fairies or elves are a machine. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m intimidated by bread kneading, and rising, and thick sticky dough on my fingers and flour all over the counter tops. That is what I hate, and for good reason. You can see even that the recipe I’m posting didn’t quite turn out for me. But… since I think I know why, and since it still tasted fantastic, I am going to go ahead and tell you about it.

I love Ciabatta, this versatile Italian bread that goes just as well with your deli meats as it does with butter and jam. I found this recipe from The Easy Way to Artisan Breads & Pastries. It looked simple enough, so I decided to conquer my fears and give it a try.

Since I don’t have a stand mixer, I used my bread machine on “dough” cycle to mix up the dough for me without having to burn up my hand mixer. From there I added flour and began to knead. (This is probably where my bread went flat. Even though the dough cycle has a built-in rise time, in the future, I will take the dough out and place it in a greased bowl to rise even longer before kneading. As soon as I opened the bread machine lid the dough just caved in on itself.) Another thought is that the recipe probably works better with bread flour, which has more proteins than all-purpose (which I used) that encourage rising.

Yes, it’s sticky and your kitchen might lay under a thick dusting of flour when you’ve finished, but it it totally worth it. Here are my results! A little flat, but still moist inside and delicious. We enjoyed this immediately out of the oven along with some hot lemon tea and black raspberry preserves. (Mmmm.)

 

 

And for leftovers… what do you do with bread that won’t rise? Loaded flatbread sandwich. Mine had basil pesto, monterey jack, tomato, and black olives. It was delicious. Also, I’m pretty sure Justin (who had his lunch break about an hour before me) was jealous.

 

Homemade Ciabatta

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (or 2 teaspoons quick rise yeast)
  • Cooking spray

 

Directions:

If using a bread machine, add the ingredients in the order listed, select “Dough” cycle, and press start.

Otherwise, use a large mixing bowl to combine the water, olive oil, flour, and yeast. Using the dough hook, mix at low speed for 3 minutes. With the mixer still running, slowly add in the salt and continue mixing for 22 minutes at medium speed.

After this step, OR after the dough cycle of your bread machine is complete, transfer the dough to a large greased bowl, flipping the dough over so that the entire surface is greased. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rest for 1 hour.

Take the dough and place it on a floured work space and flatten with palm to remove air pockets. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large 12″ x 10″ rectangle 1/2 inch thick.

Carefully transfer the dough to a floured kitchen towel, cover with another kitchen town and let rise for another 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 420 °F.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough (still on the towel) into 8 rectangles, each 6″ x 2.5″. Working quickly, turn each one puffed side down onto a lined baking tray one finger’s width apart (they should rise rather than spread).

Bake for 15 minutes or until browned on top and a knock on the bottom produces a hollow sound.

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