Ciabatta

One of my favourite sandwiches involves a ciabatta loaf, split in two and lightly toasted, smothered in horseradish cream and then stuffed full of juicy, thinly sliced sirloin steak, rocket and slivers of red onion.  Unfortunately I’m left thoroughly disappointed in the standard of ciabatta that’s locally available to me.  So I decided, in true Kelly style, to just make my own.

I love making bread.  I find the whole process satisfying, especially working with yeast.  However ciabatta is one of those doughs that’s notoriously difficult to work with given that it’s so wet, and I’ve always steered clear.  Until now.

I did a lot of research before I settled on a recipe to use.  Making ciabatta can be quite an involved process, and I really wanted to find a simple recipe that I could knock up in a few hours without a lot of faffing.  I finally settled on a recipe by the amazing Paul Hollywood and just switched up the method a little bit to suit me.  Although this isn’t my dough recipe, I wanted to show the step by step process I used.  So it’s more of a recipe review really.  And it’s a winner!  This is the link to Paul’s Ciabatta recipe.

You really do need a stand mixer to make this bread.  I know it’s not something everyone has at their disposal, but the dough is so sticky you just can’t work it by hand.  A dough cutter and scraper (see image below) are relatively invexpensive pieces of equipment however, and these will assist greatly in making any sort of bread, although they’re not essential. The only other peice of equipment you’ll need is a 3 litre rectangular container.  I used an inexpensive plastic lunch box type container.  Paul recommends a square container, but a rectangle works best for my method (and that shape is really easy to come by in most discount shops).

Makes 2 large loaves.

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Dough cutter/scraper (left) Dough scraper (right)

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

10g salt

10g instant yeast

40ml olive oil

400ml tepid water

Fine semolina for dusing

Method

Lightly oil your container thoroughly and set aside.

Place the flour, salt, yeast and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer, making sure that the salt and yeast aren’t touching.

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Add 300ml of the water to the bowl and begin to mix with a dough hook attachment on a slow speed.  Once the dough comes together, slowly add the remaining water and continue to mix for a further 8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is fairly smooth.  It will be very sticky.

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Ciabatta dough

Scrape the dough into your prepared container and cover with a tea towel.  Leave it somewhere reasonably warm.  Your kitchen should be perfect.  You want the dough to double, even triple in size.  It’ll take about 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 220˚C and line a large baking tray with baking paper and make a fold along the centre dividing it into two.  This will help with the shape of your loaves. Dust the bottom with fine semolina.

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Dust your work surface liberally with flour.  The dough will still be really sticky.  This is where your oiled container comes into play.  Gently tip the dough out onto the floured surface.  You want it to roughly resemble a rectangle when you tip it out.  Don’t worry when the dough deflates.  Dust the top of the dough with more flour.

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Take your dough cutter/sharp knife and divide the dough into two along its length creating two long pieces.  Next you’re going to transfer the dough onto the lined tray.  Gently scoop your fingers under each end of one piece of dough and quickly lift it onto the tray.  Gently stretch it out a little bit so that it resembles an oblong.  Repeat with the second piece of dough.  Cover with a towel and leave to rise again for about 20 minutes.

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Uncover and bake for 35 – 40 minutes until golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the base.  Transfer the loaves to a wire rack to cool.

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Ciabatta loaves

This bread makes the most amazing sandwiches….did I already mention that?  Give it a go and see for yourself.

Enjoy!

K x

8 thoughts on “Ciabatta

    • If you follow the steps James you shouldn’t go far wrong. The first batch I made were pretty ugly but tastes terrific. Then I got a bit more confident handling the dough and now I make it all the time. Let me know how you get on if you try it.

      • Yeast is a few months old but still gave a really good rise. I’d estimate it was nearly 3 times the size but deflated a lot when moved on to the floured surface. I left it 20 mins as instructed and it rose again but not loads. Maybe i should have waited longer? i don’t really know what i am looking for so just following instructions….

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