I feel that each time I sit down to write another post, I want to start with “It was late at night. I was browsing the internet, and then I saw…_____”. So was the case with this bread. I was laying in bed ready to go to sleep, and decided to check Pinterest on my phone, when I came across this recipe for Ciabatta Bread by Brown Eyed Baker. Having tried and failed at making Ciabatta bread before, this recipe looked especially appealing since it was pretty straightforward and the pictures of the outcome looked simply stunning. Large holes, chewy crumb and golden crust made it impossible to resist wanting to make it.
From my previous experiences I knew that making Ciabatta requires high gluten flour. Gluten is what allows the dough to become stretched into a paper-thin film without ripping, it is also what gives the crumb that chewy texture and glossy appearance. But the recipe did not ask for high gluten flour like bread flour, so I used my Canadian Unbleached all-purpose flour.
So I got up, and quickly tossed the ingredients together for the sponge to proof overnight. Right there was the first trouble I had. Stirring the called amount of flour and liquid was next to impossible. Sponge usually is either regular dough consistency or runnier, but this though was impossible to even combine together. So I added 1/4 cup more water than what it called for, stirred, covered it and let it rest overnight.
In the morning, I got my dough out, added the rest of called ingredients and once more, my dough looked nothing like the pictures in the abovementioned recipe. I was afraid my mixer was going to break, it was struggling so hard. So I added 1/3 cup more water than what the recipe said. At this point the dough just needed to be knead until it was elastic (like the picture in the recipe) or 10 minutes. My stubborn dough though, wasn’t having it that day. I was able to stretch it into a thin-film (it’s called a window test, needed to check for gluten development), but it looked chunky, not smooth. I continued to knead it for another 25-30 minutes and extremely slowly, my dough got a little more smooth but not much. I gave up and just let it proof until it doubled in size. Then I followed the recipe, split my dough, folded it several times, divided it, shaped it into ciabatta loaves and let them proof. End result was not Ciabatta-bread-like, but definitely like the Rustic Bread from a Portland Bakery I buy all the time (it has only flour, water, salt, and yeast), so yay for me
If you enjoy chewy bread with crispy crust that this one is for you!
Rustic Farmer’s Bread
Make the Sponge:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
1 cup water, room temperature
Make the Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons instant (rapid-rise) yeast
2/3-1 cup water, room temperature
1/3 cup whole or 2% milk, room temperature
Beware! The pictures below show a tripled batch. I recommend that if you go through the trouble you do the same, and freeze the bread you won’t eat right away until ready to eat.
1 day or night before baking the bread make the sponge:
Toss flour, yeast and water in a bowl of a mixer and stir together until it comes together. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature in a draft free place (room temperature) 8 to 24 hours.
Next day, Make the Dough:
Add flour, salt, yeast, water (start with 2/3 cup water and add 1/3 cup more if the dough is not runny) & milk to the risen sponge and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. Combine everything on low speed, then continue mixing for a minute or two. When he dough has come together nicely, change to the hook attachment and knead the dough for about 20-30 minutes. As soon as the dough looks smooth and doesn’t stick to the sides of the mixer stop (this might take longer or shorter depending on your flour).
Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 to 2 hours (depends on how warm the room is) until doubled in size.
Spray your working surface with non stick spray or spread 1-2 tablespoons oil.
‘Pour’ the dough out onto working surface, then with a greased spatula fold the right side of the dough onto itself, then the left side, then side closer to your onto itself, then the side away from you onto itself. Repeat the folding 4 sides one more time. Leave the dough on the counter to rise for 30 minutes, covered with paper or cloth towel.
If working with only one batch, then split the dough in two (I tripled the recipe, so I had 6). Spread it out into a 10×6 rectangle, then roll it jelly roll style into a log. Press down with your fingers all over to flatten it.
About 1 hour before baking, turn oven to 450F and set the rack to the lower half of the oven. If you have a pizza stone or something similar set it on the rack and allow to preheat.
Let the dough rise for 30 minutes, covered. Sprinkle the dough with flour (optional).
Sprinkle the loaf with a spray bottle and put it in the oven on the stone.
Bake for 15 minutes, and once the top is somewhat golden, unpeel the foil and put the bread bottom side up and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Allow the bread to cool completely before cutting, about 1 hour.
This bread can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic or put in a zip-lock bag, for up to 3 days, or refrigerated for up to 1 month if double wrapped in plastic and then 1 layer of foil.
To re-crisp the bread, put it in a 450 oven for 5-7 minutes.
Bon Appetite & Happy Pinning!