Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ciabatta Homemade Rustic Style Italian Bread (Flour or Herb Crusted Top)

One of our favorite breads, and that could just eat everyday if I had the time to make it and no problem gaining weight! So, this bread, is a treat for us, and I really make this on cold days, when we need the oven on. A very easy recipe, and delicious rustic hard crusted Italian Bread....if you've never tried this or had it, your in for a real treat. Believe me this definitely taste better than it looks. Referred to as the slipper shaped bread, Ciabatta can be used as a pizza dough, sandwich bread, or just with butter on it, simply delicious and pictures can't describe the great flavor of it won't be disappointed if you are a bread lover and I am a breadaholic! Hopin you give this one a try and enjoy this as much as our family does..

The holes inside are perfect to use as a dipping bread for the delicious olive oil and other flavored oils. Make a great sandwich, as well as panini.

Herb crusted and plain flour Ciabatta Bread

Herb hard crusted, very crisp, crunchy, bread..

Ready for flour on top or coated with herbs and egg white wash.

Let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours covered with oiled plastic wrap in a warm area, till doubled. This wonderful Italian bread is named after its ‘slipper’ shape.
Dough is sticky, use flour on your hands and on a board to shape. Shape into 9 inch irregular shaped loaves, and using an index finders press into the dough to make dimples. Sprinkle flour on time.

Time to grease the bowl, place a piece of oiled plastic wrap on top of the bowl, damp towels over the wrap, then place in a warm area let this triple in size (that's the secret) on the first rise. Or for at least 2 1/2 hours.

Still beating after salt added for 4 more minutes

Beat for a full three minutes, then add sea salt.

Stir together yeast and warm milk n a bow for 5 minutes, they add to electric mixer bowl. Place milk mixture, sponge from the day before, water, oil, sugar and flour on low speed for 3 minutes.

After 4 minutes it looks like this, place plastic wrap on top, wait for a minimum of 12 hours or up to one day. I always do this the night before I make this.

This is the bread dough starter you will stir for 4 minutes. This is an easy delicious dough.

Bread flour is a little more expensive, but the results are always very good. I use this flour for all my bread recipes. Be sure the water is warm to the wrist and you measure and 1/8 teaspoon of yeast. This is similar to a sour dough starter, just the Italian sponge version.

For Sponge Starter Mix
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup room-temp water
1 cup bread flour
To make sponge: stir together, warm water and yeast.
Let stand 5 minutes, until foamy.
Place yeast mixture to another bowl and add warm water and the 1 cup of flour.Stir for 4 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
Let stand at cool room temp at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.

To make the Bread:
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm milk
2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Place in a small bowl yeast,milk and stir, let stand 5 minutes.
In a heavy duty electric mixer, using a dough hook, mix together milk and yeast, add sponge starter( from yesterday), water, oil,sugar and flour at low speed until flour is moistened.
Beat for 3 minutes.
Add salt and knead for 4 more minutes with dough hook on electric mixer.
Place this dough into greased oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a towel on top, place in a warm spot until tripled in volume about 2 hours.
Note: Dough is sticky and full of bubbles, this is normal.
Cut out two pieces of baking parchment paper.Place on cookie sheet and sprinkle flour all over it .
Turn dough out onto a well-floured board and cut in half.
Transfer each half to paper and form irregular ovals like a slipper shape, or you can make pizza's round personal size pan pizza shapes for Ciabatta pizza approx 9 inches in size. Dip fingers in flour and dimple loaves.

Note: For Alternative, omit dusting with flour, brush with beaten egg whites on top of bread dough and sprinkle herbs on top. I use a blend of oregano, basil, parsley and minced fresh garlic, red pepper flakes on top, a little Parmesan and pepper, all around 1/2 teaspoon, if measuring. I always make one plain and one herb crusted.

Cover with oil sprayed plastic wrap, a dampened kitchen towel and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, until almost doubled.
If you are using a pizza stone pre heat stone for 45 minutes before baking bread. Otherwise use a pizza pan with air holes on the bottom lined with parchment.
If you have room for both, put the other loaf on another pan, place in oven. 425°F or until they're golden brown. Turn off the oven, remove the Ciabatta from the baking sheet, and return them to the oven, leave the oven door open a couple of inches. Allow the Ciabatta to cool completely in the oven; this will give them a very crisp crust.
Remove to cooling racks.
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