Homemade Artisan Ciabatta Bread Recipe
Baking the Story
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Fabio came around for a cooking night; I’d been making bread, so he suggested that we make ciabatta, a favourite of his.
“I remember we always had one for Sunday dinner time fresh from Grandma’s oven,” he said.
So I thought I’d pass this recipe on because it is such fun to make and even more fun to eat and enjoy, which—let’s face it—is what food is all about. Although I think Indian cooking is my favourite, Italian food comes in at a close second. When I worked in Russia, some of my clients there were Italian, and they were so passionate about their food and life that it is difficult not to be a favourite.
You'll Start With a Special Sponge
This recipe is simple, but it needs a little bit of care and time to get it right. You need to make a very wet or loose mix for this, and it can get a bit messy.
You start with what is known as a flying sponge, which is a combination of flour, water, and yeast that gives extra lift and improves the bread no end.
This Is What You Need
Ingredients for the Sponge
- 100 gms strong bread flour, if you can get ciabatta flour or any Italian flour so much the better.
- 100 ml warm water
- 7-10 grams of fresh yeast. You can use quick acting, you will need one sachet or 7 gms.
Mix everything together and leave somewhere warm for 20 minutes or until it has gone spongy.
I usually make mine over a few days, each day adding more flour and water. It is well worth making the effort.
Ingredients for the Bread
- 400 gms of the same flour as above
- 500 ml of water. The total water in the mix for this should be about 80%.
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2 tablespoon of butter
- 1 tsp sugar
Step One: Preparing the Sponge
- Now add the flour to your mixing bowl, make a well in the middle, and add the sponge.
- Cover the sponge with the rest of the flour, and leave it to soak about 15 minutes.
- Now start to mix. Once the flour is all mixed, add salt, butter, and sugar. The dough will be very loose, not possible to knead, watch for thin strands of gluten beginning to form. Now turn it out into a flat tray dusted with cornmeal flour.
The Sponge Should Start to Bubble
Keep Your Pain Dusted With Cornmeal Flour
Step Two: How to Fold & Pour Your Soft Dough
- As you pour the mix, come back on yourself and create a fold; do this as many times as you can.
- Leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes before putting it in the fridge overnight.
- When it comes out of the fridge, it will be slightly risen from before. Now with a scraper or spatula, fold the dough over itself from the left then the right, turn the tray 90º and fold again left to right.
How to Fold Your Dough
How to Pour Your Dough
Step Three: Cooking the Bread
- Set your oven to gm7 or about 425º. Let the dough rest for about an hour, and then pop it in the oven for 25-30 minutes. (If you have an oven stone, make sure it is up to heat before you use it.)
- Just before you do this, mist the top of your dough with cold water, this will give it a great crust. My grandma used have a tin in the bottom of the oven which would be very hot, as she put the bread in, she would splash a little water into the tray to create a little steam.
- When the bread turns golden brown, take it from the tray and put it directly onto the stone for another 3-5 minutes just to make sure the bottom is cooked; transfer it to a wire rack to cool.
So that is Fabio’s recipe, we ate it with thick butter and with a little soup we’d made; unfortunately, the girls came home, and we had to share with them.
Fantastic-Tasting Bread Every Time.
The big air holes make it a great bread for dipping. Use it with soup, curry, pasta, or a good old-fashioned, homemade broth.