Tony has been baking bread for many years and loves experimenting with bread from around the world. He enjoys passing on his experience.
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.
Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on July 09, 2012:
Any home made and baked bread is so wonderful and tasty. Ciabatta I make over severall days usually to give it the beeriness of sourdough.
thanks for visit.
BakingBread-101 from Nevada on July 08, 2012:
I'll admit I am atypical when it comes to baking bread, as most of you know who have visited my website. But when it comes to ciabatti bread, Tony is soooooooooooooo not exaggerating that it is messy! Almost soup itself. Anyone who claims to be able to transfer of ciabatti loaf without it falling flat is a "liar liar pants on fire!" By letting it rise on the pan you'll be partially baking it on, you definitely avoid this issue.
I enjoy the chewiness of this bread and have been known to simply omit a cup of flour from my regular bread recipe!
Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on April 07, 2012:
Derdriu, this is a sort of PPS to comments below.
you ask what soup, may I link to your garden minestrone hub. That first picture is just wonderful.
real tummy scrummy stuff.
You may link to my ciabatta hub if you thought it was good enough to be associated with.
Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on April 07, 2012:
You have been very busy, and I am honoured and grateful that you have spent so much time and effort, I'm very happy.
Your questions, make me feel that I should think more about what surrounds each dish, i.e. what drinks, what soup.
I'm always looking for ways to improve, I read hubs such as yours and Stessily's which I think set the standards here and wish I was as clever.
I think I need to review many of my hubs and answer these questions to add just that little extra. You are truly inspirational ar lass.
The girls had us! what more could they need?;}
see ya later
Derdriu on April 06, 2012:
Tony, What an aromatic, attractive, awesome recipe for Italy's one and only ciabatta! Italian cuisine is my favorite: I love the regional variations but the consistent peninsular and insular commitments to appearance, aroma, and health.
What kinds of soup, pasta and drinks would go with Fabio- and Tony-style ciabatta?
Thank you for sharing, voted up + all.
P.S. I hope that the "girls" got more than the tasty crumbs ;-]!
Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on November 10, 2011:
thanks for comment, you should try it, but it is messy. I forgot to mention it wentinto the oven quite cold and just bloated up. It was proper ciabatta flour, i can tell you where to buy it if you want.
Gordon Hamilton from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on November 10, 2011:
Hi, Tony. Ciabatta is a bread which I buy fairly often. I do use it for dipping in to soups or stews but more often for making bruschetta. I should probably make bread more often and your instructions for making ciabatta are excellent. Given my love of Italian cuisine, this is something I definitely have to try.