Ciabatta has been on my list of recipes to try for some time , and I wish I had made it sooner. I had no idea how simple ciabatta is to make. This recipe is not complicated , although it does take a bit of planning ahead since the Biga or sponge needs to be made the night before you plan to bake the bread.
Makes 2 loaves
For the Biga /Sponge:
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
½ cup water, at room temperature
For the Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 TBS EXtra Virgin Olive Oil
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
¾ cup water, at room temperature
¼ cup whole or 2% milk, at room temperature
1. Make the Biga Or Sponge : Combine the flour, yeast and water in a medium bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until a uniform mass forms. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
Make the Dough:
I used stand mixer to make the dough
1. Place the sponge and the dough ingredients (flour, salt, EVOO , yeast, water and milk) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
and mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Change to the dough hook and knead for 2 minutes at low speed, then 5 to 7 minutes at medium speed. The dough will be very sticky. Knead briefly on a well-floured surface, adding as little flour as possible, until the dough is still sticky but beginning to show evidence of being velvety, supple, springy, and moist.
2. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hours. The dough should be full of air bubbles, elastic, and sticky.
3. Oil 2 baking sheets and transfer half the dough onto each carefully .Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces
Roll each piece into a cylinder, then stretch each cylinder into a rectangle, pulling with your fingers to get each piece long and wide enough. It should be approximately 10 by 4 inches. Try to avoid knocking off all the air. Using well oiled hands shape the dough into a rectangular loaf about 1 inch thick.
4. Sprinkle the loaves with a little APF and leave them uncovered in a warm place for about an hour or so . Preheat the oven to 425F.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the loaves have risen and are light golden in colour. Tap the bottom to check if they sound hollow. Transfer the ciabatta loaves to wire racks to cool.
The bread can be wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Wrapped with an additional layer of foil, the bread can be frozen for up to 1 month. To recrisp the crust, thaw the bread at room temperature (if frozen), and place unwrapped bread in 450-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes.