I decided I needed to jump on the bread-baking bandwagon once again. I got a little lazy for a while there and haven’t made any bread, but I have been itching to start back up again. There are so many amazing breads out there, I need to stop making the same-old-same-old and try something new!
I decided to try my hand at Sourdough Ciabatta because my starter, Felix, was looking a little languished in the back of the fridge. I know, I know, how is that even possible?! But with all the allergies, moving, and other ridiculousness going on lately, I just haven’t had a lot of time to play.
What Makes Ciabatta Bread Different?
Ciabtta bread is mostly used a side bread or for sandwiches. It is a soft bread with large open holes. It can be compared to a French Baguette. It is great for tearing with your hands and dipping into olive oil!
Ciabatta, if you have never made it before, is a very wet, very sticky dough. Not so much a “bread dough” as a “dough soup”. The original directions state to mix and knead everything by hand, on a “bed” of flour, without getting any extra flour in the dough, of course.
I could tell right away that was not really going to work for me. I just can’t have a giant sticky oozing mess all over my counter and be trying to not incorporate any more flour in and keep my cool.
It just doesn’t happen.
So I adapted the recipe for using the machine, and while it was still a sticky soupy mess, it wasn’t as big of an “oozy floury mess all over my kitchen”.
Obsessed with Sourdough? Fuel your obsession with these:
Sourdough Ciabatta (adapted from Wild Yeast and “The Bread Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum )
465 grams flour
76 grams whole wheat flour
17 grams salt
26 grams olive oil
610 grams mature 100% hydration sourdough starter (that’s a lot, I know, so be prepared!!)
355 grams water
extra white flour for dusting
In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the flours, salt, olive oil, and 280 grams of water until the ingredients cohere.
Switch to the dough hook and knead for 10 minutes.
Add the rest of the water to the dough and mix slowly until it is absorbed. The dough will be very soft and sticky.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in it.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment at room temperature for 30 minutes.
While keeping the dough mostly in the bowl, grab two ends of the dough, pull and stretch it (imagine taffy) and fold it back on itself. This is a messy, and more like oozing than folding. Repeat.
Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap again and allow it to ferment for another 30 minutes.
Repeat the folding, then re-cover the dough and allow it to sit for another 30 minutes.
Place the covered bowl in the fridge and let it sit overnight (7-12 hours).
In the morning, take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Liberally dust your counter with flour, and turn the dough out onto it.
Sift a little flour on top of the dough.
Starting at the center, and being careful not to deflate the dough too much, use your fingertips to gently stretch the dough out into a rectangle.
Cut the rectangle in half with a pastry scraper so that you form two loaves.
Take each loaf and push the sides in a bit, gently forming each half of the dough into a “loaf” shape (about 10-11 inches long and about 4-5 inches wide).
Place each loaf onto a floured couche, sift a little flour on top, cover, and allow to rise until doubled, about 1.5-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 475 Degrees, with a baking stone on the middle rack and a cast iron pan on the bottom rack.
Gently and quickly transfer the loaf from the couche to the baking stone.
Toss 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the cast iron skillet below, and close the door.
Bake for 5 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 450 and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown (rotate the bread at 10 minutes to ensure even baking).
Turn off the oven, leave the bread in the oven, and crack the door open with a wooden spoon wrapped in foil, and allow the bread to cool for 5 minutes.
Remove the bread from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack until completely cool.
Brush off any flour from the surface of the bread.