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Recipe for Italian ciabatta bread
10:49am Saturday 15th October 2011 in Too Many Cooks
Home baker JULIAN COLE introduces an easy recipe for the Italian bread ciabatta
THERE are more complicated ways than this to make the light and airy Italian bread, sometimes known as slipper bread; but this recipe is a good starting point.
It has been slightly adapted from The Bread Book by Sara Lewis, which contains recipes for hand baking and bread machines (the devil’s apparatus, if you ask me, but plenty of people like them).
An overnight starter, or biga as the Italians have it, is used to give the bread greater flavour.
125g (4oz) strong white flour
Half teaspoon caster sugar
Half teaspoon easy-blend yeast
150ml (quarter pint) lukewarm water
1 tablespoon milk powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
375g (12oz) strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon fast-action dried yeast
250ml (8fl oz) water
Few handfuls of golden semolina
The night before you want to bake, make the starter: put flour, sugar and yeast into a bowl and mix in the likewarm water to make a batter. Cover and leave overnight.
In the morning, add the milk powder, oil, flour, salt, sugar and yeast and mix to make a thick batter. Cover and leave for two hours.
Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with some of the semolina. Then, using well-floured hands, gently pull the dough into two long loaves about 25cms or ten inches in length.
Finish off by sprinkling generous amounts of the semolina over the loaves and then leave uncovered for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven after 30 minutes of rising time, then bake bread for 20-25 minutes, remove from tray with palette knife and transfer onto a wire rack to cool.
Variations: Some recipes call for kneading, which cannot be done in the traditional sense. Instead, you scoop and stretch the dough in the bowl in a series of rapid movements. This is tricky but should improve the bread’s structure.