Saturday, December 29, 2012

Recipe: Ciabatta

Based on a recipe from March 2009 Cook's Illustrated.  Prepared for dinner on December 23, 2012. Makes 2 small loaves.


5 ounces (1 cup) bread flour
⅛ teaspoon rapid rise yeast
½ cup room temperature water
10 ounces (2 cups) bread flour
½ teaspoon rapid rise yeast
1½ teaspoons table salt
¾ cup room temperature water
¼ cup room temperature milk


  1. For the biga: in a medium bowl, stir together flour, yeast, and water.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and let it stand 8–24 hours at room temperature.
  3. Put the biga into the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough ingredients.
  4. Mix with the paddle attachment on low until well combined and a shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute.
  5. Mix on medium-low until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and collects on the paddle, about 5 minutes.
  6. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium until the dough is smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes. The dough will be sticky.
  7. Transfer the dough to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  8. Using a rubber spatula or bowl scraper that is coated with oil or cooking spray, gently fold half of the dough over itself.
  9. Turn the bowl 90° and fold again.
  10. Repeat the process six more times for a total of eight folds.
  11. Cover the bowl and let rise 30 minutes
  12. Repeat the folding process.
  13. Cover the bowl and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in volume.
  14. Place oven rack in middle position with a baking stone or baking sheet and heat to 450°.
  15. Gently transfer the dough, so that it does not deflate, to a generously floured work surface.
  16. Flour the top of the dough and gently cut it in half.
  17. With generously floured hands, turn each half cut-side up and dust with flour.
  18. Gently press each half into a 6- by 12-inch shape.
  19. Fold from the short sides towards the center, overlapping the folds, creating a rectangle approximately 4- by 7-inches.
  20. Place each onto a well-floured 12- by 6-inch sheet of parchment paper, flour the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  21. Transfer the parchment paper and risen loaves onto a pizza peel or inverted baking sheet.
  22. With floured fingertips, gently poke each loaf to form a 6- by 10-inch rectangle.
  23. Spray the dough lightly with water and transfer onto the preheated baking stone of baking sheet.
  24. Twice more during the first 5 minutes of baking, spray the loaves lightly with water.
  25. Bake until deep golden brown and an instant read thermometer reads 210° in the center of the loaf, 22–27 minutes.
  26. Cool on wire rack to room temperature.

Form biga from flour, yeast, and flour.

Let biga rise at room temperature 8-24 hours.

Mix biga with remaining ingredients.

Mix until the dough pulls away from the bowl.

Knead with dough hook until smooth and shiny.

Transfer to a large bowl and let rise until doubled in volume.

Fold 8 times, rise 30 minutes, then repeat.

Gently turn the sticky dough onto a well-floured surface.

Divide in two and press into 12- by 6-inch shape.

Fold into 4- by 7- inch rectangles.

Let rise 30 minutes.

Spray lightly with water and bake on baking stone until deep golden brown.

Cool to room temperature.

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