Patience. I won’t lie to you, it’s something I tend to lack.
I hate waiting.
Waiting on airplanes.
Waiting at the doctor’s office.
Waiting for life in general.
I know I should learn to relax but it is much easier said than done. I think I have improved though. I just made ciabatta bread and that took a good 2 days.
I’m still wrestling up the courage to make sourdough using the recipes in Nancy Silverton’s “Breads from La Brea Bakery”. I have to wait 3 or 4 days for a loaf of bread? Really?
Let’s take this whole patience thing one step at a time, please and thanks. Ciabatta it is.
adapted from King Arthur Flour – The major difference is that I opted for dry active instead of instant yeast. Instant you can add straight into the dough whereas dry active you must activate in warm water first (otherwise it won’t dissolve and distribute evenly throughout your dough).
For the sponge:
– 1 1/2 cups warm water (around 105-110 F)
– 1 tsp. dry active yeast
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
Mix together the water and yeast. Allow the yeast to dissolve. Proceed when the mixture is foamy and kinda gross looking. Sorry there’s really no other way to describe it. Add the flour and mix to form a very wet, sticky dough. You could do this by hand but I would recommend using a spoon or spatula so you don’t get floury goop everywhere. Now you have your sponge prepared and there is nothing to do but wait. If you are really in a rush this can be as little as a few hours. However if you want your bread to develop some more flavor and depth, it’s better to leave it overnight. In my case I made it around 9 PM the night before and didn’t start the final dough until 4:30 PM the following day. So almost 20 hours. Believe me though, all I wanted to do all day was just go home and make bread! And I apologize, I kept reminding myself to take a picture of the sponge…but then I forgot. It should look exactly as it sounds, spongy. It’s wet and sticky, yet very aerated at the same time. It will double in size, at least.
For the final dough:
– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp. dry active yeast (plus a splash of warm water to dissolve this)
– 1 1/2 tsp. salt
Mix the water and yeast, allowing it to dissolve as previously discussed. Add this, along with the flour and salt to your sponge. Here’s where I remembered that I should be taking pictures.
I decided to transfer the works to a clean bowl (don’t forget to flour the bottom so it doesn’t stick) as the original one was getting a bit grungy.
Let it rise for an hour, punch it down (knock out all the air bubbles). Then let it rise for another hour.
Again the dough should about double in size.
Now you are going to tip the dough out onto a parchment-lined, flour-dusted baking sheet.
Be careful to deflate it as little as possible while dividing it into 2 separate pieces. Gently stretch each piece into a rustic, rectangular loaf. Ciabatta means “slipper” in Italian. How these things resemble slippers, I have absolutely no idea. Just go with it.
Cover with parchment and allow to rise for another 1.5 – 2 hours (this stage is called proofing).
It’s difficult to tell, but they definitely puffed up compared to their original state.
Preheat your oven to 500 F. Once it is ready, pop in your bread and turn the temperature down to 425 F. Bake for about 25 minutes. Ciabatta is unique in that it doesn’t become overly golden in color but it develops a sort of “glow”. Very similar to how my mom politely describes my inability to tan. “Oh Mallory, your skin has a nice glow to it”. Thanks mom, ya right.
Once you have given it some time to cool, the moment has come to slice open your bread and see the results!
As you can see, mine developed a large, open crumb structure (lots of big holes from the air bubbles) that is characteristic of ciabatta. And other wet bread doughs similar to it for that matter. I’m still conflicted as to what impact the seemingly excessive fermentation time (it did take almost 4 hours to rise 3 times) had on the overall outcome. I guess I will be testing out some different ciabatta recipes to find out!
Patience…who needs it?