After reading a comment on my sourdough Ciabatta post, asking some questions about the recipe, I decided to create a video of a Ciabatta recipe in action. It is an unusual bread, to be sure. The dough is exceedingly wet and that makes the dough a bit challenging. First, here is the poolish recipe:
Take 3/4 plus 2 Tbs of cool water (55 degrees or so), add 1 and 1/2 cups of flour and just an eight of a tsp of yeast. Mix them together by hand and refrigerate for two hours. This helps slow down the chemical reactions of the yeast, water and flour. After two hours, remove the poolish and let it sit on the counter overnight (or for 10-12 hours).
The next day (or 10-12 hours later), it is time to make the Ciabatta dough! Here’s the recipe:
1 1/2 cups of water at 86 degrees
4 cups, plus 3 Tbs of flour
1 tsp of Rapid Rise yeast
1 Tb of salt
Put the water and the poolish together in a bowl and break it up by hand for about a minute. Then add the flour, yeast and and salt. Mix by hand for 4 minutes. At the end of the 4 minutes, take 1/4 cup, plus 2 Tb of water at 86 degrees and add it to the dough. You will add the water in three stages. Pour in about a third of the water and thoroughly mix by hand. Add the next third and thoroughly mix. Repeat with the last of the water. Transfer the dough (it will be very wet) to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
At the end of the first rise, tip the dough out on to a well-floured surface. Fold in thirds and cover with plastic wrap for another 30 minutes.
When the timer goes off, we will flour the dough again, fold it over again and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
At this point we are ready to give to divide the dough. Use a mixture of equal parts cornmeal and flour for the final dusting of flour for the loaves. Prepare a kitchen cloth with a liberal dose of flour and place it on a cookie sheet. Divide the dough in half and gently flip one of the pieces over and on to the cornmeal/flour mixture. Then place it carefully on the floured cloth. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
While the bread is having its final rest, preheat the oven to 500 degrees about 20 minutes before baking. At the 10 minute mark, add a pan with 3 cups of warm water to the oven. Place the bread onto a bread peel covered with parchment paper, if you have a baking stone. If you do not have a baking stone. use a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
It is time to put the bread into the oven. Carefully slide the parchment paper on to the baking stone, reduce the temperature to 475 and set your time for 12 minutes.
After baking for 12 minutes, the loaves are ready to bake directly on the baking stone, so we remove the parchment paper and the water pan. At the same time, use this chance to rotate the loaves to ensure even cooking. Make sure that the loaves stay completely on the baking stone. They will burn if allowed to go off the stone.
When the timer goes off, it is time to take the bread out and let it cool. Always place bread on a cooling rack, to ensure that the crust does not become soggy. Let the bread cool for at least 15 minutes before you tear into it. Bread tastes best fresh from the oven, but a few minutes to cool allows the crust and the interior to set.
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