No-fuss, simple Ciabatta bread

Posted by Alastair Otter on August 17, 2010
Posted in Food

I’m going through a bread phase. There is something uniquely fulfilling about making your own bread; it’s not just that it tastes better than the soft, sliced bread you get in supermarkets, it’s more than that.

Perhaps it is because in its simplest form bread-making is such a basic skill. And yet it can also involve great skill and artistry.

One of my favourite breads is Ciabatta. Making a good Ciabatta bread can be time consuming and pretty fiddly. This is my super-simple version which gives a great result but doesn’t take much time. It also produces excellent rolls for things like hamburgers.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

You could make this by hand but I tend to stick all of the ingredients into my bread machine and use the dough setting. I start with the water and flour, add the rest and set the machine. The resulting dough is pretty soft and sticky, which is another good reason to use a bread machine.

Once the dough is ready, take it out of the bread machine, place on a board, cover with a large bowl and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

Next, split your dough into two and shape into oval shapes. Alternatively, split the dough into six or eight pieces to make bread rolls.

Leave these to prove for about an hour. In warmer climates this may take less time, and in colder ones you may need more.

Once the dough has risen, place it in a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees C for about 20-25 minutes, until nicely browned. Spray the loaves lightly with water ever three minutes for the first ten minutes of cooking. This prevents the crust browning too quickly and keeps the crust moist enough to keep on rising. Spraying more than this can make the loaves very pale.

If you’re making bread rolls out of this, brush the surface with milk or egg before cooking. The milk gives the bread a lighter shade than the egg and the egg gives a deeper glaze.

Remove the bread from the oven and stand on a wire rack to cool before eating.

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