Friday, August 15, 2014

Breadhead Friday: Ciabatta

My go-to bread recipe is Jason's Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta bread.  The term "quick" can be a bit of a misnomer in our gotta-have-it-now society, as it takes more than three hours to make, but compared to other breads with overnight rises and a dozen ingredients, it can't be beat.

Puffy, wobbly, but on the peel

The simplicity of it is incredible.  It's only made of four things: flour, water, salt, and yeast.  And somehow it provides flavor that's way beyond what you'd expect for something so basic.  The crumb is pleasantly chewy, and the inside is almost creamy in texture, full of those big holes that artisan bakers love to achieve.

Goodness baked right in

This is the bread my favorite pizza crust recipe is based on.  There are a few tricks to it, like placing the fragile, wobbly loaves onto a peel without ruining the air pockets, but once you have that down, you have bread that truly unlocks the flavors trapped in the wheat.

Your obligatory cross-section

The dough's terribly wet and sticky, and doesn't behave the way you'd like it to.  You can't really shape it, but if you wanted, you could put it on a parchment-lined French bread pan and make a cylinder out of it.  It needs the flour to grab onto, so you can't just oil everything for this one: you need to dust the parchment and the dough with plenty of flour to get it right.

Look, look!  I got the big holes!

If you like good, simple bread, make this ciabatta.  I've done a little experimenting with putting herbs and powdered garlic into the dough, but the best treat is just eating it straight.  You would not believe that plain white flour, salt, water, and yeast could taste so good.

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