Archives for the day Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Ciabatta bread

 * Trot,trot,trot* This is the sound you would hear often when I make homemade bread/pizza.

 Every now and then, our stumpy little dog “Palette” comes check on me how much I have progressed in the making of homemade bread/pizza.

 After a quick glance, she sometimes sits on the corner,following my motion with her eyes so she would not miss anything.

 Dogs have amazing scent ability,and considering bread making usually takes about 3-4 hours from the start to finish, their nose must be tortured with such a yummy smell floating around in the house for hours.

 Palette usually is a quiet dog who loves to chew her Antlers while we eat.

 When homemade bread/pizza night though, it is a different story. She whines,whines,whines and being restless around the table and pops her head up at far side of the table once in a while signaling us “Hey,I am here. I want nibbles,please!”.

 Especially, when she hears crusty sound when we bite into the crusty bread, it drives her crazy.Crusty crust sound is irresistible for Palette and she just cannot help herself but letting us know that she wants one too.

 If you have been reading food/cooking entries from the past, you would notice that I love to cook/bake and, I make pizza/bread now and then.

 I love bread baking and, for me, bread baking is like comforting in many ways from kneading the dough, aroma while bread is being proofed or being baked,sound of crust when you slice into the bread.. There is something about bread baking that makes the whole experience special.

 When I started baking bread,I got myself a book for bread baking,and I tried one type of recipe for French bread (Baguette) over and over until I get satisfied result from making one. I made so many French bread to learn the basic technique,and get to know more about bread baking in general.

 I find that making artisan bread has depth in learning and more technique,and I have got a lot more to learn about it.

 Just recently, I have made a Ciabatta bread for sandwich.This one is without pre-fermented dough or sponge. It came out good; crusty top and soft inside and, it made quite nice sandwich bread. So, I thought I would share how to make it with you.

 So, how do you make Ciabatta bread? Here is how.

Ciabatta bread…

0. Preheat the oven at 200F and when it reached to 200F,turn the oven off

1. To a microwave safe bowl, pour 1-1/2 C water, microwave about 30-45 seconds or so 

2.Take a temperature of the water and if the temperature was at
110F-115F, add 1.5 tsp of dry yeast, 1 tsp sugar, and mix well and let it sit a
while (about 5-10 minutes)

** If you use jar of dry yeast, make sure the yeast is at room temperature. Cold yeast would not make your dough rise properly.

** Water temperature to rise the dough (proof the dough) should be at 110F-115F.
Lower temperature water would not proof the dough properly, and higher
temperature water would kill the yeast and would not proof the dough

You should see the frothy stuff on top like this..

To a big bowl, add 3-1/4C Unbleached bread flour, 1.5 tsp salt, 1 tbs Extra virgin olive oil
and mix well

For EVOO, first-cold press extra virgin olive oil is the best and
tasty. My favorite brand is “Colavita brand”. It is product of Italy,and
you can get them at local grocery store.

4. Pour the frothy yeast-sugar- lukewarm water mix to flour-salt-olive oil mixture
a little at a time and stir and when dough became to form a ball, toss
them onto lightly floured surface, and start kneading the dough until it becomes smooth surface.. about 6-8 minutes.

** Using silpat mat is easy to work with

** This dough feels a little wet,and sticky but do not add extra flour. The dough should be soft and a little sticky with smooth surface

5.You can test your dough to see if you knead it more. Do the Windowpane test.

What is windowpane test??

Windowpane test is the test the gluten development in the dough.

you do is to cut off small piece of dough,and gently stretch
out/pulling to see if it will hold a paper-thin membrane.If it tore
apart,you would knead a bit more and do the test again.

6. When dough comes together, drizzle
Extra Virgin Olive Oil onto empty bowl and smear it around side and
inside bottom to make easy for you to take the dough out later

7. Place the dough into the bowl,drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the dough and smear the olive oil all around the dough

8. Cover the bowl with saran, and place the dough in the oven,set the timer for 90 minutes

9. 90 minutes later, dough will be larger size in volume

10. Once the dough gets nearly double in volume, take the dough out from the bowl onto the silpat mat/slightly floured surface

11. Cut the dough into 4 pieces and form the dough into rectangle shape by stretching and folding.

** Stretching-folding method for shaping the dough **

1. Dust the top of the dough with flour a little and pat the dough to make the shape into rectangle,and hold both sides and stretch them to about double in size

2. Fold the dough over the letter folding way to make it to back to rectangle shape again

3. With dough scraper, cut the top,bottom,right hand side to trim the dough


12. Place them onto pan sheet where you sprinkle yellow cornmeal over non stick foil

** If you have nice size baking stone, use them instead

13. Spray EVOO on top of the shaped dough,and sprinkle a bit of flour, cover the pan with saran,and put it back into oven for another 30-45 minutes until dough gets nearly double in volume

14. Prepare for heath baking

What is heath baking?

Heath baking is the method of bread baking directly on to hearth of oven.

With hearth baking, it can radiate the heat directly into the dough as soon as possible and it makes crisp crust on outside.

Hearth baking also use steam by misting the water for shiny crust finish,and also allow the dough additional time to spring in the oven.

For this, I have used heavy bottom try-ply stainless steel sautee pan from calphalon.

1. Take out the proofed shaped dough from the oven and put an empty heavy duty stain less steel sautee pan or roasting pan (something it can take the 500F heat and something that would not buckle with high heat) or cast iron pan on the top rack

2. Preheat the oven at 500F

** While oven is preheating, boil the water; enough amount to cover bottom of the heavy duty sautee pan; about 1 C

3.  When oven is preheat with 500F, take off the saran and place the bread with sheet pan on one rack down from the empty hot heavy duty sautee pan

4. Take out the empty hot heavy duty sautee pan,and place the big lid in front of your body to protect you from spattering hot water

5. Pour 1C of hot water into heated hot heavy duty sautee pan

** Please be careful with spattering hot water

6. Put the heavy duty sautee pan back on to top rack and close the oven

7. If you have plant mister bottle, you can do extra steaming by spraying the oven for 3 times with 30 seconds intervals after dough went into the oven.

** Misting is not wetting the dough with water

** If you do extra steaming with mist spray bottle, do not spray water onto light bulb or glass

8. After 5 minutes dough in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 450F

9. Bake 10 minutes and rotate the sheet pan 180 degree

10. Bake another 10 minutes,rotate the sheet pan 180 degree

11. Check the doneness.If not done,continue baking.

** Color should be golden

** Bread temperature should be at 205F in the center

(Put the meat thermometer on back of the bread and read the temperature)

** When you tap the bread, you should hear hollow sound

12. Cool it off on cooling rack

** As bread sits, crusty top will soften. I personally prefer crusty crust and, I wait just enough for bread to gets to the temperature I can handle,and eat them while it is still warm and enjoy crusty crust.

** This recipe can yield about 4-5 Ciabatta Bread loaves ( 4″ x 7″ each). I have baked 3 loaves plus ball shaped tiny one on the day,and 2 more laves are in the freezer.

 All I need to do is to let it thaw in the fridge day before and, proof once (since I froze some of the bread dough I used for this recipe intended to bake everything and eat within 2-3 days, it might not rise as much) and bake them the same way I did with fresh bread dough.

When you make bread,pizza, you can freeze the dough for later use.If you make lots of cookies, you can freeze the cookie dough in the freezer too.

Freezing dough is one way to cut the long bread making time short and enjoy the fresh baked bread in short time. If you know in advance that you will freeze the bread dough, many bread baking website recommends to increase the amount of yeast (1/3 more or double) than the recipes called for in the dough so it will rise when proofed.

You can also bake bread, and freeze the baked bread and reheat it when you want them.

If you freeze the baked bread, wait till it gets cool completely,and wrap it with saran and wrap it over with foil.Then,when you want to reheat the baked bread, remove the saran and re-wrap the bread with foil and warm them up in the oven at 350F- 375F for about 15-20 minutes.

You can do the same with pizza.

Our stumpy dog “Palette” asked me ” Is that mine?” staring at the small ball shaped bread…

Since I have tortured her nose with yummy smell in the air for hours for bread making, I gave the small ball shaped bread to her.

She was very excited about it and while she was on “wait” cue, I saw the drool strings coming out from her mouth non stop.

She had one nice jackpot snack day

What do you put for your sandwich?



Aug 28, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized