Quick Ciabatta Bread
It's Groundhog Day! Time to watch Bill Murray reliving everyday over and over and over! Just kiddddding. It really means that because Punxsutawny Phil saw his shadow this morning (doesn't he always?) we have six more weeks of winter to look forward to! Luckily, I live in Southern California, where winter is sort of just the 2 week transition between two very hot, very long summers.
Ciabatta bread has nothing to do with Groundhog Day, but I bet Phil would love this bread! Its light, flavorful, soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Just what a ciabatta should be! We found this easily prepared recipe over at Holy Cow Vegan. Its super easy to make and doesn't take all day to rise. Plus, its YUMMY! And...drumroll please...it was the very first ciabatta bread I've ever made! I was pretty pleased with the result and will definitely keep this recipe!
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar (speeds rise)
1) Mix sugar, water, and yeast in a stand mixer bowl and set aside for about 5 minutes, giving yeast time to begin working.
2) After the five minutes, add flour and salt to the mixture. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle, mix until combined. The mixture should be slightly thicker than a pancake batter would be and should not pull into a firm dough.
3) Let mixture stand in bowl for about 15 minutes.
4) Turn on mixer to medium/ high setting for about 6 minutes. The dough will start to make a flapping noise and begin to rise up the sides of the bowl.
5) Switch the paddle for a dough hook and knead for another 6-7 minutes, until the dough starts pulling cleanly off the sides of the bowl. It will look smooth at this stage but still very sticky and loose.
6) Grease a bowl and pour the dough into it. Cover with a plastic wrap or kitchen towel and place in a warm spot for about 1 1/2-2 hours. Dough will have tripled.
7) Prepare a cookie sheet by lining with parchment paper and dusting liberally with flour.
8) Pour the dough out of the bowl onto the cookie sheet. Dust with flour.
9) Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into two pieces. Use the scraper and your hands to shape the dough into two flat logs, tucking irregular pieces underneath. The bread is supposed to be 'rustic' so don't bother trying to make it look perfect. They logs should be placed about 6 inches apart.
10) Dust the logs again with flour, then cover with a loose kitchen towel and place in a warm spot for about an hour, until logs are risen and puffy loooking.
11) About half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone in place. Place an empty pan on the bottom rack while preheating as well, adding a cup of water to it just before you place the bread in the oven.
12) Place the loaves directly onto the stone with the parchment paper by sliding them off the pan. If this seems tricky, simply place the entire baking sheet into the baking stone.
13) Bake for 25 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.