I love ciabatta, its a close run thing between this and sourdough for King of Breads if you ask me. Here is the summary of what I learned on a Italian breads course at the excellent Bread Ahead bakery school in Borough Market. The key, as ever, is super high quality ingredients. Going the extra mile to source organic, stone-milled flour will make a huge difference to the finished bread…
- Dissolve the fresh yeast in the jug with the water and add the flour and salt to a mixing bowl (or add the dried yeast to one side of the bowl, and the salt to the other).
- Bring the flour and water together to make a loose, wet dough. Tip it out onto an unfloured worktop and ensuring the bowl is scraped clean
- Now you need to tear and stretch the dough to break up the gluten by slapping it around a bit. Grab a bit, yank it up 10-15 inches above the surface and throw it down hard. Use the scraper to pull it all back together every now and again, whichever method you use. Do this vigorously for 8-9 minutes.
- Line the clean bowl with olive oil and return the dough to it, then leave for half hour.
- Now you need to laminate some air into the dough. This is done by folding it. Get your hands under the far side and pull it up, stretching it enough for you to layer it back over the top. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat until you have done this 4 times. This constitutes one ‘fold’.
- Leave to rest for 30 minutes, then repeat, giving your dough 3 more complete ‘folds’ with half hour between each.
- Leave to ferment for as long as possible, ideally overnight (in the fridge). When ready allow to come back to room temperature.
- Then heavily flour the top of the dough, use a scraper to ensure it’s not sticking to the sides of the bowl, and turn out onto a floured worktop.
- Cut into slipper sizes lengths and turn onto a tray lined with baking paper and either more flour, or a handful of polenta
- Rest for 10 minutes, place into a pre-heated oven 250c and spritz the oven generously with water to generate some steam
- Bake for 16-18 minutes and enjoy warm from the oven with plenty of butter and a pinch of rock salt!