No-Knead Ciabatta Bread
Recipe from The Mother Earth News Book of Bread cookbook (Quarto Press, 2015), tentatively scheduled to be released in October.
Ciabatta bread was first produced in 1982 by a baker named Arnaldo Cavallari, from the small town of Adria, near Venice, Italy. Cavallari and other bakers in Italy set out to create a genuine Italian sandwich bread to compete with French baguettes. Ciabatta bread has since become popular throughout Italy, with many regions having their own version; some with a crisp crust and a soft, porous texture, and others — like the kind found in Tuscany, Umbria and Marche — with a firm crust and dense crumb. This recipe results in the latter.
Starter (Day 1):
• 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
• 3/4 cup water, room temperature
Final Dough (Day 2):
• 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
• 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, room
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
On Day 1:
1.Two days (48 hours) before you plan to serve the bread, prepare the starter by stirring together the flour, yeast and water in a small mixing bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
On Day 2:
2. Once 24 hours has passed, prepare the final dough by whisking together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add water, olive oil and starter, and stir with dough whisk or large spoon until mixture just comes together into wet, sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 19 hours at room temperature.
3. Using wooden spoon, stir dough a couple of strokes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for an additional 2 hours.
4. Lightly spray 17-by-11-by-1-inch baking sheet with baking spray. Line sheet with parchment paper, and lightly flour (about 1 teaspoon) in spots where loaves will go.
5. Turn dough out onto floured work surface and sprinkle with lots of flour. Shape dough into log, and cut in half. Transfer halves to prepared baking sheet, with logs set parallel with short end of pan. Press dough out to 10-by-4-inch rectangles. Dimple surfaces with floured fingertips. Sprinkle each rectangle lightly with flour, then cover with floured, lint-free tea towel or oil-sprayed plastic wrap. Let rise for 2 hours.
6. About 20 minutes before rise is complete, preheat oven to 450 F.
7. Uncover dough and place in oven on center rack. Reduce oven temperature to 425 F, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until crust is golden. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for 1 hour.
8. Store bread, wrapped in aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 2 days. While this ciabatta is best the day it’s baked, it can be reheated in a 350-degree oven until it crisps up again, about 10 minutes.
Crostini di Pane (Croutons)
Cut ciabatta or other bread into 1-inch chunks. Toss with a little olive oil, salt, and dried herb of your choice — thyme is good. Spread out on baking sheet, and bake at 325 F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.
Craving more fresh Italian recipes? Check out Farmhouse Style Italian Recipes.
Karen K. Will is editor of Heirloom Gardener magazine, and co-author, along with Editor-in-Chief Oscar H. Will III, of Plowing With Pigs and Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions (New Society Publishers, 2013).