Why is bread making so daunting? It really shouldn’t be. I’ve made plenty of quick breads at home like scones, biscuits and Irish brown bread without a problem. But you see, they don’t require yeast. There’s something about using yeast and letting things proof for a long time that puts me off of making those types of breads.
I’ve been following Vittorio, an Italian food vlogger, for some time and I thought I should really try one of his bread recipes. He makes bread-making look fun and easy. Vittorio’s video recipes are filmed in Italian, which is fantastic. Listening to Italian, helps me hold on to the beautiful language I spent years learning. Sometimes, when I’m driving alone in the car I talk to myself in Italian so I don’t forget the language – I describe the trees along the highway, the weather, what I did earlier in the day, what my plans are for later in the week and so on. But funny thing, put me in a room full of Italians, I’d probably just sit there, mute. I get really shy when I have to actually speak Italian with Italians or in front of other people. Same thing happens when I have to speak Korean, especially in restaurants. HAHA. I wonder why I do that!?!
Back to this fabulous ciabatta…
Breads can take hours to be oven ready. Mix ingredients, let it rise. Kneed the dough, let it rise. Cut the dough into equal parts, roll, let it rise. Ahhhh, so much rising, so much time. Good thing Vittorio offers a quick ciabatta recipe that’s ready in about 2 hours. It’s not as quick as whipping up scones in 10 minutes, but 2 hours is better than 10+ hours that is usually required for a proper ciabatta. So over the weekend, I finally gave it a go. The first one was awful, but it was completely my fault. I didn’t pay attention to the ingredients. The second one was pretty good. It doesn’t have that deep flavor that you’d get if you let the dough proof for longer, but it’s better than some breads I’ve bought in the shops and I would definitely make it again. I’d probably experiment a bit more with the temperature and bake times though as every oven is slightly different. So what worked for Vittorio didn’t necessarily work for me. Let me tell you, his ciabatta looked perfect! Grazie Vittorio!
Here is Vittorio’s recipe. You can find his video and the original recipe here.
500g all purpose flour (or 00 flour)
18g live yeast OR 6g dry active yeast
semolina or polenta
In a bowl, pour in room temperature or tepid water. Add in yeast and sugar, mix. Add in 3/4 of the flour, mix. Add in salt, mix. Add in the remaining flour, mix. Cover bowl and leave to rest for about 90 minutes at room temperature. Vittorio recommends turning on the light in the oven and placing the covered bowl inside. After 90 minutes, check to see if the dough mixture has doubled in size. If it has, you’re ready for the next step. If not, place back into the oven for a bit longer until it has. Lay out some cling film on the counter and dust generously with flour. Slide the dough mixture out of the bowl with the help of a spatula, onto the floured surface. Rub some olive oil on your hands and shape the dough into a ciabatta shape (long and rectangular). Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper and sprinkle some semolina or polenta on top. Turn over the dough onto the parchment paper (oiled side down on the polenta/semolina, floured side now facing up).
Place a pan of water on the bottom shelf in the oven. Heat oven to 410F (200C – 220C is the recommended temperature, which is 392F – 428F. I did 410F because it’s in the middle, but you should experiment with the temperature). Place your bread dough on the middle shelf and spray some water into the oven. This creates a humid environment that helps make the bread chewy. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the water and bake for another 10 – 20 minutes. Taking out the water creates a dry environment that helps make a crispy crust on the loaf. Turn off the heat and lift the ciabatta onto the rim of the baking tray so that the bottom can get crispy. Leave loaf in the oven to cool for 10-15 minutes with the door left ajar. You know the bread is done when you tap the bottom of the bread and it makes a hollow sound.
This is what the dough looked like after resting for 90 minutes.
Floured surface, ready for the dough.
Dough shaped into a ciabatta.
Baking tray lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with polenta.
Dough turned over onto the parchment paper.
Ciabatta bread. I was delighted at how it turned out. What’s wrong with the middle section you ask? When I turned it over on to the baking tray, I kind of missed. HAHA. You can’t tell too much before it went in the oven, but you can definitely see it in the final product. Oops.
I’ve included a photo of my failed first attempt. With things like bread and pastries, you can’t give up after the first go. You should keep trying because you constantly learn from your mistakes and you can correct them until you’ve perfected your technique! It was pretty embarrassing when I made the first loaf because my friend was over for lunch and I had her wait until the ciabatta was ready so she could sample some. It felt dense and heavy, smelled of yeast and dirty feet, and tasted salty – just not very good at all. The recipe called for 18g of live yeast or 6g of dried active yeast. In a rush, I dumped in 18g of dried yeast. I should’ve known then that I was doing something wrong. It was nearly 3 packets of yeast for one loaf of bread and the dough, although it doubled in size, it looked very dry. The second dough was much lighter, softer, had more bubbles and had a glossy shine to it. Can you guys see the difference in the two ciabattas?
After lunch, we popped by the farmers market and picked up some deliciously sweet tomatoes and I knew exactly what I wanted to make for dinner. I just needed a nice ciabatta bread. So as soon as we got back home, I went straight back into the kitchen and started on my second loaf. I double checked my ingredients this time, no rush! And out came a much much MUCH better ciabatta! If only I had made it this good the first time.
Dearest friend, do come back and give my ciabatta another try. I promise I won’t serve you salty dirty-feet rock hard bread! 😉 HAHA.
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