Ciabatta

DSC_0062a

Great British Bake Off Episode 3 — Bread

Episode 3 was bread week.  The choices were rye bread rolls (signature), ciabatta (technical) and a filled centerpiece loaf (showstopper).  I opted for the ciabatta.  I had just made rye bread a few weeks ago, and nothing came to mind for the showstopper.  But I’ve thought about making ciabatta before so this finally gave me an excuse to give it a try.

My first attempt was an abject failure.  I tried to go old school using a recipe from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  He has two versions — one that starts with a poolish and the one that starts with a biga.  The poolish is a bit simpler so I went that route. Mr. Reinhart says the poolish should be like a thick pancake batter but mine was much firmer. Instead of trusting my instincts and starting over I plunged ahead anyway.  I’ll spare the details, but it wasn’t pretty — just a dense brick of bread without any lovely air holes.

I tried again this past weekend with much better results.  I used this recipe from Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook.  It’s made with a biga instead of a poolish, and although both the biga and the bread dough are made in the bread machine, the loaves are still formed by hand and baked in the oven.  I was a little worried because they didn’t brown or rise very much, but when I cut into the first loaf it had actual air holes and ended up tasting just fine.  The crust wasn’t very crisp, but I think I might be able to fix that by borrowing some techniques from the Reinhart book (namely increasing the baking temp and creating some steam early in the bake).  I guess I cheated a little using the bread machine to do some of the work — I definitely wouldn’t have won the technical challenge — but I was tickled with the results.

Untitled_Panorama1

We cut up the first loaf and dipped it in olive oil with herbs and garlic and some parmesan cheese, and ate the whole darn thing in one sitting.  I threw the second loaf in the freezer and we’re going to use it to make sandwiches sometime soon.

Update — Italian sub on ciabatta:

DSC_0190a

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s