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Saturday, July 21, 2007

ciabatta olive bread

ciabatta olive bread easy artisan bread recipe
The smell of fresh warm bread, just finishing baking, especially in the lazy weekends, feels like heaven, doesn't it?

I love artisan breads - the ones where all ingredients are recognizable - like flour, water, maybe yeast, some milk, herbs, nuts perhaps...(no added chemicals), and usually not mass produced, where flavor comes from "proper control of the fermentation and the action of natural bacteria leading to anything from a light delicate flavor to a deep, strong, rustic flavor".
Artisan bread is best described by thinking about the person who makes the bread. An artisan baker is a craftsperson who is trained to the highest ability to mix, ferment, shape and bake a hand crafted loaf of bread. They understand the science behind the chemical reactions of the ingredients and know how to provide the best environment for the bread to develop.
-- from http://www.artisanbakers.com/


ciabatta olive bread easy artisan bread recipeJust like it takes years of practice to be a successful carpenter or jeweler, it takes a lot of practice to bake good artisan breads.

But, I was curious about trying a good hearty artisan bread recipe so, I borrowed my mum-in-law's book, Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer, to try out this ciabatta recipe which brings out the rustic and hearty flavors of artisan breads.

The recipe in the book, of course, is plain and simple, but, following my mum-in-law's suggestion, I added some kalamata olives and it turned out to be a superb ciabatta olive bread, if I may say so myself :-)

The catch of course is that one cannot rush these things. So, the total time it took from getting the Biga ready and baking the bread was about 31 hours. Yep, you read it right, 31 hours! Most of which is waiting, folding, rising... not a lot of work, really.

So, sort of like sourdough breads, we start with what is called Biga, except, we use yeast to help out (whereas sourdough grabs the natural yeast from the environment): activate the yeast in warm water, then mix a specified amount of it with some flour, stir well, and leave it overnight or up to 12 hours.

Then, add the measured amounts of flour, water etc. (listed below) and make a sticky, runny dough. Knead well, let it sit. Every 20 mins or so, for the first hour, take it out and fold it and put it back in the oiled bowl. Then, let it rise, and every hour or so, take it out fold it and put it back. And so on... this develops lots of air pockets (try not to punch the dough down) which when baked gives the nice holes and texture.

Bake in a really hot oven (400°F), on a pizza stone for about 20-30 mins till outside is really brown and crusty, while inside is moist, chewy and cooked through.

Biga: ¼tsp yeast in 1 cup warm water, activate first; then, take ½ tsp of this yeast+water mixture (throw out the rest), mix it with about ½ cup flour, cover and leave in a warm place overnight.

Bread: 1 Tbsp gluten flour, 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour, 1 cup all-purpose four, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 2¼ tsp salt, 1½ cup water, chopped kalamata olives (optional, say about a cup chopped) plus the Biga from above.

When all the rising, folding, rising is done, divide the dough roughly into two portions and shape into flat-ish, rectangular loaves.

Overall, this was a fun bread to bake. I have made it twice since and it came out quite fine. But, am not sure I will be making this every day... I'd rather leave it to the masters.

Not too far from where I live there is a Grand Central Bakery store, and not too far from my work, there is a Great Harvest Breads store as well, so, I feel spoilt:-)

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1 Comments:

  • At 7:16 AM, Blogger Priyanka said…

    I have never baked anything in life except handvo and veg. augratine. i will give this recipe a try...

     

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