Homemade Ciabatta Bread. Quick and easy, this no-knead bread is baked in two free-form loaves, called ciabatta in Italian because of the resemblance to a slipper. If you like bread with a soft and airy crumb and a crusty top, then this bread is for you.
Song of the day: Never Really Over - Katy Perry
A meal without bread is unheard of, for an Italian family. It is part of the spread on the table. And in our family, for lunch and dinner, bread always graces our table, freshly bought, or freshly made. Our preference goes to rustic crusty bread, with not a lot of crumb, soft on the inside and crusty on the outside. Just like ciabatta bread.
Going to the baker's (forno) to buy fresh bread is part of the daily activities. Italians just love bakeries and all the wonderful baked goods you can get there. From many different kinds of bread to biscuits, cookies, pizza, cakes, loaves, it is an amazingly sensory and visual experience that I highly recommend.
Since all the different types of bread we find at bakeries can satisfy everyone and are of amazing quality, making homemade bread is something that had just faded away, a memory of older times. These days, with the importance of staying home as much as possible, making bread has become the new normal and families are enjoying this activity.
How to make the bread dough
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and sugar.
- Stir with a fork and gradually add the water at room temperature. Finally, add the salt. Stir until you obtain a soft dough.
- Then, sprinkle some flour on the surface. Cover with cling film or a towel and let rise in a warm place (I put the covered bowl in the oven, turned off and with the light on) for about 2-3 hours or until tripled in size.
- After the resting time, the dough is well risen, very soft and has a crackled top.
- Turn the dough upside down on a floured work surface.
- Dust your hands with flour and fold the two sides over without overlapping.
- Turn the dough 90° and fold the other two sides.
- Turn the dough upside down, with the folds down and the smooth surface facing up. Facing the short side, flour a long knife and cut the dough in two.
- Separate the two parts and with floured hands, shape the loaves.
- Dust your hands with flour, lift the loaves and arrange each loaf -well spaced apart- on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or a non-stick one like mine) lightly dusted with flour. Always with floured hands, re-shape the loaves if you see they have lost their shape, and sprinkle the surface with more flour.
- At this point, leave your loaves to rise for the second and last time, for about 1-1.5 hour, until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 230°C (445°F) and when it reaches the temperature, place the baking sheet on the lower shelf. Cook for about 12 minutes.
- After that, paying attention to the hot oven, move the baking sheet to the middle shelf and cook the loaves for 10-12 more minutes.
- Lastly, if you want a nice golden and crunchy crust, turn on the grill for the last 2-3 minutes, checking it constantly.
- Take out of the oven and let cool 5 minutes before slicing.
The house smells like a bakery
Not only the whole house will smell like a bakery, but also your family will compliment you on your skills and if they are like my family, they would want to cut into that focaccia bread right away. It is too hot, though, and it is best to wait to cut into it because it will just break.
By all means, let it cool slightly, 5 minutes or so, and then, slice it and taste it. My favorite way is to reach for the hazelnut chocolate spread and slather it on the freshly made bread. You go for butter, oil, or taste it plain. The flavor of this bread is so mild and delicate that it marries well with sweet and savory pairings.
When you cut your ciabatta bread, you will love to hear the sound of the crust when the knife goes through it and crumbs fall everywhere. Then, you will be amazed at how beautiful the crumb is, soft, airy, with little holes that will make you want to give yourself a pat on the back.
Good job, everyone, for staying at home, trying new and fun activities to do with the family and as a family. Making bread is possibly one of the most rewarding. Enjoy!
Song of the day: Never Really Over - Katy PerryPrint