When I first received my KitchenAid, all I could think about (besides how easy baking all of those Christmas cookies would become) was baking bread. Lots and lots of yeast breads. I have tried hand kneading, and I just lack the patience and discipline to knead sticky dough for 10 minutes. But with an appliance, oh yes! In the year that I have had the appliance, I have mastered the crusty french loaf (see previous post, Perfect Bread for Soup) as well as Gabe’s favorite whole wheat sandwich bread. I have discovered that baking yeast breads is a delicate balance of wet to dry ingredients there is no room to “wing” it, but once it all comes together it really is a forgiving substance. Which is just about perfect for me, since I hate to wing it in the kitchen and my technique still isn’t as good as those guys on America’s Test Kitchen.
Today I’m making ciabatta bread, with a recipe from ATK. I like their bread recipes, they are easy to follow and the cookbook is full of great instructional photographs. This recipe is long, but so worth it in the end. This is my dough after it came out of the mixing bowl. It’s still rising on the countertop.
- 1cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
- 1/8teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1/2cup water (4 ounces), at room temperature
- 2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
- 1/2teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 1/2teaspoons table salt
- 3/4cup water (6 ounces), at room temperature
- 1/4cup milk (2 ounces), at room temperature (see note)
- 1. FOR THE BIGA: Combine flour, yeast, and water in medium bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours).
- 2. FOR THE DOUGH: Place biga and dough ingredients in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed until roughly combined and shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute; scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Continue mixing on medium-low speed until dough becomes uniform mass that collects on paddle and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 6 minutes. Change to dough hook and knead bread on medium speed until smooth and shiny (dough will be very sticky), about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- 3. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough six more times (total of eight turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes longer. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.
- 4. Cut two 12- by 6-inch pieces of parchment paper and liberally dust with flour. Transfer dough to liberally floured counter, being careful not to deflate completely. Following photos 6 through 9 above, liberally flour top of dough and divide in half. Turn 1 piece of dough so cut side is facing up and dust with flour. With well-floured hands, press dough into rough 12- by 6-inch shape. Fold shorter sides of dough toward center, overlapping them like business letter to form 7- by 4-inch loaf. Repeat with second dough piece. Gently transfer each loaf seam-side down to parchment sheets, dust with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let loaves sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (surfaces of loaves will develop small bubbles).
- 5. Slide parchment with loaves onto inverted, rimmed baking sheet or pizza peel. Using floured fingertips, evenly poke entire surface of each loaf to form 10- by 6-inch rectangle; spray loaves lightly with water. Carefully slide parchment with loaves onto baking stone using jerking motion. Bake, spraying loaves with water twice more during first 5 minutes of baking time, until crust is deep golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into centers of loaves registers 210 degrees, 22 to 27 minutes. Transfer to wire rack, discard parchment, and cool loaves to room temperature, about 1 hour, before slicing and serving.
~ Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.