This is the second bread that I baked for the first time this month and I think it turned out quite well. The theme for the Fresh From The Oven challenge this month is ciabatta, something that I buy occasionally but have never attempted to make before. I used the recipe from ‘Bread’ by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter which made 3 loaves and used a biga starter. Unlike a starter for a sourdough loaf which is typically just flour and water and takes several days to be ready for use, a biga starter includes yeast and is ready to use within 15 hours. Incidentally one of my goals at the beginning of the year was to have a go at sourdough, I had mixed results back in January but then my starter got neglected. I’m going to try again before the year is over.

Back to the ciabatta, the recipe called for fresh yeast but all I had to hand was sachets of fast action yeast but these still did the job. I made the biga starter dough using a 7g sachet of yeast, 350g plain flour and around 175ml water, kneaded it until smooth and then left it in a very large bowl, covered with clingfilm to rise for 15 hours. The next day, as there was no salt to retard the yeast, the dough rose to fill the bowl and began collapsing back on itself, which is exactly what it was supposed to do . The next stage was to make the dough for the ciabatta loaves, this was made with another 7g sachet of yeast, 400ml lukewarm water, 60ml lukewarm milk, 500g strong white bread flour, 2 tsp salt and 3 tbsp olive oil. The method for making the dough is very different from making a standard loaf. First of all the yeast was mixed with a few spoonfuls of the water and added to the biga starter followed by the rest of the water and then the milk and which was beaten together with a wooden spoon. It looked like a very wet, sloppy mess in the bowl. Next I used my hand to mix the dough whilst gradually pouring in the flour. The aim was to try and achieve a lifting motion as the flour was worked into the dough, I had very messy hands by the time I finished. Finally to the very wet dough I beat in the salt and olive oil then covered and left to rise for 90min – 2 hours until doubled in size. When the dough was ready, I sprinkled 3 baking trays with flour and then used a spoon, to carefully tip a third of the dough onto each tray, trying not to knock any air out of the dough. Then shaped the loaves into rough oblong shapes using well floured hands, this is the bit I found a bit tricky, but the aim was to get 3 loaves around 2.5cm thick. The loaves were sprinkled with flour and then left to rise again for 30 minutes before baking at 220C for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

This is my entry into Fresh From The Oven hosted by Michelle.

  • Camilla @FabFood4All
    May 28, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Wow that looks splendid Jen, just like one from the shops but bigger and better!

    • Jen Price
      May 29, 2013 at 10:36 am

      I wasn’t sure if I got the shape right as ciabatta from the supermarket always looks more like a loaf, then again who knows what else in there to get it to hold it’s shape.

  • belleau kitchen
    May 29, 2013 at 5:44 am

    Well they look like a success. I’ve seen so many ciabatta recipes now that I’m so confused. The one I use is similar to yours in that it involves a lot if sloppy dough and some slap and stretch technique but it is parculiar that there’s not one ultimate method.

    • Jen Price
      May 29, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Thanks Dom, this is the only recipe I’ve read so far so I don’t know how common the biga starter stage is. Working with the dough is certainly more interesting than kneading on a worktop, lots of squelching around in a bowl!

  • Angela Darroch
    May 29, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Wow – that is a lot of work but they do look good and probably so much better for you than the shop bought ones.

    • Jen Price
      May 29, 2013 at 10:40 am

      Sounds like a lot of work but actually not too difficult, just need to be able to plan in advance a bit. I think the hardest part was getting the sticky dough off my fingers afterwards!

  • underthebluegumtree
    May 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    The crumb on those loaves looks brilliant. What a triumph!

  • Caroline
    June 1, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    They look really good – were you pleased with them?

    • Jen Price
      June 1, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Yes I think they turned out quite, perhaps a little on the flat side but they tasted good which is the main thing.

  • Michelle Utterlyscrummy Rice
    June 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Those loaves look stunning! Nothing like freshly made, delicious bread. Thank you so much for taking part in Fresh From the Oven 🙂