Bread is my jam. I love making it. Its the type of baking that is always productive. When I make bread I am providing a key piece of sustenance to my family…at least in my carb obsessed house. Seriously, even my cat loves bread! The smell of baking bread is incredible. It can be a breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, anything! And you usually don’t get quite the same stink eye from the dieters when you show up with bread compared to when you show up with a giant cake. Despite my love of baking bread, I will be the first to admit it can go horribly wrong! I’m sure most of my loaves wouldn’t pass the Paul Hollywood poke test. And making bread is a long sometimes boring process. For those reasons and more it is oh so satisfying when you manage to create something halfway edible. And even better when the thing you make looks pretty close to the picture in the recipe book. That is baking nirvana.
Ciabatta day kind of snuck up on me. We needed buns for dinner and the sad freezer burnt hot dog buns weren’t going to cut it. Since I am basically female Canadian Paul Hollywood I busted out my trusty dough hook and got to work. The recipe seemed pretty straightforward. In fact, it seemed very close Paul’s classic cob, which I have basically mastered. except for one very big difference. There was so much water! An extra 100ml. The dough started out like any other bread, shaggy.
This is when I should have started adding my water, but instead I got distracted and the shag came together. I then had to try to incorporate the water into an already formed dough. Not an easy thing to do. Things started out pretty swampy.
But my mixer was putting up a good fight. About 3 minutes later things were looking up.
Nothing like a bread dough that looks like some kind of Oliver Twist gruel. Yum! I couldn’t imagine attempting this while kneading my hand. I would have had a countertop gluten slip and slide. I can’t say enough about my mixer because she didn’t give up (I just decided she is a woman….next up a name) and eventually she produced a bonafide bread dough.
The dough was super sticky and I felt like I was coaxing a big blob of Gak into my container. Usually, I use Nancy’s trick of resting the dough inside an oven with the light on but this time I just left it out for all the world (aka my cats) to see. I waited an hour and a half and was greeted with lots of little air bubbles.
Turning the dough out reconfirmed that I had just made Gak out of flour. But to be honest I loved Gak and I love those Instagram slime videos so I was in my element. I tried to maintain as many air bubbles as possible. Forming my loaves consisted of diving the dough in four, transferring it to a baking sheet and liberally covering them in flour. They looked like slippers to me (ciabatta means slipper in Italian).
The second rise was nice and short, just 30 minutes. The loaves didn’t seem to puff much after the thirty minutes but they also didn’t deflate at all so I took it as a win. I like that this recipe doesn’t call for any kind of steam in the oven since I have sustained many burns from chucking ice cubes in hot baking pans. Just straight baking. After just over 25 minutes I had these beauties.
No longer Gak and definitely a slipper I would be proud to wear. The real test came when it was time to cut them open. And I think I passed with flying colours. In fact, I’d say I nailed it. I have big air holes and nice chewy crust. We ate them all that night (we did have some help) and the next morning I got up and made them all over again! The second batch was even better than the first since I added the water at the right time and let it rise even longer. This will be my new go-to bread recipe and a best seller in my imaginary bakery. Watch your back, I’m coming for you, Paul!