Ciabatta

Ciabatta
 
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, March/April 2009
Notes: For a recent dinner party, I thought that a loaf of fresh bread might be a nice change for the usual crackers that we serve with cheese. I recalled a CI recipe for ciabatta from a while back, and decided to try their method. As with most full-flavoured breads, this one starts with a preferment, in this case, a biga. I made this on a Friday night, then began the final dough in the afternoon on a Saturday. Using a stand mixer, working with such a wet dough wasn't an issue, and I didn't find the folding to be too difficult. I baked the dough on a baking stone and sprayed it with water, all as directed. What came out of the oven were two beautifully browned loaves, and I was excited to cut into them to see if I got the nice holes. One loaf had a huge pocket in it (exactly the problem that adding milk is supposed to solve), but both loaves did feature the large holes that are distinctive of a high hydration dough. I loved the taste of the crust and the bread itself and would highly recommend this recipe. I haven't made ciabatta before, but this may be one of those cases where it's not necessary to experiment with other recipes for what might be only a minimal gain.

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