Did you buy enough white flour to see you through an entire year? Now that you have it, you want to make bread that your family will love, and you want to make bread that is easy.
I have a recipe for you with no kneading involved! What??!! Nope, no kneading...
I need to be clear (for all the wonderful bread makers out there) - this is not real Ciabatta - that takes lots of time and a bit more skill - this is a bread that is somewhat similar and takes very little effort - but looks and tastes fantastic! I make it when we have visitors for lunch, and I want to impress. OK, so you can't have visitors right now - but you can impress your family! My kids love it too.
This recipe makes 4 small loaves (halve it if you are making it for two people). The loaves are best on the day of making but can be toasted or turned into bruschetta if there are leftovers.
Start this recipe the day before you want to eat it. Cook it for breakfast or lunch.
4 cups white flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast (or 1/2 cup bubbly starter*)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm-ish water
In a large bowl, mix together flour, yeast (or starter), salt, and water. Mix until you can't see bits of flour. The dough will be sticky, but not wet. Cover with a plate and leave to ferment on your kitchen bench overnight or at least 12 hours.
Preheat your oven to 200°C (Fan Bake). Liberally flour the surface of a baking tray. Working very carefully, tip the dough onto the tray. You will need to use a scraper/spatula to do this. Try to be very gentle as you want to keep all the lovely bubbles whole in the dough. Sprinkle the surface with flour.
Cut dough in half and then each piece into half again. You want to cut long loaves. Ciabatta is typically elongated, broad, and somewhat flat. Bake for about 30 minutes until the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before slicing.
Goes great with a nice piece of cheese and some homemade Caraway Kraut, (for how to make this - check out our blog post How to Make Sauerkraut).
Also delicious still warm with lots of butter and Apricot Jam!
* For a really good tips on making a starter - check out Nicola Galloway Homegrown Kitchen.
Ferment temperature: When I made this last week I found that my kitchen was a bit cooler than the last time I made it - it needed about 20 hours to rise. Find a position in your kitchen that is nice and warm - perhaps by a fire or in a sunny spot during the day, or a higher warm shelf. Ideally you want the dough to almost double in size. However if it does not seem to rise well, it will still be a nice bread but with fewer large bubbles - just find a warmer spot the next time you do it.
Make it day after day: I have successfully made this bread day after day by reserving about ½ cup of the dough prior to baking. It is generally not quite so light and fluffy but still makes a good bread. There are a few tips I’d like to share to help you do this. In this method the reserved dough is your starter.
Take the ½ cup of dough you reserved and simply repeat the recipe. Start with the dough and the warmish water and mix thoroughly in the bowl before mixing in the flour and salt.
You can make the full recipe day after day or if you want a total break, just feed your starter (dough) in a jar or bowl. Give it equal parts flour and water daily, and it will be happy. Store it in the fridge if you like and feed it once every week.
Flour: I have successfully made this with 50% wholemeal flour. However, it is best with 100% white.