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Authentic Italian Bread Homemade in your Very Kitchen

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November 30, 2014 / Italian / By
Nicola

Italy may be famous for its pasta and pizza dishes, but it is also home to some delightful varieties of bread. Focaccia is one of the most famous - another is ciabatta. There is nothing better than the smell of baking bread, and thankfully, both of these types of bread can be made at home.

Ciabatta is known for its thin crust and its large airholes which become apparent when you slice into it. As a result, it's a fairly light bread to eat, which makes it perfect for light snacks or starters.

To make two ciabatta loaves, you'll need an electric mixer, as well as the following ingredients:

250g strong white flour

5g salt

5g yeast - fresh is best, but if you can only get hold of dried, powdered yeast then mix it with a little warm water first

20ml olive oil

200ml water

Place all the dried ingredients, the yeast, the oil and 150ml of the water into the mixing bowl, and set the electric mixer going. It is important to use an electric mixer rather than doing it by hand because the dough will be fairly moist (when it comes to breads, 'wetter is better'!), so it's much trickier and messier to mix it by hand. Please note that your mixer should be fitted with a dough hook for this recipe!

For the next few minutes add the rest of the water, a little at a time. The mixture should be wet but not runny. After around 10 minutes in total the dough should start to look and feel very stretchy and elastic, at which point you can turn the mixer off.

Prepare a square or rectangular dish by lightly brushing the sides and base with oil. This will help the dough from sticking, but without drying the dough out in the process. Place the dough into this oiled container, cover it with cling film or a tea towel and leave it to rise in a warm place. Leave it for an hour or two, until the dough has no less than doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 220ºC (425ºF or Gas Mark 7).

When the dough has risen significantly, carefully tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. In contrast with other more common types of bread, you must handle it very carefully - don't knock it back. If you do handle it too roughly you will knock air out of the dough, and it won't have the large air holes that it is so famous for. The dough will be very wet so handling the dough at this time is a delicate process!

Very carefully, and while trying to maintain a rectangular shape, divide the dough in two, to make two separate loaves. Place them on a lined baking tray and stretch them slightly until they are in a perfect long ciabatta loaf shape.

Allow the loaves to rest for around half an hour before putting them in the oven. Bake them for 25 minutes - the key to knowing when bread is cook properly is when it sounds hollow if you tap it underneath. When it's ready, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Ciabatta can be enjoyed in a whole number of ways. It is delicious served very simply with a drizzle of light oil and balsamic vinegar, or you can use it to make sturdy sandwiches. This type of bread is fantastic to try if you want to make a light meal of bruschetta!


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Nice article
Jay
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