A drizzly, grisly Sunday at the start of summer. Ran the Med-City Marathon Relay this morning and got soaked to the bone. Izzy and I have a mirroring thing going on, methinks. Feeling a little droopy and cheek saggy today.
Adapted from The Village Baker
Lievito natural sponge
1 cup warm water
1 scant tsp yeast
4 cups flour
Knead this all together and although it will seem quite dry, try to add as much of the flour as possible.
2 packages yeast (2 cups of sourdough starter)
2 cups warm water
1 tbsp powdered milk
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp salt
3 cups lievito natural
Dilute the powdered milk in the water in a large bowl. Mix the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Add small bits of the sponge to the water, and add only small handfuls of flour. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon—for like 15 minutes! This will seem like the wettest dough ever, don’t worry. Add the yeast and stir like 100 more times. The dough will seem like taffy. The dough will seem super wet. Cover and let rise for 1 hour, until it appears blistered and satiny. You can spread the dough out and cut it into four separate squarish pieces. I made two separate loaves. Or you can save the dough and make grissini.
Cover the loaves and let rise for 30 more minutes on parchment paper.
Before baking, perform the “schiacciare maneuver” (flatten each loaf with the flat parts of your fingers, not the fingertips). Flip the loaves over, cover them and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven and baking stone to 425 degrees. Spray the inside of the oven with an atomizer and/or add a tray of boiling water to a lower rack to make the oven environment humid. Bake the loaves for between 25 and 30 minutes until they are golden brown.
This picture was taken three days ago, when I was not feeling droopy. Oh, ciabatta, ciabatta—this is my favorite bread, of all genres of bread, but this not my favorite recipe. For my best ever Ciabatta, go here. This one comes from an Italian baker from the Lake Como region, and uses a little bit of powdered milk to soften the crumb. Also, the lievito natural is an Italian version of the sponge method—which takes much longer to rise than say the French sponges. The humidity factor during the bake is key. But like I said, see the other recipe—this was okay, but not as crispy a crust as I prefer.