Ciabatta bread made easy

 

Baking-the final 15 minutes!

There is nothing like a really good piece of home-made bread and I promise you I know good bread!  You are reading the writings of a true wheat farmer’s daughter!  My dad raised wheat and hand-milled the grain for our household use.   My mom would find all sorts of ways to use the grains, but my favorites were her whole wheat cinnamon rolls and her bread!  Remember, this was a long time ago–we didn’t have a mixer in the house, so everything was hand-kneaded and a labor of love!  Oh, how our house smelled–my mouth is watering (and so are my eyes) just thinking about our old farm, my parents, and those wonderful aromas.  I was (am) a very, very lucky girl!

The pizza oven has sort of forced my hand at baking and I am sooo happy about that change!  My crusts are really looking good and my confidence with baking is shooting to the moon.  In fact, Andy has recently been requesting that I start baking bread.  I had been pushing back knowing the type of effort that goes into even one loaf, but I remained open-minded enough to start doing  research into no-knead breads.  They sounded so simple, and the online pictures and testimonials were compelling, to say the least.  Last week I finally took the plunge and gave it a try.  My first attempt kind of flopped, but by then I was determined to make a success of it, so I did!  This is the ciabatta recipe that I have made 4 times now–and it gets better every time!  The thing about bread is that it is made from just a few simple ingredients:  flour, salt, water, and yeast (I have added red wine vinegar to this recipe so it can be made all in one day!) so why does homemade bread taste so much better??  Take a quick peek at the ingredient label on your bread packaging.   Maybe it has something to do with all of the ‘other’ stuff they throw into the mix when trying to keep bread from molding on the grocery store shelf.  I can promise you our bread doesn’t sit around long enough for it to turn green–and yours won’t either!!  So give this recipe a try!  If you hate it I will buy your next grocery store loaf (just kidding–I am BROKE!), but I know you won’t!

Bread made easy

Makes 1 loaf

  • 4 cups flour:  3  all purpose (or bread), 1 whole wheat
  • 2 cups very warm water (not HOT, just warm to the skin)
  • 1/2 t instant dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t red wine vinegar

Put all of your dry ingredients in a big stainless steel bowl.  Use your fingers to mix it together well.  In your big measuring cup add the wet ingredients.  Add the water mixture to the flour stirring with your fingers until it is all mixed together–less than a minute.  Don’t worry if there is some flour on the edges of the bowl or a few lumps in the dough–it doesn’t have to be perfect!  Cover the bowl and let sit undisturbed for 3 or 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  When the oven is hot, place your dutch oven in for a few minutes to preheat the pan.

Dump the dough onto your generously floured countertop.  Take each side (left, right, top, bottom) of the dough and fold it in once–almost like you are wrapping a gift–so there will be one long seam on the top.  Carefully remove the dutch oven from the oven and generously spray with PAM cooking spray.  Place the bread seam side down into the dutch oven and add the lid.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan and let cool down a little.  Slice and serve warm!!

So far I have made the following adjustments to vary the flavor:  1.  Freshly chopped rosemary (about 1/4 c) and freshly ground black pepper (about 1 T) to the dry ingredients and sprinkle ground pepper over the top and sides before baking 2.  Chipotle pepper flakes (about 1 T) to the dry ingredients  — both have turned out beautifully~

I have several others (including sweeter, fruit breads) that I am hoping to try in the next couple of weeks.  I will let you know how they turn out!

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