Ciabata bread starter
is good fit
DEAR MELBA: Connie Firth asked for a recipe for making bread using a starter. This is a good recipe for Ciabatta bread starter that is made the night before.
Ciabatta bread is typically identified by its shape, which is that of a flattened slipper, thus the meaning of the word slipper is “ciabatta” in Italian.
The bread has a high liquid content that makes the dough difficult to manage, but this is necessary to achieve the correct results. Ciabatta bread is as common in Italian supermarkets as white sandwich bread is in the United States.
Since Connie already has her starter, she can skip those directions, but let’s share the starter recipe, because some folks will need it.
CIABATTA BREAD STARTER
1/4 ounce fresh yeast
1/4 cup warm water (95 to 115 degrees)
3 cups flour
Water, approximately 3/4 cup
•Cream yeast and warm water. Set aside 7 to 8 minutes.
•Measure flour into large mixing bowl. Form a well in the center. Pour yeast mixture into the well. Push flour into the well, adding enough water to create dough that is firm, but not too dry.
•Transfer dough onto floured work surface. Knead several minutes to form a firm elastic ball of dough. Place in a bowl. Oil plastic wrap and cover bowl. Allow to rest in warm location 12 to 16 hours. This is the starter dough. After it has been allowed to rest for the required time, it will rise, then begin collapsing, indicating it is ready to use for making bread.
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 ounce fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup warm milk
41/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup olive oil
•In medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water and yeast. Blend until creamy. Stir in 1 cup warm water. Stir in warm milk. Pour this mixture into the starter and blend with a large wooden spoon.
•Gradually add flour, first mixing with wooden spoon, then mixing with your hands as the mixture becomes thicker. The dough will be loose and wet. When all the flour is incorporated, knead the dough in the bowl for about 12 to 15 minutes. The dough will be too difficult to knead on a flat work surface. (However, Connie said she has a bread hook and can probably use it for kneading the dough.)
•Add salt and olive oil, working it into the dough. When well mixed, cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap and proof it until the dough has doubled in size. Two hours is usually sufficient for this. After the dough has risen, do not punch it down.
•Using a wooden spoon, gently divide dough in half and place each half on well-floured baking sheets. Shape dough into long, low ovals and gently flatten so it is about an inch thick. Do not use excessive force for flattening. Sprinkle dough with flour and allow to proof for 30 minutes.
•Bake in preheated 425-degree oven for 25 minutes. The bread should be golden. Test for doneness by listening for a hollow sound when tapping on the bottom of the bread. Cool loaves on wire rack to prevent bottoms from becoming soggy.
— Caroline Medlinger, Edmond
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