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Ciabatta Bread

Here’s the recipe that I tried the first time I made Ciabatta bread.


For Biga:
1/8 t. active dry yeast
2 T. warm water
1/3 C. room temperature water
1 C. flour

For Bread:
1/2 t. active dry yeast
2 T. warm milk (not boiling)
2/3 C. room temperature water
1 T. olive oil
2 C. flour
1/2 t. Italian seasoning or minced fresh rosemary (optional)
1 t. salt

Make biga: Stir together warm water and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes or until yeast dissolves. Transfer yeast mixture to  a large mixing bowl. Add room temperature water and flour. Stir for 4 minutes with a wooden spoon. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand at cool room temp at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.

Make bread: Stir together yeast and milk in small bowl. Let stand 5 minutes or until yeast dissolves. In bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook, blend together milk/yeast mixture, biga, water, oil, flour and optional seasoning (if using) at low speed until flour is moistened. Beat on medium for 3 minutes. Add salt and beat for 4 more minutes. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature until doubled or about 1 1/2 hours. Dough will be VERY sticky and full of bubbles. Cut two pieces of parchment paper large enough to line a baking sheet. Place parchment paper on baking sheets and flour well. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to the parchment paper and form irregular ovals 9 inches long. Dip fingers in flour and dimple loaves. Dust tops with flour. Cover with dampened kitchen towel and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until almost doubled. At least 45 minutes before baking bread, pre-heat pizza stone on lowest oven rack position at 425 degrees. Transfer 1 loaf, along with parchment paper, onto stone and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until they just begin to brown. Remove to cooling racks and repeat with second loaf.