Aug 152011
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Here’s the recipe that I tried the first time I made Ciabatta bread.

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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.

Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

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