There’s nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread wafting throughout the house. It’s a quintessential homey smell only surpassed by pie, maybe. This is an easy recipe because the stand mixer does all the kneading for you and it’s only a handful of ingredients – no eggs and no fat, just bread flour, salt, yeast and water. If you were ever going to give bread making a try, this is the recipe for you!
Prepare the stand alone electric mixer with the dough hook. The dough hook will slowly mix the dough and help develop the proteins that will produce an elastic dough. Add the bread flour, salt and fast acting yeast to the bowl. Make sure to add the salt on one side and the yeast on the other. The salt retards the growth of the yeast so keep them apart until you begin to mix the dough.
Add 3/4 of the water and slowly being to mix the dough. You’ll see a sloppy dough begin to form in the center while the flour around the bowl has not combined. Slowly add the remaining water and combine. Then increase the speed to medium and let the mixer knead the dough for 8 minutes. The wet dough will slap around some, it will become sticky and eventually an elastic lump.
See how elastic the dough is? This is what you want. Grease a 3-litre square container (about 8X8) with olive oil and with your greased hand, tip and drop the dough into the container.
Close the container and allow the dough to proof or rise for 3-4 hours until the dough rises to the top. You’ll see all the air bubbles develop in the dough and that’s what you’re looking for. Flour your work surface with a combination of bread flour and semolina flour. If you don’t have semolina, just use bread flour. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper and flour them as you would the work surface. Set aside.
Gently tip the dough onto the floured work surface so you maintain the square shape of the proofing container. Flour the top with both bread flour and semolina flour. Flouring the top will absorb the oil from the container. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into four even strips. Tip each strip on its side so the cut marks face up. Use the bench scraper to pick up and place two dough strips on each prepared baking sheet.
Note: The dough is very sticky and almost like a Slinky – remember those? The flour helps you cut and move the dough to the baking sheet.
Cover each baking sheet with a tea towel and allow to rest an additional 30-45 minutes. Bake in a 425°F preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 5-10 minutes before handling.
Note: I placed all four on a baking sheet to proof due to counter space, but I baked them two per baking sheet. Remember to position the oven racks to accommodate baking on two racks before you preheat the oven.
These breads are perfect for breakfast with creamy butter, sandwiches, bruschettas, paninis, croutons and just about anything. Ciabatta is known for it’s light, soft and airy inside with a crunchy, crispy crust. This is one of my favorite breads.
I love The Great British Baking Show. This recipe is as instructed by Paul Hollywood in The Great British Baking Show Masterclass, S1 E2. Paul Hollywood is a renown professional baker and celebrity chef. Just remember Paul’s advice to the bakers, “Be patient”.
Classic Ciabatta Bread
A classic ciabatta bread that is light and airy with an old world crust. Perfect vehicle for bruschettas and Italian sandwiches. Lots of nooks and crannies for butter and delicious to eat on its own at breakfast or as croutons in soups and salads. Freezes well too!
- 4 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting 500g strong white bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt 10g salt
- 1 Tablespoon fast acting yeast 10g fast acting yeast
- 2 cups minus 1 Tablespoon & 1 teaspoon of room temperature water 440ml tepid water
- olive oil to coat the proofing container
- semolina flour for dusting
Set up the electric standalone mixer with the dough hook attachment.
Add white bread flour, salt and fast acting yeast into the mixing bowl. Place the salt on the opposite side of the yeast as the salt retards the growth of the yeast. Add 3/4 of the water and start to mix on low. The dough will begin to come together in the center, but some flour will remain on the sides. Slowly add the remaining water as you continue to mix. Then increase to medium speed and mix for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and stretchy. During this time, the dough will be wet and sticky and slap around the bowl until it comes together as a very elastic dough.
Lightly coat the 3-litre square container with extra virgin olive oil. With oiled hands, remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place in the greased container. Cover with lid or a tea towel and allow the dough to proof for 3-4 hours or until the dough has risen to the top of the container.
Line two baking trays with parchment paper and dust with bread flour and semolina flour. Set aside.
Dust your work surface with bread flour and semolina flour. Gently tip the container onto the floured board. The goal is for the dough to retain all the air bubbles and square shape. Dust the top of the dough with bread flour and semolina flour. This will help absorb the oil and make it easier to work with the dough..
Using a bench scraper, cut the dough in half lengthwise and divide each half into two strips. Tip each strip on its side and gently lift up and stretch as you place it on the flour dusted baking tray, cut side up. Place two loaves per baking tray.
Note: The top cut marks are characteristic of ciabatta bread.
Cover with a tea towel and allow to proof an additional 30-45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425°F and position the baking racks for the two baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.
This recipe is as instructed by Paul Hollywood in The Great British Baking Show Masterclass, S1 E2. Paul Hollywood is a renown professional baker and celebrity chef.
- Be patient.
- Don’t place the salt and yeast together in the bowl, as the salt will retard the yeast.
- Don’t use warm water as it forces proofing. The longer the dough proofs, the more flavor your bread will develop.
- Use a dough hook for a nice and slow mix. A paddle attachment will smash the protein to pieces.