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Monday, March 21, 2011

An Honest Loaf

Yes, I did actually make Italian ciabatta bread, from scratch! It was an interesting process, as I thought that the day I started the bread, I'd actually be eating it....BUT NO. First, one has to make the "sponge" which is kind of a misnomer in that it is simply a mixture of yeast, sugar, water, and flour (like a sourdough starter, for instance), and you have to let it sit overnight to boot! Here is the "sponge" after mixing, and getting ready to spend the night on my counter - covered with a clean dish cloth...



Now it is the second day, and like all good Pixie-cooks, I've got my ingredients ready to go for the bread...



The "sponge" gets mixed in with some flour and butter in the mixer....


As well as some more yeasty beasties....which have been blooming in some warm milk and sugar.....


Then, the fun actually begins. Mix all until it comes together as a dough...like so....


And, when making doughs, and the recipe says to mix until something has come together and is leaving the sides of the bowl clean.....this is what it looks like....



Then, into an oiled bowl for a first hour-and-a-half long rise....


I covered with the clean kitchen towel, and left in a warm, draft-free place while I went on about my day.  Then, you shape them into the standard "slipper" shape (ciabatta means slipper, in Italian), and let them rise again...for about another hour or so.....



At this point, I was thrilled! It was finally getting to look like bread!  Then, into a very hot oven, on a (seriously splooged on) pizza stone for the baking time.....


They were so lovely and large at that point, I could only bake one at a time! Then, the moment I had been waiting and working for.....let there be bread!


Another close up of these beauties.....


And of course, the shot I enjoyed the most.....the slice, warm from the oven, touched with a pat of butter, and ready for yours truly to devour....


The sweet, chewy crust was amazing! What real bread should taste like, everyday. The interior was soft, but not too soft, and made it a perfect bread for soups, sandwiches, bruschetta, and many other uses. When the last of the two loaves got a little stale, I cubed it and placed it into a zip bag, and later blitzed it up in the food processor with herbs & Parmesan and voila! Italian bread crumbs!

What dish takes you more than one day to create? Is it a family tradition? Is it worth the taste and satisfaction you get from making it?

This bread was so amazing, I have zero problems, from this point on, making the sponge while I am preparing supper, and baking the loaves the next day! Eat well, my friends, and stay tuned this week for THE ATTACK OF THE RUBBER CHICKEN!! And, we'll touch base with Kitchen Angel, and see how she is enjoying Spring! Love and kindness to all,

                                                                        Pixie

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