1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast *
all of the biga
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk
1/4 cup water; can add up to 1/3 cup
2 tablespoons olive oil
Mix the biga ingredients, in a small bowl or in the pan of your bread machine, until well combined (program the machine for Dough, then cancel it once the ingredients are mixed, after a couple of minutes). Let the biga rest overnight, covered, or for up to 15 hours. It will expand and become bubbly.
Electric Mixer Method:
Place all of the dough ingredients into the bowl of your mixer, and beat at medium speed, using the flat beater, for 5 to 8 minutes. The dough will never completely clear the sides of the bowl, though it’ll begin to acquire some shape. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours; it will get very puffy. Midway through the rising period, gently deflate the dough and turn it over in the bowl; this will help it rise, and will also strengthen its gluten, making it easier to shape.
Your Dough Will Be Wet and Sticky. Don’t worry, this is how it’s supposed to look. No matter how unmanageable it seems at this point, take heart; it’ll gain some body as it rises, and become easier to work with. HOWEVER, if the batter is so wet that it’s easily pourable — like a thick pancake batter — add some more flour. When you ‘pour’ it out of the bowl or bread pan, it should be a soft, viscous blob, not liquid-like.
Turning the Dough: Turning the dough midway through its rising period helps redistribute the yeast’s food, expels excess carbon dioxide, and just generally helps it along.
Shaping the Dough: Transfer the dough to a well-oiled work surface. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet, and your hands. Using a bench knife or your fingers, divide the dough in half. Handling the dough gently, stretch it into a log about 10-inches long, and place it on the baking sheet. Flatten the log with your fingers till it’s about 10 inches long and 4 to 5 inches wide. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Yes, the dough is still quite sticky. But notice how much body it’s gained during its first rise. Keep oiling or wetting your fingers as you shape the dough. Push and pull it till it’s about 10 inches long and 4 to 5 inches wide.
Second Rising: Lightly cover the dough with heavily oiled plastic wrap, and allow it to rise for 1 hour; it’ll become quite puffy. Oil your fingers, and GENTLY poke deep holes all over the dough. Re-oil the plastic wrap, re-cover the dough, and allow it to rise for an additional hour. At this point, the dough will be very puffy; it should jiggle like gelatin when you VERY GENTLY shake it.
Dimpling the Ciabatta: Midway through its final rise, ‘dimple’ the ciabatta with your fingers. This will give the finished loaf its characteristic bumpy, ‘rustic’ appearance.
Baking the Ciabatta: Spray the loaves very heavily with water, and dust them lightly with flour (if desired). Bake them in a preheated 425°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Turn off the oven, remove the ciabatta from the baking sheet, and return them to the oven, propping the oven door open a couple of inches with a folded-over
potholder. Allow the ciabatta to cool completely in the oven; this will give them a very crisp crust Love Those Holes! Ciabatta’s hallmark is its large, irregular holes, ideal for trapping a drizzle of olive oil.
Bread Machine Method:
Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. Examine the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle; it should be very tacky, but should be holding its shape somewhat. Adjust the dough’s consistency with additional flour or water, as necessary. Allow the machine to complete its cycle, giving the dough an additional 30 minutes in the bucket after the cycle is completed, if desired.
Using Either Method: Midway through the rising period, gently deflate the dough and turn it over in the bowl; this will help it rise, and will also strengthen its gluten, making it easier to shape.
Note: This recipe is directly from the King Arthur Flour’s on-line baking lesson on their web site. It’s there complete with photos if you need that help. It’s my favorite Ciabatta recipe, and the flavor is out of this world.
One very important thing to remember—a note from KAF: ‘This is one dough that simply can’t be kneaded by hand; it’s just too sticky. An electric mixer, food processor, or bread machine will do the trick. During the winter you’ll need to use up to the greater amount of water in the range indicated below. In the dog days of August, when your flour’s been in a humid kitchen all summer, you’ll use the lesser amount. Your goal is a dough that’s very sticky, but holds its shape; when you scoop it out onto your work surface, it will settle a flattened mound that is best approached with oiled hands and a bench knife or bowl scraper.’
Source: King Arthur