Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ciabatta bread

People tend to fear the thought of baking bread themselves. There is a misconception that making dough is an arduous task which is just not true, especially if you own a bread maker!

I inherited my bread maker from my mother. I remember eating fresh bread out of the machine as a child. It was warm and fresh, but the shape of each slice was much larger than that of loafed bread from the store and if you used it on a sandwich it was like you had asked to get your sandwich Super Sized.

When my mother gave me her bread maker I was anxious to make fresh bread right away. I was looking through the recipe book and I noticed that all the breads that were made in the actual bread maker required powdered milk (This still baffles me. I've never used powdered milk for anything, and I bake quite often). French bread was the only recipe that did not need it, so I decided to make it. As I was reading through the recipe I noticed it was not baked in the bread maker, but in the oven. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the bread maker, you may ask? Well, the bread maker also has a setting to make/knead dough (Who knew?). For the french bread I placed all the incredients in the bread maker and two hours later the dough was made. (Not sure why it takes so long to mix flour and water?). The dough is then put in the oven and baked fresh. It was so, so good. Similar to the french bread that I get from my favorite place, H-E-B (Texas grocery store).

I decided to try a different bread instead of french bread and fell upon ciabatta bread. This bread is amazing! And, when I make it for guests or take it to someone's house, people are always impressed that I made bread from scratch. My best kept secret is just how simple it is to make!

Click here for the original recipe.

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 1/4 cup BREAD flour (Make sure you use bread flour and not all purpose flour, it tastes much better)
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast (keep jar in the freezer for freshness)

1. Place all ingredients into the pan of the bread machine. Select Dough Cycle and start.

2. Dough will be quite sticky and wet once completed.Don't add more flour!

3. Take out a baking pan and spray with PAM cooking spray. Place dough on pan and shape into a loaf. Take saran wrap. Spray the saran wrap with PAM and place the PAM side on the bread and cover pan completely. Place in a draft free place for approximately 45 minutes. (I always place in the pantry and try to remember to close the door)

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

5. Take saran wrap off and place pan in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

6. Indulge when warm!

Amateur cooking difficulty scale: 1
This recipe is so, so easy. Again, don't be scared to work with dough. You really aren't working with it at all, simply transferring it from the machine to a pan. And, you can impress everyone with your baking abilities!

I make this regularly, safe to say I will make it again.

Because there are no preservatives in this bread, it won't last too long. After 24 hours place in the fridge. I hate throwing away food, so when it gets old I like to spread margarine on both sides and place it in a nonstick pan (sprayed with PAM!) and cook on both sides on medium to medium high until margarine has melted. It tastes great along with dinner or in a sandwich!

Are you now less intimidated about making bread?

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