A few weeks ago I attempted to make ciabatta whilst competing in my very own “Not So British Bake Off”. It tasted good, but I wasn’t thrilled with the way it turned out. I knew I could make better bread! And if you follow me on instagram you’ll know that a few days later, I did!
(Adapted from Paul Hollywood’s recipe)
500 g strong bread flour
40 g soft butter
12 g fast-action dried yeast
2 teaspoons of salt
300 ml of tepid water
a little olive oil
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Add the yeast at one side of the bowl and add the salt at the other. Stir all the ingredients with a spoon to combine.
Add half of the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add water a little at a time, combining well, until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. You might not need all of the water– you want a dough that is well combined and soft, but not sticky or soggy. Mix with your fingers to make sure all of the ingredients are combined and use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl. Keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
Lightly grease your countertop with olive oil (as opposed to sprinkling it with flour) and turn your dough out on it. Fold the far edge of the dough into the middle of the dough, then turn the dough by 45 degrees and repeat. Do this several times until the dough is very lightly coated all over in oil.
Now knead the dough by pushing the dough out with the heel of your hand and then folding it back on itself. Then rotate your dough 90 degrees and repeat. Do this for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Then lightly oil a clean mixing bowl, put your dough inside it, cover the bowl and let the dough rise, at least double in size. (This will take at last an hour maybe longer.)
Then line a baking tray with baking paper. Take the dough out of the bowl once it has doubled in size and knock the air out of it by kneading it hard. Then gently turn and smooth the dough into a round shape and place it on your baking tray. Cover it with a tea towel and let it rise and double in size again. (Again usually at least an hour.)
Preheat your oven to 220 C (425 F) and place an empty roasting tin at the bottom of the oven, when the loaf has doubled in size. With a sharp knife, score it in a checkerboard pattern. Place the loaf in the middle of the oven and fill the roasting tin with a bit of cold water just before you close the oven door.