Quesnel Farmer's Market, Quesnel BC


Ciabatta Bread

This flavorful Italian loaf begins with a biga, the Italian term for "starter dough." Make the biga a day before baking the bread.

1 cup + 1 tbsp Room-temperature water (75°F to 80°F)
1 1/4 oz pkg Dry yeast
3 1/3 cups Bread flour

Place water in processor. Sprinkle yeast over. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup flour; process until blended. Scrape down sides of work bowl. Add 1 cup flour; repeat processing and scraping. Add remaining 1 1/3 cups flour. Process until small moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball (dough will be firm); place in large bowl. Cover; chill overnight (biga will soften, resembling thick oatmeal in texture).

Biga (starter dough; see above)
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp Room-temperature water (75°F to 80°F)
Pinch Dry yeast
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp Semolina flour
2 1/2 tsp Salt
Additional semolina flour

Pull biga into walnut-size pieces; place in a clean lg bowl. Add water, yeast and 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp semolina. Using 1 hand, squeeze ingredients together 2 mins. Work dough 4 mins by scooping sections from sides of bowl and pressing into center, blending into very soft, shaggy mass. Using spatula, scrape dough from sides of bowl into center. Let dough rest in bowl, uncovered, 10 mins.

Sprinkle salt over dough. Using 1 hand, knead dough by rotating bowl 1/4 turn at a time, scooping dough from sides and folding down into center until dough starts to come away from sides of bowl, about 5 mins. Scrape dough from hand and sides of bowl. Cover bowl with towel; let dough rest 20 mins.

Rotating bowl 1/4 turn at a time, fold dough over onto itself 6 times; turn dough over in bowl. Cover with towel and let dough rest in bowl 20 mins.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Sprinkle work surface with additional semolina. Turn dough out onto semolina. Using pastry scraper or large knife, cut dough in half; keep halves separated. Let stand, uncovered, 20 minutes.

Sprinkle 2 large baking sheets with additional semolina. Transfer each dough half, semolina side up, to 1 sheet. Stretch each dough half to 16x4-inch rectangle. Press fingertips into dough in several places to dimple surface (characteristic of this bread). Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool. (Can be prepared 2 weeks ahead. Double-wrap in aluminum foil to freeze.) Makes 2 loaves.

Submitted By: Cathie Allen