i bake a lot, but i never really make bread. after searching the archives of the kitchn, i found a recipe for this crusty, airy peasant bread and had to try it. i was convinced i was doomed almost from the beginning, but it worked!
STEP ONE: BIGA
i think my first mistake was measuring by volume instead of weight, but my crappy kitchen scale would probably have made it worse. i think the resulting biga was a little dry and not nearly as sticky as i had imagined it would be.
STEP TWO: WAIT
i started the biga at about 5pm and uncovered it the following morning at 8. my heart sank when i saw the hard crust that had formed on top of it. my first thought was, “dammit, i knew i should have used a scale.” my second thought was, “i wonder what’s underneath that crust?” i picked it off (you can see some remnants near the top right corner of the photo) and it looked just fiiiiiine. stringy gluteny mess. perfect. to avoid the panic, though, i’d recommend covering the bowl with plastic wrap instead of a cloth towel during the overnight ferment.
STEP THREE: DOUGH UP
i followed the recipe’s recommendation and used a standing mixer. i usually use a hand mixer because the kitchenaid is SO SO HEAVY, but it’s definitely worth it to dust yours off for this dough. i was snapchatting videos to my friends during the 15 minute knead because the mixer was wobbling around the counter 🙂
ps: sorry about the hideous lighting in my kitchen.
STEP FOUR: RISE
yup, tripled. at least.
STEP FIVE: CUT
i floured the counter a little too heavily and wound up wasting about a cup of flour, but better safe than sorry i guess. this dough was SO WONDERFUL to work with, though. it was still bubbling as i poured it onto the counter, and it was velvety and airy and perfect to handle. i would make this again just to feel the dough (not creepy).
STEP SIX: RISE AGAIN
STEP SEVEN: BAKE
what a buncha beauties.
for a bread that’s supposed to be easy, it sure took up a lot of my time. i literally had the plan my morning around the rising time. i guess it was worth it though. it was a decent first try and i’m set for sammies and toast for the week. it doesn’t taste as sour or yeasty as i’d like, so eric suggested fermenting the biga a little longer. when he makes pizza (at least weekly), he ferments the dough in the fridge for 3-5 days. apparently the cold slows the fermentation process and gives it that legit pizza dough flavor, and i think that’s all this ciabatta needs. until next time!