Category Archives: The Bread Bible

Ciabatta

Ciabatta

With our new panini press, I thought a nice Italian bread would work so I tried the Ciabatta from The Bread Bible. Ciabatta is a very wet dough and as the paddle was whirring in my stand mixer I wondered if this gloopy thin dough would turn into bread. The dough is supposed to triple within 2 hours and it took me almost 3 for mine to triple. My place is cold and I thought a mug full of boiling water would help. I’m sure it would have taken 6 hours if I didn’t have the hot water.

I used wet hands to work with the dough so the it wouldn’t cling to me. Inverting it was a bit tricky as it’s a very soft dough but I managed to throw it down on my Silpat. You’re supposed to push the sides together so it’s at a width of 4.5 inches. I’d try to push it into place and then later during the rising it would spread. I think it’s probably from working with wet hands and a slick surface. I think it might hold it’s shape if it was on a different surface. When I went to check to see if it was done, there was a nice shatter of crust when I stuck my digital thermometer in.

Mine came out 1/2 an inch flatter as it’d spread when I tried to push the sides of the dough up. Through some Googling it seems this ciabatta is big favourite of many people. It’s got a nice crispy and chewy crust and the crumb is very light. We’ve eaten about half of this bread already! In the book it says unbleached all-purpose flour is better than bread flour because of the lower protein content. Canadian unbleached all-purpose flour is supposed to perform like bread flour, so I’d like to try this again with bleached flour and see what the difference is.

Recipe here.

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Sourdough Chronicles: Day 1

This is my foray into sourdough making. After reading the 12 pages of information and directions in The Bread Bible twice and not quite understanding it, I jumped right in. It takes a week to get the active starter and then it takes a couple of weeks for the flavour to really develop. I am a huge fan of sourdough, but I haven’t had it in years. My fondest memories is as a child scooping out the soft bread with my hand and eating the bread until nothing was left except the crusty exterior. My dad was not pleased with this. I think I’m grown up enough to appreciate the crumb and crust.

The first day I mixed 120 grams of organic rye flour with an equal weight of filtered water. I don’t drink bottled water anymore, so I used the water from my Brita. After stirring it you get quite a stiff and sticky dough.

Sourdough Starter: Day 1
240 grams, about 1 cup

You store it in a cool place which is no biggie as my condo is on the cool side. Nothing happens for Day 2, so we’ll see what happens on Day 3 when I have to add more flour and water.

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The best pizza dough

I have a confession to make. In less than 30 days I have made pizza at least 5 times. 3 of those times were within 7 days. The times I have made the pizza (including tonight) I have never taken a picture because my greedy grabby hands cut and take a slice and I remind myself that next time I will take a picture.

The first time I made it, I e-mailed my friend right away, gave her a link to the recipe and told her she must make it. And so should you. The crust is nice and crispy, the pizza is baked for a very short time so veggies like green peppers are nice and crunchy. And just like how I ruined store bought bread for Movie Man, I’ve also ruined the pizza that we order in. Homemade pizza is less greasy and more flavourful. It’s also dead easy.

Want the recipe? It’s Rose Levy Beranbaum’s perfect pizza dough recipe (link here). It’s probably the easiest bread recipe in her book and no kneading and no fancy dough stretching is required. I was going to try a different recipe to compare it to, but I’m addicted to the ease of this one. I don’t add as much oil as she calls for, I add half so I have a little left over for the pan and for spreading on top of the dough. I also don’t have a pizza pan (or a baking stone when I first made this) and it still turned out great. I flipped over a baking sheet that I borrowed from my sister (and sort of destroyed making grilled focaccia) and baked it on there. The crust is a little pale, so follow the instructions on the site and pop it under the broiler for a bit. Just watch carefully so you don’t end up with charred toppings.

Our favourite way to have pizza is caramelized shallots, green peppers, and sauteed mushrooms. Another amazing combination would be blue cheese and pears (no tomato sauce!).

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The Bread Bible: Review

I had been holding off on writing a review until I tried more recipes. Looking at my notes, I’ve made 8 recipes out of the 150 in The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum which doesn’t seem like a lot at all. However, I’ve made 7 in the last 4 months which by my standards makes me a bit carb crazy.

I received this book as a Christmas present. Even though I asked for the book, I knew it would be daunting. Having bought Rose’s Christmas Cookies it prepared me for her preferred method of baking (going by weight instead of volume) and her detailed instructions. It’s true, if you follow the directions exactly, it’s almost guaranteed to turn out wonderfully. Do remember to check out her errata, it’ll save you heartache from the recipe not turning out after all that work. I think it’s great that she has a blog to update corrections regularly.

While I learned how to make bread from this book, I don’t know if I’d recommend it for other beginners learning to bake bread. It’s a bit intimidating for someone who is uninitiated in bread baking to read through all of the information, tips, and the recipes that usually take 2 days to prepare and bake. If you don’t mind Beranbaum’s thoroughness, then this is a fabulous book. It’s also great for people who already bake bread and are looking to delve deeper.

I like how the recipes have alternate mixing methods so if you don’t have a mixer, you can do it by hand. The pointers for success provides very helpful information and gives understanding to the method. The recipes that I have tried have all been repeat worthy and sensational. The brioche is to die and the pizza dough is something that will be made often in my household. If you’re looking for whole grain recipes, you’ll want to find another book. Few of the recipes in here include only small amounts of rye or whole wheat flour, for the most part it’s all white flour.

I love this book and it’s started me on the path to not buying store-bought bread as often.

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