Ital­ian Cia­batta Bread

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This sim­ple Cia­batta Bread recipe will give you a rus­tic that is per­fect for dip­ping into soups or sauces. Ital­ian loaf

The high hy­dra­tion in this bread re­sults in a won­der­fully chewy cen­tre and vis­ually in­ter­est­ing ir­reg­u­lar holes. This is prob­a­bly the eas­i­est cia­batta bread recipe you’ll come across! It is 80 per cent hy­dra­tion bread, which means it’s very wet and sticky and you’ll need a stand mixer to make the dough. Oth­er­wise, it will be near im­pos­si­ble to mix the dough. Slice your cia­batta bread at an an­gle and driz­zle it with olive oil. It can also be used it for dip­ping in soup or soak­ing up sauce. Or you can slice it length­wise and make an Ital­ian Style sand­wich. Whichever way you de­cide to en­joy this bread, I’m sure you’ll be im­pressed with the tex­ture and fla­vor. Home­made cia­batta bread | Makes 2 loaves

Prep time: 24 hours

Cook time: 30 mins

In­gre­di­ents

4 ½ cups bread flour 2 cups wa­ter

¼ tsp yeast

1 ½ tsp salt

½ tsp olive oil

Tools

Stand mixer Large bowl Wooden spoon Sil­i­cone dough scraper Bak­ing pa­per Bak­ing tray

Direc­tions Step 1

Com­bine flour, yeast, and wa­ter in a large bowl. Stir it with a wooden spoon un­til it’s well mixed and free of lumps. Cover the bowl with plas­tic wrap and re­frig­er­ate for at least 12 hours but up to 24 hours. The longer you let the sponge sit, the more fla­vor and struc­ture the fi­nal bread will have.

Step 2

In the bowl of a stand mixer, com­bine the sponge with more flour, wa­ter, and salt. Mix it with the pad­dle at­tach­ment un­til the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Trans­fer the dough to a large bowl greased with olive oil. Cover and let it rise for 45 min­utes. Lightly grease a sil­i­cone scraper and use it to fold the dough over onto it­self be­fore cov­er­ing the bowl and let the dough rise for an­other 45 min­utes. Re­peat this process once more and let the dough rise for a fi­nal 45 min­utes.

Step 3

Trans­fer the dough to a well-floured sur­face and lib­er­ally flour the top of the dough. Use two well-floured bench scrap­ers and care­fully ma­nip­u­late the dough from the sides to form a square. Don’t add any pres­sure to the top of the dough or it will deflate. Cut the square in half and use the bench scrap­ers to gen­tly shape each half into a loaf. Gen­tly slide the bench scrap­ers un­der the dough and trans­fer each loaf to a well-floured cloth. Fold the cloth up on the sides of the dough to sep­a­rate and sup­port each loaf. Let the loaves rise for 20 min­utes.

Step 4

In­vert a bak­ing sheet on to the low­est rack in the oven and heat the oven to 230°C. Place bak­ing pa­per onto a pizza peel or an­other in­verted bak­ing sheet. Slide your fin­gers un­der each end of the loaf and quickly trans­fer it to the parch­ment pa­per. Spray the loaf lightly with wa­ter. Care­fully slide the parch­ment with the loaf onto the heated bak­ing sheet in the oven. Bake for 22 to 27 min­utes.

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