I'm really in to baking bread at the moment. Ciabatta and sourdough are
my latest floury forays, as well as the standard, thrice weekly batches
of wholemeal loaves.
The process of making ciabatta is quite lengthy and I have had a few bad attempts now, but that means I am begining to start to understand bread making and recognise when textures are right and wrong (or so I think).
A few weeks back, I made my best batch of ciabatta to date. Making it is such a great process, quite different to other breads because of the different stages you have get the dough, to achieve the typical airy, holey texture of a ciabatta. The dough feels very tactile and alive, gently pressing the dough to expel the gases feels wonderful beneath floury finger tips.
To make my bread, I use a bread machine to do the kneading. I have never baked a loaf in the machine, the idea of a odd shaped loaf with a hole in the bottom doesn't appeal. I always use the 45 minute pizza dough setting to get the dough ready for the proving stage in a suitable tin or tray. It saves time and is far less messy than if I was kneading on our narrow work surface, plus it avoids the temptation of four small helpful hands throwing flour about.
The results from the bread machine are great, especially when making a 'wet dough' bread like ciabatta. The recipe I have used is from the excellent book, Baker by Dean Brettschneider, a collection of recipes from Australian and Zealand professionals.