Surfas Breadmaking Class: Bread #4: Ciabatta

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When I was making Ciabatta in the bread-making workshop at Surfas Culinary District in Culver City, I felt a sense of dejavu, like I’ve been here before. It was a new experience but everything somehow felt so familiar.

After thinking about it for a bit, I realize that I have been here indeed, when I made Focaccia several years ago. The process was almost identical so when I got home that night, I Googled “what the #@#% is the difference between Ciabatta and Foccacia?” and found this explanation from America’s Test Kitchen’s website:

Focaccia has a moist, tender texture and tooth-sinking chewiness. “Ciabatta” — Italian for “slipper,” a reference to the bread’s broad, flattish shape — is subtly tangy with large air pockets and has a pleasantly chewy texture.

Oh, now I know why Ciabatta goes so well as a sandwich, while Focaccia makes a lovely accompaniment to soups!

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Before starting the recipe, you must prepare the sponge, or a pre-fermented dough.  Luckily, it was already prepared for us.

To start, mix the yeast mixture, sponge, water, oil, and flour in a stand mixer fitted with dough hook, at low speed until the flour is just moistened.  Continue to beat the dough, this time at medium speed. for 3 minutes.   Add salt and beat for 4 more minutes.

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Turn the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 1-1/2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

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Turn dough onto a floured work surface.  The dough is very wet and a bit difficult to handle.

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Cut the dough in half with a bench scraper (an amazing tool) and transfer them onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper.  Now the fun part — dimple loaves with your fingers!

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Let the loaves rest for about 1-1/2 hours or until it doubles in size again. Cover with dampened kitchen towel.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped with fingers.

I went shopping (the test kitchen is inside a professional kitchen supply store) while Ciabatta cooled on the rack, which was a bad idea.  I wanted everything in the store!  I had to hurry up to get out of there before I ended up buying the entire store!

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One great takeaway from baking Ciabatta is learning about pizza stone.  It apparently helps absorb moisture for crispier bread … and crispy and flavorful it was.  I ate it when I got home and loved it.  I smeared insane amount of mayonnaise on the bread and devoured it.  Man, it was delicious!

Next up is, last but not least, Brioche!

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Rolling

Breakfast (10:15 a.m.): Smoked salmon sandwich on ciabatta bread, with coffee, for breakfast. I meant to buy a sourdough baguette but picked up ciabatta by accident. The bread was good, but I prefer my usual baguette. I’ve been hooked on mayonnaise lately … eeek.

Lunch (3:00 p.m.): I couldn’t eat lunch at a decent hour so I was starved by the time I was able to take a break from work. I was going to roll myself a California roll but didn’t have the energy for it, so I had a California roll bowl, with imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, seaweed, on the bed of sushi rice.

Dinner (7:30 p.m.): I decided to finally roll up my sleeves and roll California rolls for dinner (that was a lot of rolls) … but maybe I should have stuck with the deconstructed version, as my sushi-rolling skills are pretty embarrassing.redfaceI really debated whether I should post the picture of the rolls, as I might have to turn over my Japanese card after this.

My boss at work gave the entire team egglings for the holiday, to celebrate our future growth. It’s like Chia pet but million times cooler. This has to be one of the best gifts e.v.e.r. I’m still thinking what to call this frog.  He seemed to already found a friend in Mr. Dragon.