Posts tagged Bread

Ciabatta Bread Recipe

This bread is such a treat. It’s soft, incredibly open, and light in the hand — almost like a bushel of puffy marshmallows bound together by a crust poised to shatter at the slightest pressure. This is a bread that asks to be torn with hands, dunked into best olive oil in the pantry. That is, if you can stop yourself from cutting it in half and sandwiching together all manner of delicious ingredients (I couldn’t, as you’ll see later). I hope this sourdough ciabatta bread recipe becomes a regular in your kitchen as it has been in mine.

Classically, ciabatta is intended to be used for sandwiches, or panino, of all kinds. The smaller ciabatta panini are wildly popular in Italy and even here in the US, and for good reason. The wide footprint of these slippers — ciabatta means slipper in Italian — have a sturdy crust that provides the right platform for ensnaring anything and everything one could conceivably use for a sandwich. As you’ll see later in this post, I found myself making sandwiches with just about everything lying around in my fridge — not to mention all the fresh vegetables from the market.

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Sourdough Baguettes

I’ve fallen hard for these pointy sticks. Their beautifully exaggerative shape that starts with a thick center and transitions into dangerously sharp instruments at the ends. Colors stretching from the periphery of black to almost-too-light; contrast that elicits stares. A creamy and tender interior that’s so porous it soaks the butter inevitably spread thick during moments of eager anticipation. Pure sourdough baguettes are a tricky thing, I think, but when everything lines up just right all your past shortcomings discovered in testing vanish in an instant. All the trials and tests and tweaks fade away, leaving only a sense of accomplishment — that feeling of satisfaction that only comes when expectation and end result align.

These beautiful baguettes do take concerted effort and practice but the results are absolutely worth the work. Ok, technically these are demi-baguettes given their shorter stature and perhaps reduced dough weight, but the nature of this bread holds to the ideal. The slender shape, thin crust, and delicate interior simply exudes baguette, even if their specs are a little skewed.

I’ve been working on this recipe relentlessly, and if you follow me on Instagram you know this, but all the work put into these revolves around around the simple fact baguettes are just plain challenging. I find that beyond the required fermentation attention, flour selection, hydration adjustments, cold versus warm bulk decisions, and seeking that correct proof point, there’s the matter of coercing the dough delicately into the correct shape. As with many things, they simply require practice. Continue reading

Einkorn Sourdough Bread

These days it seems I seldom bake bread comprised of only a single flour. Usually my mind busily weaves together a formula of disparate flours after I decide on an end goal. The end goal is my compass, dictating the direction as I work backwards to make it happen: the flavor from this flour, this one is extra nutritious, add some extensibility with this one, perhaps a bit of color with this other, and perhaps some added strength, if necessary. Lately, though, I’ve been focusing down on a formula comprised in total of ancient einkorn wheat flour. I’ve baked with einkorn many times in the past at less than one hundred percent of the total formula (and my einkorn miche is always my go-to for large dinners), but pushing the percentage of einkorn results in a unique sourdough bread.

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Whole Grain Wheat and Spelt Pan Bread

A splendid, gentle top-curve from dough that’s proofed just enough. Just enough to still have “energy” to expand upward in the oven, but not so much that it causes an erratic fissure due to the lack of scoring. A balance. Add to that a striking exterior color from a bold bake, the enticing aroma from the use of fresh milled flour, and a speckled oat topping — all contributing to a truly wonderful bread. But beyond all this, it’s one that’s meant to be eaten in thick slices carved from the loaf with a spread of soft butter, toasted and topped with fresh preserves, or used to cobble together a sandwich piled a little too high. When baking this whole grain wheat and spelt pan bread I could have sworn the kitchen smelled of honey… Or perhaps it was my eagerness to eat the result. When you go the distance from raw berries, to fresh milled flour, to baked bread — all the while controlling each part of the transformation1 — it’s easy to get a little antsy, a little impatient, and frankly, a little hungry.

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  1. Or as much control as we’d like to think we have over fermentation.

Einkorn Miche

This hefty einkorn miche epitomizes community. It’s substantial and baked with the intention to share, to break with others, to enjoy its hearty flavor and nourishing quality gathered at the dinner table. A loaf so heavy it practically requires two hands to lift — and oh what a statement it makes.

Traditionally, miche are large, round country-style loaves pmeant to sustain a family for the days between their turn at baking in the communal oven (and with natural leavening, and all the subtle acidity built up through lengthy fermentation, it certainly will1). If you think about it, a massive round loaf is probably the most efficient way to bake large quantities of dough: It takes up less space in the oven, has plenty of crust, it can be divided and wrapped up, and finally, if meant to go to a single destination, a single loaf makes sense. A true daily bread.

Over time as the central community oven became more and more scarce, these large loaves began to fall out of favor, replaced by more ephemeral bread meant to be consumed entirely on the day of baking. But there’s still a place for this beautiful, and enticing, loaf.

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  1. As you know, sourdough breads have incredible keeping quality due to the natural acids produced as a byproduct of lengthy fermentation.