The smell of yeasted dough permeates the house, and causes complete happiness to all your senses!!! It is a fact, right? There is something so fun about making homemade bread. To make ciabatta bread…wellllll you better set aside three days in your busy schedule. Okay, okay, not a full three days, but I did spend time preparing different aspects of the dough the last three days. AND it was sooooooo worth the wait!!!
I will be sharing the recipe in a moment, but first I wanted to share some fun ideas. In a few weeks it will be a very special day, Mother’s Day! Instead of sharing everyday gift ideas for your Mom, how about giving her some unique, and gorgeous gifts?
Here are some fun Gift ideas:
1. A few years ago I met Susan, and was completely taken away by her gorgeous EcoCuff Wood Bracelets she creates. The bracelets were started because they had leftover wood from the wood working they do. Instead of throwing away the extra pieces of wood, they found a useful way to reduce, reuse, and recycle all the wood. The bracelets are gorgeous, and they just recently came out with a man cuff, so there is literally something for everyone! The bracelets range from $20.00 to $75.00. Here is her Etsy Website. You can follow her on Facebook. And she has her EcoCuffs on a wonderful site called EthicalOceans.
2. If you are having trouble thinking of a gift to get your Mom, how about just giving her some lovely sweet treats? Since starting in the food blog world, I have met some amazing, and talented people- AND completely determined too!! Michelle from Sweet and Simple is someone who is not only kind, generous, but also so determined. She just recently launched her online store, and has box sets available that come already to give to that special person. No wrapping involved! The treats range from $25.00 to $85.00. There are delicious cookies, and fudgey brownies to choose from. Here is Sweet & Simple’s website. You can follow her on Facebook here.
How about giving the gift of relaxation and complete happiness? In any town you will find a acupuncture clinic, there are several forms of acupuncture, and each type will help you in a specific way. “The key to your health resides in strengthening and balancing your body’s energetic forces. From Healing Hands Clinic in Charlotte, NC.” Here in Charlotte, Andi has created an atmosphere that keeps her clients coming back for more. She knows how to help look at what is specifically needed for your body, and how to help you continue to feel good. Acupuncture appointments can range from $50.00 to $150.00 (those prices are just ranges, each clinic is different.) If you are local, you can follow The Healing Hands Clinic here. You can follow the Healing Hands on Facebook here.
4. This last idea is also the fun giveaway! For those foodies out there, Moms included, this is a fun gift idea. EatSmart Scales are a perfect way to ensure every recipe is measured accurately. The scale is lightweight, and works on four measurement modes- grams, ounces, kilograms and pounds. There is no cord to get in the way when you are cooking, the scale runs on batteries. The scales range from $25.00 to $90.00. BUT remember I am giving away a scale to one lucky reader, so even better, right? You can follow EatSmart Products here.
Have fun shopping for your Mom, she deserves something fun, and maybe even delicious this year! Now if you are feeling adventurous, you could make her this ciabatta bread…using the scale you may just win….BONUS!
I am thankful for my bread baking experience at the cafe last year. It really helped me realize baking bread was not hard, it actually is very fun! This bread is the very definition of fun! Thank you to Jenni from Pastry Chef Online, she was so helpful during the process. If you need her help, just send her a message on her Facebook page, she is always willing to help! Since I had never made ciabatta bread before, I wanted to make sure I did it right. The recipe I will share is Pastry Chef Online’s Food52sDay recipe interpretation. If you want to learn more about Food52sDay, here are the rules. I will share the adaptions I made in parenthesis on the ingredient list.
A hard outer crust, with a beautiful fluffy bread inside! Every bite is full of flavor, and may cause serious happy dances!
For the Poolish
Mix flour, water and yeast together.
Cover loosely and let sit out at room temperature for about twelve hours (more is fine, but don’t go crazy).
For the Ciabatta
The original recipe calls for adding ingredients in a certain order. I just used the straight dough method and dumped everyone, except for the olive oil and 1/2 cup of flour, into the pool at once. This worked out nicely.
Dump all the ingredients–except for the olive oil and 1/2 cup of flour–in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or in a large bowl if you’re doing this by hand). Start by adding just 8 oz of beer.
Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes and on medium-low speed for another 7-8 minutes. The dough should be sticky and slumpy when the mixer is stopped. It’s okay if it sticks in the bottom of the bowl, but it should clear the sides. Add extra beer, a little at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. If you’re unsure, err on the side of a little too much liquid as opposed to a little too little. (If making by hand, mix the dough with a wooden spoon, then grease your hands and knead by hand for a good 15-20 minutes–kneading right in your big old bowl is fine, or you can dump it out onto your counter). Oil your hands as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. This will also deter you from adding extra flour and ending up with a dry loaf. You’re welcome).
Check to see that the dough is ready for rising by oiling your hands and pulling a piece out. It should be very stretchy–you should be able to pull it out farther than you think before it tears.
Leave the dough in the mixer bowl and spread 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over it to keep it from drying out.
Cover it loosely and let it rise at room temperature for several hours.
Whenever you think about it, fold the dough over on itself to help redistribute the yeast.
Put the bowl of dough in the fridge in the evening, and then pull it out again in the morning. Twelve hours or so in the fridge is ideal.
Pour another Tablespoon of olive oil onto the dough and let it come up to room temperature and slowly rise again for another 3 hours or so, folding it over when you think about it.
At the end of the rise, press all the gases out of the dough and divide it into two equal parts. Mine weighed 17.5 oz apiece.
Shape each into kind of an oblong and place them on a greased cookie sheet a good 6 inches apart, because they’ll spread a bit.
Liberally sprinkle each loaf all over with the flour. Be so liberal that it’s not really a sprinkle but a downpour.
Cover the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for a good couple of hours. The loaves will almost double in size, and you’ll see cracks in the flour layer.
Preheat your oven to 450F and set your oven rack to the lowest setting. If you have a pizza stone, put it on the rack. Let the oven preheat for at least 30-45 minutes.
Put the cookie sheet on the baking stone (if using) and bake until the internal temperature of the loaves is about 200F-210F. In my oven, this took about 22 minutes. Start checking at 20. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, you can thump the loaves on the bottoms. If they sound hollow, they’re done.
Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Take the loaves off of the cookie sheet and let them cool on wire racks so their bottoms don’t get soggy. Don’t slice them until they’re just barely warm. If you can wait until they’re completely cool, that’s even better.