Domesticity and delegation – the double Ds of bread baking.
We have a super wicked weakness for bread. The yeastier, the better. Nothing makes me feel more domestic than kneading a loaf of bread. With my stand mixer. While I sit at the kitchen island flipping through this month’s Bon Appetit. Sipping on a glass of wine.
The one problem with delegation is that there’s no one else to blame when delegation results in the stand mixer launching itself off of the counter top. Luckily, KitchenAid apparently makes their mixers from some invincible, Hollywood-conceived metal… it survived the fall unscathed and finished kneading the dough. And the dent in the travertine floor is barely noticeable (or so I keep telling myself).
Google Reader brought me a gem of a yeasty goodie last week: Parmesan Ciabatta from Amber’s Delectable Delights. I finished scanning the recipe while leaning towards the kitchen – that huge chunk of Pecorino-Romano that had been sitting in the cheese drawer for far longer than it should have would be meeting an oozy end.
Chewy ciabatta bread flavored with Pecorino-Romano cheese. Substitute Parmesan for the Romano for a different take on the bread.
- For the Biga (Starter):
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup water
- 1/8 tsp instant yeast
- For the dough:
- All of the starter
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 6 oz Pecorino-Romano cheese, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cup), plus extra for grating over the top of the bread
- Biga: Mix all of the biga ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until well-blended. Cover the bowl, and leave it at cool room temperature for 12 to 20 hours, until the biga is very bubbly.
- Dough: Mix the biga and the remaining dough ingredients, except the cheese, using an electric mixer set on slow speed, for 2 to 4 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix for about 4 minutes; the dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Add additional water or flour if necessary. Mix in the cheese; don't worry if some pieces pop out. I didn't fully understand what this meant until I started chasing down the cubes of romano that were shooting out of my stand mixer bowl. Good stuff! Allow the dough to rise, in a greased, covered bowl, for 1 to 2 hours, until it's very puffy. Note: You can also mix this dough in a bread machine set on the dough cycle; add the diced cheese several minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and shape it into two long loaves, about 12 x 4 inches each. I did 4 loaves, approx 6x4. Place the loaves, floured side up, onto parchment paper (if you plan to bake on an oven stone) or baking sheets. Cover the loaves with a proof cover or well-greased plastic wrap, and allow them to rise for 45 minutes, or until they're very puffy. Sprinkle them with additional grated cheese.
- Bake the ciabatta in a preheated 450 oven for 22 to 26 minutes, until it's golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack.
Yields: 2 loaves
Estimated time: 15 hours