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The Hunt For Yeast

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I have officially become a bread baker.

Like everyone else during this crazy time, I have started to bake bread. I’ve baked bread before but it never really was my go-to baking project. I’ve baked challah for many Jewish holidays, made yeasted desserts, and even gone the cinnamon roll route. However, plain old bread never really was a priority.

Bread

However, with everyone making bread on Instagram I figured why not jump on the trend. That’s when I ran into a small problem. YEAST! Who knew yeast would be flying off the shelves. Every single supermarket in the area seemed to be sold out. My bread baking hopes quickly went out the window. Luckily, the dream came back to life after my family placed a bulk order with a restaurant wholesaler and guess who had yeast in stock! Not only did they have yeast in stock, but it bulk quantities. Let’s just say I’m good to keep baking bread for a loooooong time.

The first bread I decided to tackle was ciabatta. I’ve never made anything like it before and it required some light research in order to get started. I had to learn all about biga! (So gooooey!) Once the biga research was complete, it seemed pretty straightforward. Time was the only thing that was going to make this complicated. The biga needs 12-16 hours to form, so I am very glad I read the recipe the night before I started making it.

The biga was pretty simple to make. Mix yeast, flour, and water together then cover, and let sit overnight.  The biga then acts as the base for the flour mixture. It then essentially gets added in with more flour, water, and yeast. After that, it is all about kneading and rising, and more kneading and rising.

Biga Mix Biga

Once the bread was well-rested and shaped, it was time for the last rise. This rise included putting a little olive oil on the bread and letting it sit under plastic wrap for an hour.

Bread

Finally, it was time to go to the oven. I’d recommend using a baking stone to cook this bread. The stone also makes for a strong and crusty texture. You could use a bread pan, but the stone allows the bread to get nice and HOT.

The bread took the whole day to make and about 10 seconds to consume. Highly recommended if you are looking to jump into the bread baking trend! (That is if you can get your hands on some yeast!)

Bread

Ciabatta Bread

Ingredients
  

Biga

  • 3/4 cup room temperature water
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp Bread flour or AP flour
  • 1/8 tsp Instant yeast or active dry yeast

Ciabatta Dough

  • 3/4 cup room temperature water
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp Bread flour or AP flour
  • 1 tsp Instant yeast or active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • Make the biga. Mix water, flour, and yeast together in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and let sit in a warm place for 12-16 hours.
  • Time for the dough. Add the remaining water into the biga mixture and combine. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt and then add it to the biga mixture. Mix with a dough hook on low speed for about two minutes. Once the dough comes together, increase the speed and allow the dough to form an elastic-like ball, about 3-4 minutes. If you do not have a dough hook, use a wooden spoon to mix the dough. Allow the mixture to form and then continue to knead the dough until it forms an elastic-like ball. Avoid adding more flour to the mixture if you can, only add it in if the mixture is looking particularity runny.
  • Cover the dough in the bowl and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm location. After 1 hour, deflate the dough by giving it a good punch! Poking it with a wooden spoon will work too. Cover the dough once again and let it rise for another hour.
  • After the rise, cover a work surface with flour and turn the dough on top if it. Cut the dough into two equal shaped rectangles, about 4x10 inches each.
  • Transfer the cut dough on to a piece of parchment, leave a few inches between the two pieces of dough. Cover the dough with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap. Let the dough sit until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  • About 15 minutes before the dough looks ready, preheat the oven to 500°. If you are using a baking stone, place the stone in the oven to heat up as well.
  • Take the dough and drizzle some water on top. Transfer the dough, including the parchment, to the stone. Shut the oven and lower the temperature to 425°.
  • Bake the ciabatta for about 20-25 minutes. The crust should be a nice golden brown when it is done. Once the crust reaches that color, turn off the oven and let the bread cool with the doors open, about 2 inches. Let cool fully and enjoy!

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Rustic Italian Ciabatta Bread recipe

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