Many people ask me how to make a bread with a good alveolation / large air bubbles (sarei restìa a usare questo termine perché l’ho trovato in pochissimi siti…) First of all it is important to understand the leavening process, which I have purposely written about in this article.
The key lies is making a very moist dough (lots of water), using stronger flours and allowing plenty of time for leavening. Stronger flour is essential for two main reasons: for starters, it easily absorbs larger quantities of water, secondly the higher gluten content creates a sort of “cage” which traps the carbon dioxide produced during leavening. The carbon dioxide expands when baking and creates larger air pockets/bubbles.
Video Recipe for home made Ciabatta bread
- Mix yeast in water until dissolved
- Add half the flour
- Add sugar to feed the yeast
- Start mixing
- Add half of the remaining flour
- Now you can add the salt, which won’t come into contact with the yeast
- Gradually add flour as you mix
- You will see, as the gluten develops, the dough will stick less and less to the sides of the bowl
- Mix for 15-20 minutes until the dough is nice and smooth and comes away from the sides
- Grease a plastic container with oil
- Put the dough in the container
- Cover with a lid so the dough won’t form a cuticle
- Let the dough rise until it doubles in size, or even a little longer. This will take 2 to 3 hours, depending on the temperature.
- I let mine rise in my oven which was off, but I left the light on, which keeps the temperature at about 30°C.
- In this case my dough more than doubled and stuck to the lid. Watch how the gluten “cage” is nicely developed.
- This kind of dough is very moist and is very difficult to handle. Following this technique, we can shape the bread without directly touching it.
- Spray a little water on the worktop so the plastic wrap sticks to it and doesn’t move
- Lay two pieces of wrap on the worktop
- Sprinkle a generous amount of flour so the dough doesn’t stick to the wrap
- Turn the dough over onto the plastic wrap trying to avoid folding it
- You can split it in two if you wish to make two smaller breads, in this case you have to prepare two separate pieces of plastic wrap.
- Using a well greased spatula (so that it doesn’t stick to the dough), shape dough into a loaf without folding it.
- Remove excess flour
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scatter some corn flour on top. This will keep the dough slightly lifted from the sheet so it will bake better.
- Lift the plastic wrap (ask someone to help you if necessary) and flip the dough over onto the baking sheet in one movement, without folding it
- This is essential for two reasons: first of all it creates the typical streaks on the surface, also it redistributes the air bubbles inside.
- Here’s the ciabatta ready for baking
- Put a small pot of water in the oven
- Pre heat oven to 2240°C and sprinkle some water inside to raise the humidity. This, added to the pot of water, will stop the bread from forming a crust right away, otherwise the bread wouldn’t rise properly during baking. Moreover, if the surface is humid, the heat will penetrate deeper and the dough will bake better.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 210-220°C and continue baking for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf.
- After 20 minutes I remove the pot of water to let the crust form. The sooner you remove the pot, the thicker your crust will be.
- Here’s our ciabatta