Tuesday, April 14, 2009

King Arthur Flour's Ciabatta Three Ways

My cooking (and blogging) has come to a screeching halt.

A “tickle” in my chest on Saturday night turned into a full-blown head-and-chest cold, the likes of which I have not experienced in many years. Easter lunch was canceled, so there will be no post of the lemon-glazed chicken cutlets and almond rice pilaf (although the dessert will be reviewed at a later date as I had already made a Meyer lemon cake which, because I cannot taste anything, is now in the freezer awaiting my recovery).

After almost 3 full days of rest, hot liquids, and vitamins I cannot say that I am much better. The few prepared foods that I had in the freezer are gone, and tonight we will eat leftovers from Sunday. Hmmm, if they were never eaten in the first place, are they still considered to be leftovers? And, to add even more fun, Jack had to take Spooky to the vet for an emergency visit (and this is the first time Spooky has ever needed to go to the vet for anything other than his twice-yearly Senior Wellness Checkups). I'm sneezing and blowing my nose and trying to ignore the headache as I , very anxiously, await their return.

One last note: Puffs Plus ROCKS! But I doubt if I will even have a nose in another day or two if this doesn’t let up…

So until I am up and cooking again, I will post a recipe review that I wrote a couple of weeks ago.

We love flavorful, slow-rise breads with a thin, crispy crust and this ciabatta recipe from King Arthur Flour did not disappoint!

One of the wettest dough I have ever worked with, this one literally poured from the bowl onto the baking sheet. Problems with handling it can be minimized, however, if you remember to grease your hands and utensils with shortening beforehand. It is a messy, but necessary, process. I have made this bread three times and, no matter what I do, mine does not rise as much as KA’s does although that’s certainly not a reason for me not to ever make it again.

One of the options is to make this ciabatta into garlic bread. I’m not a fan of garlic bread, I prefer plain ol’ bread (and, if it’s really good, you don’t even need butter), but I made the garlic version for our family Christmas dinner and it disappeared immediately. I was asked to make it again for my Dad’s birthday dinner a few weeks ago, so I did. Again, one slice was left and it was fought over by my 3 nephews.

One of the loaves:

I made a change to the recipe this time, and this was to broil the bread instead of baking. I didn’t notice much of a difference, but Dad liked the “crispy edges” better.

After broiling, I re-sandwiched the halves together then sliced them.

And this was one of the bread baskets, just seconds before the swarms dove in to gobble it up.

Again, the dough is a bit of a pain to work with but the result, whether enjoyed plain or with the garlic and-cheese (and butter!) topping, is incredible.

Start the bread the day before since the starter needs to rest for at least 8 and up to 15 hours, and after this it will be another 3-1/2 to 4 hours before you will slide it into the oven.

I have found that those breads which use a slow-rise starter taste so much better than those made by the more common “knead-rise-punch-rise-bake” method which takes only a couple of hours. Give this one a try. Really, what is more worth waiting for than really, really good bread???