I borrowed a couple of bread baking books from my work place's library. Yes. We actually have a library at my work place - one that loans books from the National Library Board. My office is cool like that.
The rebel chick - Yeast.
The books had been lying around in my room for AGES. I'm guilty of loaning them for like ever. In fact, they remained unflipped for weeks - the only movement they had was when I had to bring them to the office to renew them, and back they come to my room again - collecting dust.
Last week, it was Christmas and we had a long weekend to rest. I decided to bake bread. After some previous recent failed attempts (namely - cinnamon raisin bread), I was a bit apprehensive to deal with my rebel child - Yeast. She's one scary chick. You never know how she might behave at any one time, and even if you treat her well, she might just not, you know, rise up to the occasion to give you some "face". Sigh.
I decided to try my luck again with bread baking. But with smaller quantities to start things off. I halved the recipe of the French styled ciabatta in one of the books I borrowed. And lo and behold, I actually produced some decent homemade bread! I was so excited with the first batch of four mini buns, that I baked more bread the next day. I made the original quantity this time round, making five mini buns and one big loaf. They turned out just as good as the day before. I was ecstatic (to say the least) that I had managed to you know, bake bread from scratch.
The recipe only called for a handful of ingredients and it was a breeze as it was sort of a one bowl recipe. One gripe was that it called for 22 minutes of kneading by the mixer using the dough hook. I wouldn't complain if I had a kickass KitchenAid mixer to assist, but I was dealing with my hand mixer. Which got so hot that I had to turn off for 10s every 2-3 minutes after the 15 minutes mark as I was afraid that it would just combust in my hands. I really gotta go get myself a KitchenAid this year...
Anyway, the bread tasted really yummy. I had some with butter, and some with blueberry preserves and they both tasted great. I reckon they would taste good sandwiched with cheese, ham and veggies as a sandwich lunch. It's a keeper and I can so imagine myself making these for a picnic lunch some day. ;)
French styled ciabatta (adapted from The Easy Way to Artisan Breads & Pastries)
375g bread flour
1 tbsp yeast
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the above ingredients (except salt) and using the dough hook, mix at low speed for 3 minutes. With the mixer still running, slowly add in the salt and continue mixing for 22 minutes at medium speed.
Transfer the dough to a large floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rest for 40 min - 1 hour.
Take the dough and place it on a floured work space and flatten with palm to remove air pockets.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a large 12" x 10" rectangle 1/2 inch thick.
Carefully transfer the dough to a floured kitchen towel, cover with another kitchen town and let rise for another 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 215C.
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough (still on the towel) into 8 rectangles, each 6" x 2.5". Working quickly, turn each one puffed side down onto a lined baking tray one finger's width apart )they rise rather than spread).
Bake for 15 minutes (depends on number of loaves as you shape them), or until browned on top and a knock on the bottom produces a hollow sound.