From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My need for no-knead Ciabatta

I was cruising the web looking for a really really simple way to make some kind of rustic bread, like a Ciabatta.  I found some that had too many steps (like making a 'sponge' a day ahead and many spells of stretching the dough the next day), or not enough steps that ended up with not what I was looking for.

Then I found the Goldilocks site: Food Wishes Video Recipes / No Knead Ciabatta .  Hot cha!  The short video showed the whole process.  Even *I* could do this!

Not only could, but DID - 3 times to date. :-D

Off the bat I liked this recipe - I had all the ingredients right on hand: flour, active yeast, salt & water.  You mix all the ingredients the night before, cover it and let it rise for 18 hours (at least).  Then stir the sticky dough down with a spatula, fold it a couple of times, shape/stretch out a loaf onto a corn-mealed pan, let it rise 2 hours (covered), bake 35-45 minutes at 425 and VOILA!

It's got crust.  It's got airholes. It's got the look of an artisan rustic bread.

The utter simplicity of it all.  While the elapsed time from grabbing ingredients to slathering that first slice with butter will be 21 (+/-) hours, but interactive time?  Practically nada!  A few minutes to mix and cover to rise.  A few minutes to scrape/shape & cover the loaf to rise.  Pop into pre-heated oven, set the timer and *PING* - TADA!


A few days later *munch munch* I decided to make another loaf.  The first loaf was a little dry to my taste so thought I'd experiment.  And like most of my experiments, things got a little - unexpected.  For a better 'mouth' feel, I added 2T of EVOO.  But I didn't think to reduce the 2C of water by 2T, which made for a very loose dough.  The 2nd thing I did was not wear my glasses.  *sigh*  Instead of 1/4t of yeast, I sprinkled in 1/2t.  Oh good grief.  So, before I added the water I added 1t of sugar to give all that extra yeast something to eat.  LOL  Anywho...  As you can see by the resulting loaf above, that loosy-goosey dough spread out, not up.  This one didn't look so much like football, but a flounder! 

Logic might tell you that 2ce as much yeast would result in even more air pockets.  And it even might have done that, had not the dough been so loose from the olive oil.  Or maybe it was the sugar.  Whatever.  I ended up with a dense, flat loaf with a softer crust.  Appearance suffered.

But oh my the flavor.  This bread was the bomb! The olive oil lingered on the tongue.  No need to butter this bread!  And I'm sure that bit of sugar contributed to the rich flavor.

An unexpected benefit of this denser loaf was that it sliced like magic.  I was cutting slices as thin as 1/4" - and sturdy slices at that.  It made excellent toast.  Toasted lightly the crust was crispy and the center chewy.  Toasted a little more and it held up to humus, chicken pate, and cream cheese.  Take toasting one step further and you'd never have to buy boxed melba toasts/crackers again.  This happy accident turns out to be a real keeper!

But the train moved on down the tracks and it was time to make more bread.  Should I use batch #2 recipe again?  Or try another experiment?  Wooohaha.

Bread batch #3.  The original recipe called for 3.5C of white flour and .5C of whole wheat.  But why?  Why indeed?  This time my .5C was RYE flour.  I used the right amount of yeast, and added only 1T of EVOO (reducing the 2C of water by 1T to compensate).  No sugar this time.  But did add 1T of caraway seed (it just goes with rye, no?).  The last difference this time was that I let the dough rise an extra hour, 19 instead of 18.  I noticed when I turned out the dough to make a loaf that the dough was sticker and denser.  Was it the extra rise time?  Was it the rye flour?  Who knows...

What happened then was fun to watch.  Through my oven door I saw that loaf grow like something from a sci-fi movie.  Honestly it got huge.  Hey, somebody call Goodyear and see if they're missing a blimp!  

The science of making bread still eludes me.  I know that rise time and yeast and type of flour etc all play into the final loaf.  But right now, I'm just going with the FUN, the messing around to see what happens.

I'll be making more soon.  Most likely I'll take yet another tack.  Why not?  It's the fun of not knowing what will come out of the oven that brings me back; the excitement, the thrill of discovery as much as the crusty, chewy results.  *munch*

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  1. Kris, isn't it fun! That is what I enjoy about bread-making....every time it turns out a little different, but it is always good.

    I have never made ciabatta. Which one did you like the best?

  2. Glenda - I've got a batch rising from last night made with all white flour, 2T of EVOO and will bake that this morning. For flavor #2 was nicest so far but am hoping #4 today will be more like that. In future if I use the rye/caraway again, I'll either use no seeds or double them - 1T didn't do the trick for me.

  3. So, is EVOO extra virgin olive oil?

    I wish I would have looked at this sooner yesterday, and gotten some started. I want to try it, maybe this weekend. I made a new recipe, ground beef and black-eyed pea stew for supper today. It had raisins, cinnamon, and allspice in it. I was really wishing I'd have made this bread. I ended up going to the store to get some nice chunky whole wheat bread to eat with the stew.

  4. Sue - sorry, didn't find your comment until today. Yes, extra virgin olive oil. I hope you get a chance to try this easy bread. Looking forward to hearing if you did and how did it go? It's a great chunky bread for soups and stews. :-D