I love baking with my family. You might remember how I told you in my last post that as soon as I got home for Christmas, my mum made sure I had all the necessary ingredients to bake. Over the holidays I made cookies with my sister, yeasted orange raisin bread and this delicious ciabatta.
We are a family of cooks. My dad, being from the region of Spain where paella is from, is great at anything rice. His 'brothed rice' as you might translate it, is out of this world good. Cooked slow, with tons of veggies and some meat, is my favorite comfort food. And it happens to be quite healthy. Maybe I should show you guys how to make it soon.
My mum has several specialties. There's her meat stuffed calamari and her meatballs with squid. Both are things I used to request as my birthday celebration lunch. They are just to die for. Her pork tenderloin stuffed with prunes and sausage is quite epic as well. In fact, when I lived back in Boston, I made it for a friends' bday and my vegetarian roomie tried it. According to her, it smells too good not to do so.
My sisters have her signature dishes as well and they've gotten to master some of my mum's dishes. And I'm the baker of the family. Quite honestly, it works pretty well this way. I enjoy teaching my mum how to make ciabatta or making her apple cake. I love seeing my dad dip a piece of orange raisin bread in his morning coffee. I had lots of fun making decorated cookies with my sister.
All in all, I feel really grateful for a family of cooks and eaters. For having grown up appreciating good ingredients and home made goodness. Sitting around the table and enjoying meals with my family makes me happy. Incredibly happy. This is the ciabatta I made with my mum. Probably the best thing I've ever baked. With a hard crunchy crust and a fluffy crumb. Try it, you'll thank me later.
Peter Reinhart's Ciabatta (from the Bread Baker's Apprentice)
For the poolish (pre-ferment)
Bread flour – 2 1/2 cups
Water – 1 1/2 cups
Fresh yeast – 1/2 tsp
For the final dough
Poolish – 3 1/4 cups (All of the Poolish above)
Bread flour – 3 cups
Fresh yeast – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 3/4 tsp
Water – 1/2 cup
Olive Oil – 4 tbsp
The night before baking prepare the poolish. Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water and stir in the flour. Mix with your hand or a wooden spoon until combined. The poolish will be quite liquid. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for a few hours in a warm place and then in the fridge overnight.
The day of baking, remove the poolish from the fridge and let it rest outside for at least 1 hr before using it. When the poolish is ready, mix the yeast with the water (lukewarm) and then add the flour, salt and olive oil. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. (Too sticky means it doesn't come off the walls of the bowl you're mixing it in). Flour your counter and place your dough in it. Stretch the dough and fold it over itself the same way you fold a letter. (One third of it towards the center, then the other third, then fold those two parts so it looks like a closed book). Repeat the folding and brush the top of the dough with olive oil. Let the dough rest for 30 min. Repeat the folding and brushing and let the dough rest for 2 hrs. Cut your dough in whatever shapes you'd like, I made two loaves. Put it on top of parchment paper and let it rise for 1 hr. Preheat your oven to 220 C or 400 F. Bake your loaves for 20-25 min, until they are golden brown and make a hollow sound when you 'knock' them.