Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ciabatta


Saturday, October 7, 2006
My ciabatta started out so well.
It was another of those crazy Italian very soft, wet doughs that are supposed to magically turn into the correct texture. Like the infamous focaccia. Which didn't.
But this one, made in my KitchenAid (on Speed 6, which is as fast and furious as a Tilt-A-Whirl) actually did what it was supposed to do. In just one second, it turned from a puddle into a dough.
And I could follow the directions for shaping it, too. It was soft and yet malleable, and it looked just like the picture when I was forming it into a loaf.
The problem started when I opened the oven to put it in. Usually at 475, a wave of heat blasts out of the oven, but this time it just seemed warm. I figured I must be getting inured to the heat. But when I opened the oven after 15 minutes to turn the dough around and take it off the baking sheet, I suspected a problem. The bread was not at all brown, not even beige, but I was still hoping that another ten minutes in the oven would fix it.
It didn't.
Finally I had to admit that my oven was just not working, and I had a half-baked loaf of bread. I thought of possibilities: turn the heat up as high as it would go and put the bread on the radiator; turn the hair dryer on high and blast the bread; put the bread on the clothes dryer's sweater attachment. But it was clear even to me that these were all stupid ideas.
Then I remembered that my next-door neighbors were out of town and I had a key to their house. I grabbed my baking stone, with the bread on top of it, and ran over to their house and put the bread in their oven. No time to preheat the oven for an hour. Their two cats came in the kitchen to investigate, but got bored with my project and went back to their naps.
After ten minutes, I opened the oven and looked. It was sort of tan on top, and I figured that was as good as it was going to get, so I dashed back to my house to put it on a cooling rack.
After about an hour, I decided it was time to slice it and see what this two-oven, two-house bread was going to look like on the inside. To my surprise, it wasn't that bad. It's supposed to have big holes in it. Mine had medium-sized holes, which, given the circumstances, I was happy with.

I sliced some more and served it with roasted garlic (baked before the oven went kaput). In fact, there was some conjecture at our house that the five cloves of garlic are what did the oven in.
The twice-baked ciabatta was actually quite delicious: both the bottom and top crusts were thin and crispy, and the inside of the bread was soft but with plenty of character. If I ever get a working oven, this is a bread to make over and over. The oven repair person is supposed to arrive on Monday. I just hope it can be brought back to life so that I can bake my twelve remaining breads.

10 comments:

Nabeela said...

I came across your blog through freshloaf.com and am quite impressed at your baking skills. I hope your oven gets fixed soon! :)

AppleSister said...

I just found your blog, too, and was so enthralled I went through and read all the archived posts. You've inspired me to try making yeast breads this winter. And as an immigration lawyer, I have to say, I have so much respect for your day job, too. Congratulations on all your fantastic breads!

breadbasketcase said...

Nabeela,
The oven is already fixed--it just needed an igniter (or something like that), so I'm good to go for next weekend's bread.

breadbasketcase said...

Applesister,
Thank you! I hope that you'll start to love bread baking like I have. And thanks for the comment about my day job too--it's always nice when people have a reaction other than gasping, pulling back, and saying, "How can you do that?"
I also have a lot of respect for immigration lawyers--just read an article about the difficulties in applying for asylum.

pinknest said...

lovely photo!

Suzanne Pancrazi said...

This is one of the best breads in the book that I've made. You have just GOT to make in in '07 when you are ready for repeats.

extrastorchy said...

Despite the problems you encountered, yours at least ended up with those nice wrinkly bits in it. I tried to create the wrinkly bits. Really I did. But the in the finished loaf there was nary a wrinkly bit to be found.

If you scroll down halfway through my Wawa ciabatta melt blog, you'll see what I mean:

http://extrastorchy.blogspot.com/2007/08/wawa-youve-given-me-wah-wah.html

PA-thetic. It was tasty, though, and really airy.

breadbasketcase said...

Extra,
Your post is so funny! I think we can agree that both of our ciabattas look better than the Wawa version. Why have I never heard of Wawa?

extrastorchy said...

It's an east coast thang. I'm from Milwaukee originally and I'd never heard of Wawa until I moved to NYC. Come to think of it, I don't know whether we even have Wawa in North Carolina, where I live now.

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