Yikes it’s bread week already! I love watching this week as it’s always an exciting episode and shows who’s the upper crust of the bakers. This episode was no exception and featured some of the trickiest bread challenges I’ve seen:
Signature Bake: 12 Rye bread rolls
Technical Challenge: Ciabatta
Show stopper: Bread centre piece
I had my first foray into bread for last year’s GBBO Challenge and was really excited to give it a go again this year. I decided to go hard or go home, and turn my hand to Mr Hollywood’s Ciabatta Challenge.
I don’t have a standing mixer (one day the pistachio Kitchen Aid will be mine!) so I found a recipe which specifically involved mixing by hand. I then went on an absolute baking rollercoaster….
I decided at the last minute that I’d actually try and use my food processor to create my bread and got as far as starting to mix, then realised there was far too much mixture in there and there was no way it was going to work! Ciabatta 1, Emsy 0. I then went to scoop the dough out the mixer only to slice my finger on the blade gahhhh! Ciabatta 2, Emsy 0.
I started making my ciabatta from scratch, this time by (a plaster covered) hand. I was immediately worried that my dough could not be mixed strongly enough by hand and did not look smooth enough, so I was worried the gluten had not developed enough. Ciabatta 3, Emsy 0. I left it to prove however and it did rise slightly hurrah! Ciabatta 3, Emsy 1.
My bread didn’t rise on it’s second prove however. Ciabatta 4, Emsy 1. Or on the third and final prove. Ciabatta 5, Emsy 1. I then got the bread out the oven and it was looking slightly more bronzed than it should. Ciabatta 6, Emsy 1. I hate Ciabatta!!!!
However the bread had risen nicely Ciabatta 6, Emsy 2. It also had the classic hollow sound which means it had been baked well Ciabatta 6, Emsy 3. I flipped the rolls over and wahey – no sign of a soggy bottom! Ciabatta 6, Emsy 4. I then went to cut a slice off and was hit with a nice crusty outer. Ciabatta 6, Emsy 5. I sliced all the way through and there were the classic irregular air holes which are characteristic of a ciabatta. Yes! Ciabatta 6, Emsy 6. Then came the final test – the taste test. I’m so pleased (and a little surprised) to say that it tasted delicious – very fresh and soft yet chewy. Ciabatta 6, Emsy 7.
Phew, so it looks like I pulled it off…just! Here’s the link to the recipe I used, and of course I’ve written it out below:
** 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
** 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
** 1 teaspoon white sugar
** 3 1/4 cups strong white bread flour
** 1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1) Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and then add the water.
2) Mix everything together using a sturdy spoon or spatula until it comes together into a smooth paste / dough. Leave the spoon / spatula in the bowl, cover and leave to prove for one hour.
3) Uncover the dough and mix for another 4-5 minutes. Take out the spoon / spatula, cover and leave for another hour.
4) Gently divide the dough into however many loaves of ciabatta you want (I went for two). Take each piece of dough out and stretch it out into the desired shape and size and lay on a lightly floured baking tray. Lightly dust the top of each loaf and then cover and leave for a final prove for 35 minutes.
5) Uncover and bake in a preheated oven at 230C for 25 minutes. Take out and leave to cool on a baking rack before devouring.
Blimey what a bonkers bread week! Thankfully I managed to pull it off and was actually really happy with my final product. I will definitely make this ciabatta again – it’s a relatively simple recipe with actually quite little hands-on time.
Have you made ciabatta before? Let me know how you got on – did anyone else have a nightmare like I did?!
You can check out my other posts in the 2014 GBBO Challenge series below: