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Ciabatta recipie

100g/4oz strong white organic flour
85ml/3floz water
1 packet activated yeast

1kg/2lb strong white flour
700ml/24floz water
1 level tablespoon salt

Combine the flour, water and yeast in a bowl. Cover with clingfilm,
and leave to ferment in fridge for 24 hours.

In a mixing bowl blend the starter dough with the flour, water and
salt. With a metal spoon stir till dough is elastic. When it gets
too stiff to turn, move the bowl around the spoon. You can use an
electric blender on a slow speed for 30 second to get it started.
Cover with oiled clingfilm, and leave for 1 1/2 hours till doubled
in size.

Turn the dough into an oiled, 8in square, deep sided tin. Cover
with oiled clingfilm, and leave to rise for 1 1/2 hours till doubled
in size.

The critical stage. take 2 sheets of baking paper, cut into rectangles
15in by 4in, and sprinkle with flour. Turn out the runny drough
with well floured hands and cut into 2 rectangles. Flatten onto
the sheets of baking paper. Then lift up the long edge of each
strip of dough, and fold lenghtwise along the top so that the top
one-third sits on the bottom two-thirds. Sprinkle with flour, to
prevent sticking, and lightly cover with a floured cloth. Leave
to rise for 45 minutes.

Slide a large metal tray into the middle of your oven and pre-heat
to 425F/ 220C/Gas 7. Prepare 2 'peels' or bases to support the
delicate dough when you transport it to the oven. I use 2 pieces
of stiff cardboard, cut to 15in by 4in. Place 2 more sheets of
floured baking paper ( cut to the same size) on the peels. Gently
invert the 2 dough shapes on to their new bases. Leave uncovered
for 15 minutes to recover.

To bake: spray the dough with water, using a plant-spray, and spray
the inside of the oven. The moisture prevents the dough from forming
a skin too soon. Supporting each ciabatta with the cardboard peel,
slide onto the heated oven tray. Spray 3 or 4 more times while
the bread continues to rise. Bake for 40-45 minutes. The crust will
be crisp when done and the loaf should make a hollow sound when
you tap on the bottom. Leave to cool on a wire rack. These loaves
freeze superbly, if you dont want to eat them at once.

Instead of 2 large ciabatta loaves, you can make 4 smaller ones,
cutting the dough into 4 instead of 2, using 4 sheets of baking
paper, 4 peels, and probably 2 oven trays. reduce baking time to
25-30 minutes.


VARIATIONS.

For a soft in stead of crusty finish, add a tablespoon or 2 of
extra-virgin olive oil to the dough.

For a soft,sweet crumb, replace some of the water with milk ( about
5 tablespoons).

For a sweet golden crust, add a teaspoon of malt extract.

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