I started the Ciabatta today! Actually, I started it last night. Apparently you need to make a fermented "sponge" by mixing in yeast and warm water with some flour, and letting it stand at room temperature for 12 hours. So I quickly mixed up the starter and left it on the counter overnight. In the morning it looked spongy and slimy with lots of holes. Interesting. Perhaps it's similar to starting a sourdough bread. I mixed the spongy starter with more flour and water and some olive oil, and more yeast. It's been sunny lately so leaving the dough covered with plastic wrap outside in the backyard makes for a nice, warm proofing environment.
I'm going to have to finish the Ciabatta later today because I have some events I'm attending, so I stuck it in the fridge after letting it rise for 1.5 hours in the warm sun. I will have to let it rise 1.5 hours again, and then I can finally bake it! So it'll probably end up happening this evening after I come back from visiting a friend. But man! I didn't realize how long these "fancy" breads take to proof and then rise and then rise again....there's so much waiting time in between! I truly hope this ciabatta turns out better than my focaccia yesterday.
I decided to screw the cook book on both the focaccia and ciabatta recipes. Why go for cookbook with intricate and time-consuming instructions when there are videos and recipes online that are faster and yield more accurate results? I'm using a new focaccia recipe from Food Network, and a Ciabatta recipe from food.com because it has super good reviews and I just somehow trust food.com more than allrecipes because their recipes have been more fool-proof in the past.
Also, I learned something about YEAST! Shout out to my chef friend Michael for mentioning it, but he mentioned how I might have killed my yeast yesterday in my focaccia by making the water too hot. The focaccia recipe called for water that is "hot to the touch" and between 105-115 degrees. I personally think that was a faulty way to instruct people to help activate their yeast. It's too hot, and risky! Especially if yeast tends to deactivate from being too hot when it is around 120 degrees.
Also, I learned the difference between active dry yeast, instant yeast, pizza yeast, etc... with this cool youtube video. Active yeast needs to be hydrated and dissolved in warm water (not too warm!) with a Iittle sugar in order for it to be activated. Instant yeast is ground to a smaller powder and thus does not need this extra step. Because instant yeast is so finely ground, it activates almost immediately. think all of this is very useful to know in making bread that turns out great every time.
Pictures and more reflections on my ciabatta will be coming to you later today!
Have a lovely day!
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