March 6, 2012

Incredibly easy ciabatta

When cooking and baking to avoid allergens, I love recipes with as few ingredients as possible. As a working mother, it's great to find recipes that I can put together quickly and that my son will want to eat as much as I do. 

One real treasure that those categories is a very basic and incredibly easy ciabatta recipe published a couple of years ago by lifehack. It calls for just four ingredients (and one of those is water, which doesn't even really count), takes just moments of preparation and consistently produces a soft and delicious loaf. 

The Kitchen Hack: One-Minute Bread works from a wet yeasted dough left to rise for several hours and bake up to a soft loaf full of big airbubbles. No bread machine or special skill is needed. And there are none of the fillers or risks of cross contamination that commercially prepared breads can present.

The gist: Stir 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast into 2 Cups warm (not hot) water in a large bowl. Stir in 4 Cups flour and a pinch of salt. Cover and let sit for 8-12 hours.  When it's ready to bake, turn out on a floured baking surface and bake in a hot oven for 25 minutes. Once it's out of the oven let it stand at least 10 minutes before slicing or your loaf can deflate.

This recipe works for me as an overnight project. I have a bowlful of dough rising on the kitchen counter as I type this evening. By morning it will be ready for some heat. I'll pop it in the oven first thing so it can bake while we are eating breakfast and getting dressed and ready for the day. It will be finished before I head out to take my son to preschool and go in to the office. And we'll have fresh bread to enjoy later in the day. It should be out of the oven in time to cool the necessary 10 minutes so I can cut a slice to send with him for snack at school.

Optional extras: I like the crunch provided by sprinkling first flour and then a little cornmeal on the cookie sheet before baking, but it works with just flour in a pinch if you don't have cornmeal handy. And I do like sprinkle the dough with some dried herbs (like rosemary or oregano). Even if you just stick to the four basic ingredients, it's a tasty loaf.

Update: That loaf turned out lovely: