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Everyone loves airy crusty bread: you can’t beat a good baguette, and ciabatta is excellent when fresh and even better turned into a panino. Both are flavoursome although with slightly different flavours, with large air bubbles and chewy crust. It’s the dough with high or very high hydration level that makes those beautiful air bubbles.
Exactly. The dough next to impossible to work.
My attempts at the high hydration dough challenge are usually well-advertised by VERY BAD language peppered with EVEN WORSE expletives coming from the kitchen. Notable examples here being joululimppu the Finnish bread, malt vinegar rye and said ciabatta. Scraping the dough off the worktop against its clear wish to spread in the opposite direction and ending up with about two thirds of the amount I started off with – the rest mostly sitting in my hair.
But the ciabatta nightmare is no more – last Saturday there was polite silence coming from the kitchen and fantastic loaves from the oven. This recipe is a huge improvement; relatively quick so perhaps does not carry as much flavour as a sourdough loaf would, but it’s MANAGEABLE! Dare I say EASY! And the OVEN SPRING on those little numbers is a sight to behold!
And why ‘coccodrillo’? Oh please - don’t these loaves look just like gnarly little crocodiles?
Based on Jason’s quick coccodrillo ciabatta recipe which I found on The Fresh Loaf site.
- 350g strong bread flour
- 150g semolina flour
- 475-485g water at room temperature
- 15g fresh or 2 tsp instant yeast
- 15g salt
Best to use a standing mixer for the dough, as it’s really runny. Fix the paddle attachment first and only swap for the dough hook if the dough starts ‘climbing’ up the paddle. If making it by hand, have scrapers at the ready, nags of patience and lots of flour to dust over the work surface.
Place the flours in the mixer’s bowl, add the yeast and give it a quick mix. Stir in the salt. Add the water and mix briefly to rough dough, then let it rest for 10 minutes.
Now beat it at high speed for at least 10 minutes (change the paddle to hook if you have the climbing problem), until it stops sticking to the sides and the bottom of the bowl, looks elastic and stringy. Cover and leave in a warm place to triple in volume, about 2 hours.
Flour the work surface generously and turn the dough out. Using scrapers or two palette knives divide the dough into four pieces and shift them as much apart as you can so they don’t meld together again while proving. Spray the pieces with oil and dust liberally with flour. Let them prove for 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to maximum (250C/500F) and line two baking trays with parchment – or you can bake the bread in two batches. Scrape each piece of dough gently off the surface and stretch it with well-floured hands into a 25 – 30cm oblong loaf. Flip the loaves onto the baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until dark golden and crusty.