Bake bread this holiday season

Ciabatta with Biga
From Advanced Bread and Pastry, page 191
Yield: 2, 1 pound loaves

Bread flour 6 ¾ oz
Water 8 oz
Yeast (instant) 1/8 tsp

Final Dough
Bread flour 11 oz
Water 6 ¾ oz
Yeast (instant) 1/8 oz
Salt 3/8 oz
Olive oil ½ oz
Biga 14 oz
Crushed ice 2 cups

Process: Biga

  1. Warm up the water to 80°F.
  2. Place the flour, water, and yeast in an electrical mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment.
  3. Mix on a low speed for 5 minutes.
  4. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  5. Let it ferment for 1 hour at room temperature.
Process: Final Dough
  1. Place all the ingredients in an electrical mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment.
  2. Mix on a low speed for 5 minutes.
  3. Place in an oiled container with a cover and room for the dough to expand to twice its size. Let the dough ferment for three hours at room temperature.
  4. After one hour of the fermentation, "punch down" the dough by lifting it from each side, one at a time, and folding it to the center.
  5. Give the dough another fold after another hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Preheat a pizza stone or perforated sheet pan as you warm the oven – you will bake the bread on this stone or pan. Also preheat a cast-iron Dutch oven with a bunch of metal nuts and/or bolts – when placing the bread in the oven, you'll add crushed ice to this to create enough steam to produce a great crust.
  7. Dust the work surface heavily with bread flour. Deposit the dough on the flour by flipping the container upside-down.
  8. Dust the surface of the dough, and divide it into 2 equally-sized rectangles.
  9. Place the divided dough pieces on a well-dusted piece of linen.
  10. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  11. Use a firm, flat object larger than the size of the loaves (for example, a plastic cutting board) to transfer the dough to the preheated stone or pan. First set the board next to a long edge of the first piece of dough, then lift the linen gently but firmly to invert the dough onto the board. Use the board to invert the dough onto the stone or pan, floured-side up. Place the pan in the oven. Quickly, and before closing the oven door, put the crushed ice into the cast iron pot. Close the oven door and do not open it for at least 15 minutes.
  12. Bake the dough for about 35 minutes. The bread is done when it has a nice golden-brown color and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom crust.
  13. Immediately place the bread on a rack to cool. Wait to eat the bread until it has cooled completely.
About the San Francisco Baking Institute:
The San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI) is a world-renowned leader in artisan bread and pastry education. SFBI's global alumni base includes thousands of professionals and enthusiasts. We also consult to top domestic and international bakeries. Experts praise us for elevating the baking craft and raising the standard of bread and pastry education. Critics hail our book, Advanced Bread and Pastry, as the authoritative textbook in the field.

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