Helen Webber’s Shaggy (Ciabatta) Bread Recipe
Shaggy Bread Ciabatta Bread Recipe
- 3 cups warm water
- 1 ¼ tbsp. sea salt, kosher salt or 1 tbsp. table salt
- 1 ½ tbsp. yeast, instant or regular
- 6 cups flour – unbleached or all purpose – I often substitute 1 cup of some type of whole grain flour for a total of 6 cups
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- Mix the water, salt and yeast, stirring to dissolve in a 16-cup container preferably with a lid. I use a gallon ice cream pail.
- Add the six cups of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is moistened. It should look like shaggy dough when you’re done. It will not be a smooth like regular bread dough and it will be quite sticky.
- Cover dough lid (don’t put it on tightly) or plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for two hours. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
- Cut off about a third of the dough and shape into a ball on a well floured counter. Place on a baking sheet that has been well sprinkled with cornmeal. The whole sheet doesn’t have to be covered with cornmeal, just an area a little larger than the dough ball. Be sure the top is well covered with flour.
- Let rise for 40 to 50 minutes on the counter. Slice the top two or three times.
- Begin preheating the oven to 450 degrees F about 20 minutes before it is time to bake the bread. Place a broiler pan on the floor of a gas oven, or on the bottom rack of an electric oven.
- When the oven is hot, place the bread on the rack above the pan and then immediately throw a cup of hot water into the pan. Close the oven quickly. Bake for 20 minutes and then reduce the oven to 400 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.
Notes: This bread dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It just gets to be more of a sourdough as it ages. There is no need to wash the container between batches. This recipe can also be doubled if you have a big enough container. A little wetter dough will give a different but still delicious result, as will slightly heavier dough.
Experiment and have fun!
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