Homemade Ciabatta

Oh boy, things have finally settled around here in Pensacola. We made a long awaited trip to Atlanta to visit my friends from New Jersey. By long awaited, I mean over 1 year of failing to go. Life of the military, I suppose.

If you haven’t been to that city, GO. There’s just so much to do. Tons of bars, restaurants, and Waffle Houses. Which, by the way, I tried for the first time and well…it wasn’t all that great. Anyway, Atlanta is filled with amazing food. We went to Fox Bros. BBQ the first day and dear god, was it good. Perfectly smoked brisket and the most amazing mac n cheese. And an abundance of sweet tea.

I also learned to play bocce ball. I was horrible at it. Not surprising. Oh! And I tried Frito Pie for the first time. It was suspiciously amazing. If you don’t know what it is, it’s basically a bag of Fritos with chili, lettuce, and cheese (I think?) and the combination is amazing. And I can’t stand Fritos, by the way.

But now, we’re finally back in Pensacola back to our old routine. The weather has finally cooled down, which means it’s about 92 degrees plus humidity everyday. Trust me, it’s better than what it was a few days ago.

So back to food. With the wedding coming up, I have not followed my plan to eat less bread. At all. In any sense. Just nope. I’d rather not.

Bread making used to scare me. I’m still not a pro at it, but being able to make edible bread makes me happy. It just gets better with practice. A lot of it. Bread is just as temperamental as a teenage girl; you just never know what you’re going to have to deal with and what will happen at the end.
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I have to say, having the right yeast is everything. I’m literally having my dad ship me yeast from New Jersey because I’ve run out already. The Fleischmann’s yeast found in all groceries just doesn’t do it for me. That notoriously yellow and red package scares me. Maybe it’s just a mental thing, but I find that my bread turns out so much softer and chewy with Dr. Oetker’s yeast.

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Anyway, this bread was made with the same ingredients and method as my focaccia bread. So if you’ve got the basic ingredients, bake away!

Ingredients:

1 cup hot water
1 package instant yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons salt
3-4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine water, yeast, salt, honey, and olive oil in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
2. Gradually add your flour, while mixing with a spatula. Add until mixture is a shaggy ball of dough and no longer sticking to the bowl.
3. Turn onto a clean counter with extra flour and start kneading. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Place your dough into an oiled bowl (I use the same bowl as before). Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
5. Once risen, turn the dough out onto a floured sheet of parchment paper. Shape it into a large rectangle (about 1″ thick) and cover. Let rise again for another hour.
6. Preheat your oven and cast iron pan to 500 degrees F.
7. With a pastry cutter, cut your dough into squares, about 6″x6″. Or you can leave the dough whole.
8. Transfer the parchment and dough onto your heated pan. (It helps to have it already on a large cutting board or pizza peel so it’s easy to slide off without ruining the dough.)
9. Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.
10. Enjoy with pasta or make sandwiches!

I won’t lie, these didn’t turn out as poofy as I wanted them. Just make sure not to shape the dough too flat!

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