There is an old Italian saying: We bring Ciabatta and salt whenever we’re invited to a house-warming party! This fresh Italian bread is probably the most popular bread in Italy! It is so tasty and it goes perfectly with everything! Here is the recipe:
Servings 3 loaves
- 400 ml/ 14 fl oz. lukewarm water
- 4 tablespoons lukewarm low-fat milk
- 675 grams/1 lb 8 oz. strong white flour
- 1 sachet easy-blend dried yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
To make the biga:
- 450 grams/ 1 lb strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 ¼ teaspoon easy-blend dried yeast
- 125 ml/ 4 fl oz. lukewarm water
- First, make the biga. Sift the flour into a bowl, stir in the yeast and make a well in the center. Pour in the water and stir until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball, put it into a bowl and put the bowl into a polythene bag or cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 12 hours, until just beginning to collapse.
- Gradually mix the water and milk into the biga, beating with a wooden spoon. Gradually mix in the flour and yeast with your hands, adding them a little at a time. Finally, mix in the salt and oil with your hands. The dough will be very wet; do not add extra flour. Put the bowl into a polythene bag or cover with a damp tea towel and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for around 2 hours, until doubled in volume.
- Dust 3 baking sheets with flour. Using a spatula, divide the dough between the prepared baking sheets without knocking out the air. With lightly floured hands, gently pull ad shape each piece of dough into a rectangular loaf, then flatten slightly. Dust the tops of the loaves with flour and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Bake the loaves in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the base with your knuckles. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
- Slice and serve.