Servings: 1 loafPrep Time: several hours, depending on sponge time Cook Time: 25 minutes
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil*
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour
*The olive oil is optional, but it’s preferred for a more tender and flavorful ciabatta-style bread.
This is a Grandmother Bread recipe.
To make a sponge, place the warm water in a large bowl. Add the yeast and sugar. Let sit about 5 minutes then mix in one cup of the bread flour and the salt.
You can let it sit, covered, anywhere from two hours to overnight, the longer the better. When you’re ready to go on with the bread, add the olive oil then gradually stir in the bread flour and wheat gluten until the dough is stiff enough to knead. Knead dough until smooth and elastic–-a few minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl; cover. Let rise until more than doubled. Again, added fermentation is a good thing when you’re going for an airy bread. Let it triple if you’re busy.
Sprinkle with flour. (This is a “wet” dough and you want to handle it as little as possible. A flour dusting helps.) Punch down the dough once, then gently fold the dough into the desired shape. You can bake it in a loaf pan, or bake it free-form in a ciabatta style. If you make it free-form, it will be a flatter loaf as it will both rise and spread. If you bake it in a loaf pan, it will be contained from spreading. Either way, you can achieve a light, airy loaf.
Let rise until doubled. Bake at 350-degrees for about 25 minutes or until done (lightly browned). Let cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Submitted by: suzanne-mcminn on April 22, 2011