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Ciabatta Bread

1/2 cups Plus 1 1/2 Teaspoons Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast (or 1/12 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast)
1/4 cups Room Temperature Water
1 cup Unbleached All-purpose Flour Plus Extra For Your Work Surface
1/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast (or One Heaping 1/4 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast)
1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 cups Water
Biga (from Above)


For the dough starter (biga): In a small bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the dough starter ingredients until a smooth, cohesive dough forms. This will take about 3 minutes. Cover bowl tightly with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until tripled in size and bubbly, about 6-8 hours. (You can leave it sitting out for up to 12 hours). After rising, punch it down, then cover it and place it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or you can make it now. Remove the biga from the refrigerator about 1 hour before you mix together the dough. For the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour and yeast. Whisk in the salt. Add water and biga. Using the paddle attachment, mix everything together on low speed (#2 on the stand mixer) just until the flour is moistened. Then, increase speed to medium-high (#6 on the stand mixer) and beat 3 minutes until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Decrease speed to medium (#4 on the stand mixer) and beat another 2 minutes. The dough should be fairly wet but hold together in one long strand when you pull it with the paddle attachment. Using an oiled spatula, transfer the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until tripled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When dough is risen, generously sprinkle a countertop with flour. Using an oiled spatula, transfer the dough to the floured surface and sprinkle top of dough with flour. Use your palms to pat the sides of the dough inward to push it together slightly. Using four of your fingertips, make deep dimples in the top of the dough about 1 inch apart. Push the sides together again slightly. Carefully transfer and invert the dough onto a parchment paper or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Use your palms again to shape the dough so that it is approximately 4 1/2 inches wide, 10 to 11 inches long and 1 inch tall. Sprinkle top with more flour, then cover it lightly with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until about 1 1/2 inches tall, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. About 30 minutes before baking, prep oven. Place an oven rack on the lowest level and another one just above it. Place a cast-iron skillet on the lower rack and a baking sheet on the upper rack. Heat oven to 475 F. When dough is risen, remove plastic wrap or tea towel and gently place the baking sheet on top of the baking sheet in the oven. Pour 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the cast-iron skillet and close the door quickly. Bake loaf at 475 F for 5 minutes, then decrease oven temperature to 450 F and bake another 20 minutes, or until loaf is a deep golden brown. When loaf is done, turn off oven and prop door open slightly, leaving the loaf in the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing. Recipe adapted from The Bread Bible.

Source: tastykitchen.com