Until about a year ago, I had never really used yeast for making bread. Now I’ll try anything and everything yeasty just to have the experience and learn different techniques. We’ve made baguettes, babkas, challahs, bagels, donuts, chelsea buns and more, but we hadn’t tried making Italian bread before this one. It took a lot of time but it did come out crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside, as expected.
This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.
Ingredients ($1 total for 1 loaf)
1/4 tsp active dry yeast – $0.05
1 tsp sugar – $0.02
1 cup hottest tap water + 1 cup room temperature water – free
1 1/2 cups + 2 3/4 cups flour – $0.68
1 1/2 tsp salt – $0.07
1/2 tsp olive oil – $0.03
1. Mix the yeast, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 cup hottest tap water in a small bowl. Stir briefly and let sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast and form a thin foam (there’s so little yeast that it won’t be a thick foam). Then mix in the 1 1/2 cups of flour and stir well until all combined. Cover with cling wrap and put in the fridge overnight, up to 24 hours.
The next day, add the room temperature water and transfer the dough to a larger bowl. Add in the 2 3/4 cups of flour and the salt, and mix/knead with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes, until the dough comes together and separates from the side of the bowl. It will be very sticky and wet, but don’t add more flour.
2. Spread the olive oil around the inside of another bowl and transfer the dough to this bowl. Cover with cling wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 45 minutes. Then gently fold the dough over onto itself using an oiled spatula, and rise for another 45 minutes. Repeat one more time, for a total of three 45-minute rises. It won’t double in size, but it will get nice and soft and marshmallowy by the end.
Once the three rises are done, generously flour a piece of parchment paper and tip the dough out onto it. Handle the dough as little as possible. Dust the top of the dough with flour too and gently shape into your desired loaf shape. Let it rise at room temperature for 20 more minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 450F and put a pizza pan or baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven. Spray the loaf gently with water. Once the oven is up to temperature, open the oven door and carefully pick up the parchment to transfer it to the preheated pan in the oven. Spray twice more in the first five minutes of cooking, and let it bake for about 27-30 minutes until it’s a nice golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, then slice with a serrated knife, making sure not to press down on the top of the bread. Enjoy your ciabatta plain, with butter, as a sandwich, or with dinner.
Sustainability Score (explained here)
- Time to make: 1 = 3+ hours
- Servings: 3 = >6 servings
- Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
- Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
- Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
- Nutritional value: 1 = eat rarely (refined white flour)
- TOTAL: 14/18
If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!