4-H Ciabatta Bread

This is an Italian bread for Foods with an International Flavor. For a picture see #3 in the 4-H Food Show post.The recipe begins with a sponge which is made 12-24 hours before making the bread.

For Sponge:

1/8 tsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. water (105-115 degrees F)
1/3 c. room-temp water
1 c. bread flour

Stir together water and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes, until creamy. Transfer yeast mixture to another bowl and add room-temp water and flour. Stir for 4 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand at cool room temp at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

For Bread:

1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. warm milk (105-115 degrees F)
2/3 c. room-temp water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 c. bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Stir together yeast and milk in small bowl and let stand 5 minutes until creamy. With mixer dough hook, blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil and flour at low speed until flour is moistened. Beat on medium for 3 minutes. Add salt and beat for 4 more minutes. Scrape dough into oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. NOTE: dough will be very stick and full of bubbles.

Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper, approximately 12″ by 6″. Place on baking sheet and flour well. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to paper and form irregular ovals approximately 9″ long. Dip fingers in flour and dimple loaves. Dust tops with flour.

Cover with dampened kitchen towel and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until almost doubled. At least 45 minutes before baking bread, pre-heat pizza stone on lowest oven rack position at 425 degrees. Transfer 1 loaf, along with parchment paper, onto stone and bake for 20 minutes or until pale golden. Remove to cooling racks and repeat with second loaf.

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