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Old 03-04-2003, 09:33 PM   #1
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Ciabatta - What is it, really?

Having first heard of this Italian bread here, I have been quite curious as to its attraction. All of the many differing recipes call for flour, yeast, water, salt, and olive oil. Some also add milk. Beyond that, the differences seem to be in the method of perparation.

I am having a hard time discerning how these differences in preparation have much of an effect on the final flavor, although I can understand considerable differences in textures of both the inside and the crust.

A very enlightening - and thoroughly confusing - site detailing "Slipper Bread"
http://home.earthlink.net/~ggda/ciabatta.htm

One thing aboout it that really confuses me: it is, at best, a relatively "primitive" - perhaps you prefer "rustic"? - bread, so I am baffled that peasant bakers would have gone to so much trouble to make it. I wonder if modern professional bakers, etc., have not embellished the "original" recipe and method to lend added mystique to the product. Just an old coot's ingrained skepticism.

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Old 03-06-2003, 04:24 PM   #2
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I TIED IT - VERY DISAPPOINTING

O.K. I tried one of the Ciabatta recipes - flour, yeast, water, olive oil, & salt. Started with a "Biga" yesterday and let it rise until this morning. Then proceded pretty much normally, making a wet, sticky dough. Turned it out on a heavily floured board, and stretched and folded, instead of kneading. Then let it rise, and baked it.

The flavor was nothing exciting: actually, it seemed to have a slightly stale undertone - dunno why.
Started a pot of minestrone at the same time I started the ciabatta, so I could give it a fair test. The minestrone was great. So was the chianti.

I'm gonna forget the ciabatta, however.

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Old 03-06-2003, 06:28 PM   #3
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I hate to hear your results were less than expected. But at least you have tried it. Your soup looks great and so does the chianti!! BUT, the ciabatta "looks" great too! LOL
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Old 08-06-2003, 03:16 PM   #4
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ciabatta is traditionaly a peasant bread. its very bland and plain, and has that 'stale taste' that i think oldcoot described. anyway, its just one of those good crusty breads to tear up and dunk in your soup, or make into a fat sandwich. its quite good toasted.
my mum used to make this soup called pappa di pomedoro (pardon my italian...) which was essential, if you can image, a soup version of tomato basil pasta sauce. a thick fresh tomato soup, chunky and full of fresh herbs. she used to use old ciabatta, which my dad used to by on sunday morning, to make dumplings. shed decrust the bread and cut it into big chunks and add it the the boiling pot of soup towards the end.
its very filling and really yum. again, peasant food. gosh, i sound like an old italian woman reminiscing about my past in the old country.... whod ever beleive i was a 19 yr old jewish girl from australia...
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Old 08-06-2003, 03:47 PM   #5
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esther - you crack me up!!!! LOL Sometimes when I describe things I feel the same way!! When my son puts a towel on his head like ladies used to wear scraves I swear he looks just like my Hungarian grandmother. The soup sounds wonderful - I am a huge fan of ciabatta - I love to grill it.
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Old 08-06-2003, 03:50 PM   #6
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wow, grilled ciabatta? what do you put on it? cool, anyway, happy to have made you happy. take care
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Old 08-07-2003, 10:37 AM   #7
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Hi esther,

That above response came from me - I have to log on everytime and sometimes I forget :oops:

When I grill the ciabatta I just rub a cut clove of garlic on one side, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil or brush on and sometimes I will sprinkle with some kosher salt, sometimes not. (If I'm doing a bruschetta I will grill on both sides though).

My husband and I will sit outside while a pan of mushrooms sautees on the grill (garlic, red wine, salt, basil, oregano) and when they are almost done I'll grill the bread - usually just on one side, sometimes on both.

Another favorite to have is a grilled salad - take a large dinner plate or equivalent and drizzle with a good amount of olive oil, sprnkling of kosher salt, and some fresh ground pepper - then cut a head of romaine in half (keeping end intact so it doesn't fall apaprt - and rub in the olive oil mixture (heavier on the cut side though) - place on grill until you get some grill marks on the cut side and then lightly grill on the uncut side. Be careful not to cook too long on cut side or that wonderful nutty flavor the grilling gives it will quickly turn nasty. I like to just see some grill marks before I turn. Toss on some feta cheese (or blue), roma tomatoes, basil chiffonade, drizzle with some balsamic and if needed, more olive oil. The grilled bread goes really well with this along with a nice hearty red wine.
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Old 08-07-2003, 10:42 AM   #8
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sounds awesome! got to try that sometime...
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