No matter how many bread recipes I make successfully, I still continue to get a huge kick out of watching the dough rise and having so few ingredients become a delicious loaf of bread.  This bread turned out very well, with a nice crust and a soft interior dotted with delicious pockets of melted cheese.  Unfortunately I do think that the recent frigid temperatures and my consequently chilly house affected the rising of the sponge.  The interior of the bread did not have as many air pockets as I expected, but it was soft and delicious nonetheless.  So far I have eaten it alongside pasta, toasted and dipped into hummus, and we plan to have it with soup for dinner tonight.  I also think it would be great sliced lengthwise for a sandwich.  This would be fantastic with any number of cheeses, but Ben loves all things with Asiago cheese so I think I will try that next time.


Recipe Rewind: tried and true favorites I’ve made recently
Pot Roast – perfect for a chilly evening at home

Parmesan Ciabatta
For the biga (starter):
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat, pumpernickel or rye flour
1 cup warm water
1/8 tsp. instant yeast

For the dough:
all of the starter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
4-5 oz. Parmesan (or other) cheese, cut into 1/4-inch dice, plus extra for grating over the top

To make the biga, combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix until well blended.  Cover the bowl, and leave it at cool room temperature (68-70 degrees F) for 12-20 hours, until the biga is very bubbly.

To make the dough, mix the biga and the remaining dough ingredients except the cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed just until a dough begins to form.  Switch to the dough hook and continue kneading on low speed for 6-8 minutes, until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.  Add additional water or flour as necessary, a tablespoon at a time.  Mix in the cheese; don’t worry if some pieces pop out.  Transfer to a lightly greased bowl and allow the dough to rise for 1-2 hours, until very puffy.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and shape it into two long loaves, about 12 x 4 inches each.  Place the loaves onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Cover the loaves with well-greased plastic wrap and allow them to rise for 45 minutes or until they are very puffy.  Sprinkle with additional grated cheese.

Bake in an oven preheated to 450 degrees F for 22-26 minutes, until the tops of the loaves are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Source: adapted from Amber’s Delectable Delights