Saturday, May 30, 2009

Foot fetish

Putting aside the slight set back with the rye starter (complete and utter failure would be more accurate but that undermines the inspiration a bit too much) I decided to try my hand at ciabatta: Italian slipper bread, so named, apparently, because the loaves resemble footwear (?)

I followed an excellent recipe on Mike Avery's hugely useful (and, indeed, hugely huge) Sourdough Home web site. I really enjoy Mike's writing style: it's encouraging and it cleverly manages to provide plenty of detail without being intimidating or overly technical.

I won't bother describing all of the steps. If you're interested you can consult Mike's recipe which I followed closely, apart from choosing to leave out the sun-dried tomatoes that he adds to the dough.

I did an extremely poor job of transferring the risen dough from bowl to baking sheet, ending up with oddly shaped things that, while very rustic, didn't look much like slippers to me... more like deflated giant sea cucumbers. But, after the final short proving, I bunged them into the oven and hoped for the best.

And here is the result...

One doesn't like to blow one's trumpet, but I venture to suggest that if Jamie Oliver or Antonio Carluccio had just whipped these out of the oven they would be well pleased. I couldn't believe how nicely they turned out.

As for the name: slippers doesn't even begin to describe how absolutely luscious and perfect in hand and mouth this bread is. Say ciabatta but think sesso e fantasia !

Try Mike's recipe for yourself, you'll love it.

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