Thursday, September 13, 2012

Parmesan Ciabatta Bread

Things I'm loving right now:

1. The start of the school year and new and exciting seminars. I can't tell you how pumped about science I get after I listen to a good seminar. I love listening to people talk about what they have done and what they are doing to try to understand a particular problem. Even when it is in a field that I don't know particularly well, if the speaker is good, I'm hooked and enthused about their work. Talk about rejuvenation. It just reminds me of how much I belong in the world of academics.

2. Peaches and nectarines. And how they have been on sale for like the past month.

3. Mini Premium Saltine Crackers. I think this is because I normally buy off-brand, low-fat, low-sodium saltines, but these are only made by Premium and full of salt and fat (not that they are particularly bad for you). I'm not kidding you when I say I ate any entire box over the course of 3 days when I was sick. And then I bought another box, and I'm almost done with that one too.

4. Black polish on my toenails. It makes me happy, okay?

5. Fall in the midwest. I love that it gets cool at night, but is still sunny and warm during the day. It makes me want to be a creep-o at a high school football game on a Friday night. Or don my old pom uniform to cheer the team on.

6. Freshly baked bread. Especially this perfection of parmesan ciabatta bread. I finished the bread late (read: 10:00 pm) on a Sunday night and still I scarfed down two hot from the oven pieces before I went to bed. I sliced and froze one of the loaves, but the other didn't even last the week. I ate it breakfast, lunch and dinner. And boy, was it good. Plus, I got to knock another thing off that cooking bucket list of mine.

I wish you could smell this through the screen. 
Just look at that delicious cheese... yum...

Parmesan Ciabatta Bread (adapted from Annie's Eats)
For the overnight starter:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
0.25 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water
1/8 tsp dry active yeast

For the dough:
All of the starter
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
0.5 cup warm water
1.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp dry active yeast
4 oz parmesan cheese, cut into 1/4 in cubes

For the starter, combine the warm water with the dry active yeast in a medium bowl. Once it is foamy, add the flours and stir well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and allow at room temperature for 12-20 hours until bubbly.

Combine the water and yeast and allow to get foamy. Using your food processor (or stand mixer) equipped with the dough blade, combine the starter, flour, water with yeast and salt. Pulse and knead on a low speed for 6-8 minutes until the dough is soft and slightly sticky. Add additional water or flour as necessary. Remove the dough from the food processor and knead in the cheese using your hands.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow to rise for 1-2 hours until very puffy.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Form each half into a loaf (mine were about 10 X 5 inches). Place the loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spray the top of the loaves with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 45 minutes until they are puffy again (I found they didn't get quite as puffy at this stage).

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes until the bread is golden. Remove the loaves and let cool.

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