Ciabatta al Funghi

I have had problems pronouncing ciabatta. No matter how many times people have told me the right pronounciation, I always said it wrong the first time it comes out of my mouth. I always wanted to pronounce the “i”–saying chee-a-bah-tah instead of cha-bah-tah.

One of the bonus benefits of baking along with a group like The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is tweeting about our bread. I’ve previously mentioned learning how to spell international words and I can now proudly announce that I can correctly pronounce ciabatta. By tweeting so much about it, I’ve said it in my head so many times. Practice makes perfect.

Last September I made the poolish version of ciabatta out of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. You can see it HERE. I hesitated linking to my post about it. A lot has changed in a year. One is that my ciabatta now has holes! Not big massive holes, but there are holes. The other, as you know, is I will not be celebrating my anniversary this year. And if I want to get metaphorical like I did with my previous attempt at ciabatta, there were things obviously wrong with both my ciabatta and my marriage.

Back to the bread…this time around I decided to make the biga version and the Wild Mushroom (Ciabatta al Funghi) variation. This variation uses a mix of dried and fresh mushrooms. For the dried mushrooms, I used Trader Joe’s Mixed Wild Mushroom Medley which has: porcini, shiitake, black, and oyster mushrooms. I used cremini mushrooms for the fresh. The formula says to use a pound, but when I went shopping I mistakenly only bought a half a pound.

The dried mushrooms are rehydrated and added during the dough mixing-phase and the fresh mushrooms are sautéd with garlic in olive oil and added during the two stretch-and-fold turns.

Instead of shaping standard-sized ciabatta, I made twelve mini-ciabatta. The bread is incredibly creamy. It melts in my mouth. Every other bite, I’m hit with the taste of garlic. The bread tastes great plain, but it also makes a wonderful sandwich.

Anniversary Ciabatta

Recipe #250

Today is our 6-year wedding anniversary. As I was preparing this post I realized that ciabatta, or bread in general, is a good metaphor for marriage. Bread is a perfect union of ingredients that come together and create something  better than the individual components. Flour, yeast, salt, and water (and in this case a little bit of olive oil) come together and form bread. Not only that, but to create tasty bread with every bit of flavor coaxed out of those simple ingredients you need lots of patience and work. In bread-making, the patience comes in the form of allowing adequate fermentation time and once the dough is formed, allowing time for it to relax. The work is obviously the kneading, but also measuring and weighing the ingredients and creating your mise en place.

I’ve been making Caprese sandwiches, caprese salads all summer long. Looking at the picture above, I’m thinking that perfect union of basil, tomato, and fresh mozzarella is another good metaphor for marriage… 😛

Happy Anniversary, Honey! I love you.