The original recipe was called One Minute Ciabatta* Bread, but the baker I cover for on his days off from the Hudson Valley Dessert Company is furious for my insistence that this is ciabatta bread. I don’t insist that it is (in fact, it very much isn’t) but I was calling it that because that is the name of the recipe. Apparently, that correctness is unacceptable to him. So, whatever you do, don’t call this ciabatta bread in front of a baker! (He’s the same way about my “Best Minestrone Soup” recipe, so now I call that “Vegetable”. Bakers can be so temperamental!)
Anyway, if you have ever baked ciabatta bread, you know that there is a long rising period
for a starter, about 8-12 hours. Then that gets incorporated into more flour to create a loaf with an almost sour-dough taste, crusty, and with a delightful crumb. This recipe basically adds all the flour to the starter up front and then bakes it after it has risen. The author claims that with practice you can measure and mix your dough in less than a minute – hence the name minute bread for a loaf of bread that takes 12 hours to make!
2 cups warm water
¼ tsp yeast
4 cups flour
1 heaping tsp salt
Dissolve yeast in the water in your mixing bowl. Combine the flour and salt and stir into the liquid completely until a moist dough results. Cover with a warm damp cloth and forget about it. Go to work, or bed – whatever. When you return 8-12 hours later the dough will have risen. (I’ve let it rise for as long as 16 hours with no problems.) Using a spoon (or a spatula sprayed with Pam) and disturbing the dough as little as possible, slide it onto a baking pan sprinkled with corn meal. Sprinkle the bread with your favorite herbs, then “pop” into a preheated 400 degree oven. Check it in 25 minutes or so. Take it out of the oven when it reaches the color you like, it should be done. Cool on a wire rack. Don’t try to cut it for at least 10 minutes, or it will collapse. That’s it!
Of course there’s more. Every recipe I have gets “tweaked” a bit. I’ve added chopped kalamata olives at the start and let it rise a few hours longer for a delightful olive loaf. (I’ll try onions next!) I’ve even been known to divide the dough in the beginning and let two loaves rise. By using two different toppings, or adding olives to one, I have two different small loaves of bread instead of one big one. Otherwise, before sprinkling on the herbs, I drizzle the dough with a homemade red Galician oil to insure a great color and flavor. The bread doesn’t get very brown without it.
This is a versatile and forgiving recipe that produces bread with a depth of flavor that everyone seems to love. It results in a 4 inch high loaf about 14 inches long that can last several days on the counter, if someone doesn’t devour it first.
Just don’t call it ciabatta!
*ciabatta bread is known as slipper bread because of the shape of the loaves. Minute bread is higher, more like a traditional loaf, and is an excellent sandwich bread.