Biga Starter / Ciabatta Bread
---- For the Biga starter: ----
---- For the Ciabatta:
Note: The above ingredients make 8 loaves, which is a lot; the bread freezes well double wrapped. The recipe can be halved.
To make the starter --
To make the Ciabatta
Knead by hand on a floured board for a few minutes until the dough is soft and supple. Add as little flour as possible during kneading. The end result will not feel like your usual bread dough. It will be very stringy, moist, and supple. Put it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/4 hours).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and cut into 8 pieces. Pull each piece gently into a rectangle about 8" long and 1/2 inch thick. Roll each one up the long way and put each piece on a well floured piece of parchment paper, with the seam from rolling the dough on top. Cover with damp towel and let rise until doubled in bulk (or a little longer -- about 2 hours). (They will rise further in the oven.)
Preheat oven with baking stone or tile in place to 425 F for at least half an hour. Sprinkle corn meal on baking stone and invert each loaf onto the tile, removing the parchment paper. Bake for 20 -30 minutes, spraying the oven with water every three minutes for the first 9 minutes. Cool on a rack and enjoy!