A lot of times I feel like I have very little to give when it comes to holidays. I like to give home made gifts, and sometimes they take a lot of thinking about before I come up with something. The Pres is such a thoughtful gift giver. Even right before Valentines' week, I had come up with nothing. It goes without saying I always want to make a card, but what else? I finally thought of reuben sandwiches, which are one of the Pres' favorite things that I almost never make.
This year, part of my Valentine to the Pres and Fidget was ciabatta bread. This word ciabatta comes from the Italian for slipper. So sometimes we call it slipper bread. But the taste is far from shoe-like. And it would be perfect for showcasing the special taste of reubens.
The biga, or starter, has to be prepared a day in advance. It is in the green milk glass bowl, above. It has to be added bit by bit to the ciabatta dough in the mixer. While it takes almost half an hour to add, it makes a wonderfully complex taste, like sourdough. The biga and ciabatta come from this book, The Village Baker, which I highly recommend.
After a little while the dough rose and bubbled like a science experiment. Bread is so exciting!
I wish this had smell-o-vision. There's nothing like the aroma of bread dough, especially the tang of an artisan bread dough.
This recipe makes four loaves, plenty to keep and share. You also have the option while at this stage, of saving some for grissini, that is, Turinese Breadsticks, but I can never make myself do it.
Naturally I forgot to take photos of the reubens on Valentine's Day. These loaves were enough for reubens, as well as served another night with butter and my sister in law's wonderful spiced lentil soup. One morning Fidget had the bread with honey butter for breakfast. And I brought some soup and bread to two friends. I love it when baking works out and there's plenty to share.