Friday, August 9, 2013

The Italian Mama Visits With Delicious Ciabatta Bread and a Recipe

 Today, cookbook author Shannon Smurthwaite shares with us a little about her journey back through her Italian heritage and how she came by a delicious Ciabatta bread recipe she gives to our readers!
You can see my review of her cookbook and more about the recipes here
This bread looks absolutely scrumptious! Thank you Shannon!
Shannon says:
"This has been a tender journey. After my mother’s death in 2008 I was encouraged to gather her recipes and those of my tiny grandmother from Naples. Collecting this comfort food I was raised on in our Italian- American family, was not an easy task. Simply put, Italians do not write down their recipes. Both of these amazing women in my life were incredible cooks and known well for their kitchen wizardry. I can rarely remember a cookbook or recipe card in front of them. They instinctively knew what to add, when their creative dish was completed and ready to serve. How does one pass this ability down through the generations that follow? With sweetness these recipes started falling into my lap not even aware they had ever been written down. I knew they needed to be preserved as requested by friends and family. In my pursuit, I realized my dear Italian friends felt the same way- and they shared their family recipes with me. Each recipe has a story. Each was given with love.

Raised by her very Roman Catholic parents, my mother was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 19. I had the blessing of uniting two worlds. It was one polar opposite world in our kitchen. Pasta e fagioli on one side of the spectrum and green jello delight on the other (taught to us by her new Sisters in the gospel).

The recipe I have chosen to share with you is a yummy, cost effective Ciabatta bread. Six ingredients, no doubt, at your fingertips. You could easily pay up to $5.00 a loaf at a specialty bakery, but you can assemble it with ease in your bread machine ( using the “dough” cycle), in your Kitchen Aide, or even hand mixed at a cost to you of about .45 cents a lovely loaf. This bread really soaks up the sauce. Pair it with a pasta dish or soup. Also great for dipping into oils ( olive, grape seed) and vinegars. You can get creative and toss in shredded cheese or herbs in the mixing process. Experiment! I happily share this with you."

Shannon M. Smurthwaite, author: Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook

Recipes from Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook
              Shannon M. Smurthwaite, author                          
CIABATTA BREAD ~ using Bread Machine for dough mixing                              
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoons salt (I use fine sea salt)
1 generous teaspoon white sugar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 1/4 cup good bread flour
1 ½ generous teaspoons SAF yeast (or any good bread machine yeast)

In the order above, place ingredients in Bread Machine. Use DOUGH cycle and start. My bread machine runs the dough cycle about 90 min.
Dough will be sticky when cycle is complete. Resist the temptation to add more flour. Place dough on a lightly floured board and let rest for 15- 20 minutes.
Lightly flour or use parchment to line your baking sheet.
(You could sprinkle a little corn meal on the bottom)
Form a flat rectangle with the dough; (or you could divide dough in 2 equal pieces for 2 smaller rectangles) place dough on prepare baking sheet.
Dimple surface and lightly flour the tops (dimpling is important, because you want the air bubbles to pop-careful not press all the way through to the bottom of dough).
Cover, let rise in a draft free location. Rising time varies with altitude, flour type, etc. 50 minutes ~ 90 minutes should do it.

Preheat oven 425.
After the first rising, dimple dough a second time.
Again, baking time varies depending on your oven, but 20-25 minutes is the suggested duration.
Use the middle rack. * Drizzle with olive oil while cooling

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