I have a lovely Italian friend who cooked a delicious meal for us on Saturday night. Bruschetta, cheesy garlic bread, breaded mozzarella and spinach & ricotta cannelloni all featured. Mouthwatering and all amongst my favourite things to eat. Bruschetta though is something which I adore, especially when abroad and you can taste the sun off the tomatoes. I thought that I would try a home made version of the ciabatta bread instead of buying a shop bought one and I was thrilled with the result! Crisp exterior and gorgeous airy chewy interior. Perfecto! You need to make a starter the night before making this one or a “biga” as they call it in Italy. Apparently this gives the bread depth of flavour so well worth taking this extra step.
125g strong flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp caster sugar
150ml lukewarm water
Mix all of the above into a batter and leave in a bowl covered, overnight. In the morning add
2tbsp olive oil
375g strong flour
1tsp caster sugar
250ml lukewarm water
Few handfuls of semolina to sprinkle on tray & over bread
Hint: I used 1/2tsp of a 7g sachet of dried yeast for the biga and the remainder for the next morning.
Mix all the ingredients into a thick batter, cover once again and leave for two hours.
Flour your hands and use to pull gently from sides of bowl. Place the sticky dough on a baking sheet which you have oiled and sprinkled generously with semolina.
Stretch gently into a rectangular shape, sprinkle with semolina and allow to rise uncovered for 45 minutes.
Put into a preheated 220 degree oven for 20 minutes or until it sounds hollow when bottom is tapped.
Cool on a wire rack if you can manage to resist a slice or two or three…..
I served mine with my version of bruschetta comprising of a few chopped cherry tomatoes, minced garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle a little oil on the sliced bread before topping with the tomato mixture. So tasty and vibrant! Enjoy!