We all have our little victories and for me it’s getting holes in bread. “Easy!” you say, “Just poke your finger in there!” But were it that simple. My recent problems with ciabatta led me to think my dough was too wet. Think of this: my dough was like pancake batter and when that runny wet batter hits a scalding hot baking stone the air bubbles flee to the top like cockroaches from a flashlight beam, then join together and inflate the bread into a pillow. One big hole in bread isn’t good unless you’re making pita.
So I cranked up the oven to five hundred, made my dough a little less wet, and ended up with this:
Beautiful ciabatta with evenly dispersed bubbles, perfect for holding little ponds of herbed olive oil. Here’s the really cool thing: I poured this dough straight from the mixing bowl. If you go over to the no-knead ciabatta page now you’ll see my updated directions. I made a second loaf after this, proofed for an hour and flipped upside-down like the original directions dictated. I found no difference in taste or structure, and the additional hassle of flipping runny dough upside-down means you have to bury it in flour, which doesn’t let the crust brown up well. What’s the punchline? You can make ciabatta just like this with no kneading and hardly any mixing. Time does the work for you. Please check out the new recipe and try it for yourself. I promise it really works this time.
This weekend was about much more than bread, and I’ll get to that later in the week when I sort through the mountains of pictures. In short, Toddler Harbat turned three and we spent two days cleaning, three hours taking pictures, and five seconds sitting down. But we’ll cover that another day.
My final thought is on Anthropologie. No, it’s not a misspelling of the study of culture, it’s the clothing/home goods/lifestyle company whose catalogs may clog your mailbox. I went into (was dragged by my wife) one of the stores a few years ago and quickly realized it was all about mood. The store was made up like a Victorian-era conservatory that’s fallen into disrepair. Leaves were scattered on the floor, glass cloches held decaying moss figures, and weathered wood what-nots lay jumbled in a corner. I expected a young Miss Haversham to waft through the store in moth-eaten ballet slippers ($179) and a water-stained lace wedding veil ($480, limited-time offer) dropping dried flower petals and sighing. The catalog is even more so—it’s a mood purveyor first, retailer second. This time they’ve got mopey-looking stick figurines wandering the altiplano and horseback riding in stocky 1920s heels and complicated neck wraps. The shoes pages showed the products scattered across a wet cobblestone street, with some of the shoes on their side in a puddle as if they just fell out the back of a truck. Bravo, Anthropolgie! Somehow you’ve made shoes depressing!