The Grass Isn’t Greener, It’s Just Different

I am not crawling back to Team USA ciabatta, though I know it has its good points.  The no-knead easy-peasy ciabatta I made last night was…good.  My wife said it was as good or even better than the Team USA ciabatta.  I’m not sure I agree with that but it’s a stunning outcome to what I thought would be another failed diversion from a tried and true recipe.  After 18 hours of room-temperature ferment, here’s what the dough looked like:

After a few turns with a spatula, I could see how well the gluten had formed on its own.  Sure enough, no kneading required!

It felt like it was slightly less wet than the Team USA ciabatta but still pooled on the parchment for its final 2-hour proof.

One odd thing about the bake:  I couldn’t get it to brown nearly as much as the Team USA ciabatta.  Maybe it’s because the long warm ferment let the yeast eat up more of the sugars that cause browning.  I also couldn’t get the crust to crisp up even with high temps and the oven door open.  I got none of the crackling I get with my other breads.  But it came out surprisingly well with open structure and webbing, satisfying chewy (if not crispy) crust, and good flavor.

I’d say the Team USA ciabatta has better flavor, crust, and color, but it requires much more work including a poolish made the night before, and several hours of mixing.  With this recipe you can mix up the ingredients in a bowl before you go to bed and the next day all you have to do is pour it out onto parchment, proof for 2 hours, and bake it.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.

With so much free time liberated from baking, I spent yesterday making a garden vegetable cheese frittata with Toddler Harbat.  She helped me with the chopped zucchini and eggplant, she picked herbs, mixed in (and sampled) the cheese, added a tiny fistful of salt, and poured eggs over the top after I sautéed the veggies in olive oil.  It came out, well, take a look:

It tasted really, really good.  Unfortunately TH was in a “mood” and wouldn’t take one bite of her food, making this dinner #2 of food refusal.  To be fair, the other dinner was wild Coho salmon in a caper and butter white wine sauce with a side of wilted spinach.  Hey, I’m trying to get her palate seasoned early on.  This kid ain’t gonna eat mac ‘n cheese until she’s in her forties.

And let me tell you how much fun it is to deal with a tired and hungry two-year old who won’t eat dinner and resists EVERYTHING.  FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU[beep]

Sorry about that.  I learned a very important lesson in the last two days of TH’s terrible twos:  hate is a fire.  When you want to give into hate you are feeding it and it flares up.  Getting angry at TH and trying to force her to eat dinner makes her resist more and makes my wife and I even angrier.  So last night she spit out the frittata we made together, I slammed my hand on the table, and we all huffed and puffed until bedtime.

And thus ended June.  I’m thinking July is going to be smooth sailing.  Until I try to feed chateaubriand with haricots verts in brown sauce to Toddler Harbat and she throws it at the wall.  Then I will possibly say a four-letter word.  Or I’ll find a way to throw water on the fire of my anger.

1 comment
  1. Babs said:

    Mac N’ Cheese anyone?? Just remember…she won’t starve. I’ll take her portion of that frittata and some ciabatta bread please.

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