I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this earlier: no-knead undead ciabatta dough poured into a loaf pan to make strong and holey sandwich bread. This weekend I was feeling lazy and uninspired to make the same wheat sandwich I’ve been baking for months. I wanted a stronger sandwich bread, something that could hold up to aggressive buttering and rolling up to use as a hotdog bun, after extreme fussiness from CH when a bun could not be procured for her hot dog.
Alright, since Uncle F$#k-Up was doing this job, it isn’t a question of whether something went wrong, it’s what went wrong first. Well. Mixing up a quadruple batch of very wet batter-like dough with almost five pounds of flour is pretty tough in a big vessel by hand, especially since it won’t be kneaded and you don’t want unmixed clumps of flour in your bread. But that was easy. After a mere seven hours of proofing the dough had easily doubled and was threatening to bubble out of the mixing pot. A few folds of the batter with a large spoon showed me how strong the gluten had formed and what large bubbles there were. I am continually impressed with how well this no-knead high-hydration method proves, and it’s perfect for the lazy glutton. The tricky part was portioning out the batter and pouring/scraping it into separate loaf pans. If I were an octopus with the strength of a gorilla this would have been easy. But in the future I might mix up single-loaf batches in separate bowls so I can, A)make it easier to pour, and B)preserve some of the large bubbles since I’m not faffing about with a spoon and my bare hands trying to wrestle dough from the pot to the pan.
I dusted the top with flour, gave it another 45 minutes for a second proof, then popped it in a hot oven (450 degrees) since I know this ciabatta takes a while to brown since it’s so wet. There wasn’t a lot of oven spring, but the loaf came out well and the structure has the chewiness and varied hole size of an English muffin. The smell and taste are really sweet and nutty, giving it a much better flavor than the fattened and express-proofed wheat sandwich bread. In fact, given the ease of making this, and the timing, since I can mix it on a weekend morning and bake it in the afternoon, I might make this our default sandwich bread, with several detours for sourdough and whole wheat versions. I’ll post how those varieties come out, especially if the results are disastrous.