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- Sourdough Ciabattas
Ciabattas are light Italian loaves with usually a rather irregular shape similar to a shoe, hence the name. Turns out they’re not too difficult to make, especially if you’re familiar with wet doughs and if using a strong flour like the Caputo Manitoba. Contrary to usual bread, it does not actually need to be kneaded and if you have a good kitchen mixer making the dough is a breeze. You just need to give it time to ferment and rise slowly so as to develop a good flavour and get those sought after bubbles, making the final product really light and tasty. To develop better flavours, this recipe involves making a preferment first, a levain which is made with sourdough starter for added flavour. If you do not have this you can replace it with usual dry yeast in the suggested quantities. You could also substitute 50g of Manitoba with the same amount of Caputo Tipo Uno for added taste. This dough includes a small amount of olive oil in it which will also help in the handling of the dough. It is recommended to use a good quality olive oil as the final flavour will be better. Ingredients: For the levain: 250g Caputo Manitoba 250g Water 50g Sourdough Starter (or 2g Caputo Dry Yeast) For the main dough: 250g Caputo Manitoba 8g Fine Sea Salt 4g Caputo Dry Yeast 125g water 25g Kalamata PDO Extra Virgin olive oil Method: 1. A few hours before starting this recipe, feed your starter as you usually do. 2. In your mixer add all the ingredients for the levain and mix until this forms a smooth paste. Cover the mixer bowl with cling film and leave at room temperature for at least 2 hours. You should see some bubbles beginning to form. Place the bowl in the fridge over night until ready to continue the recipe. You can also let it develop at room temperature for around 8 hours. 3. Mix the oil and water. Add all the remaining ingredients to the mixer bowl and add most of the oil and water mixture. Mix until all the dough comes together and then slowly add the remaining water, a little at a time. Always allow the liquid to be absorbed before adding more water. Increase the speed of the mixer slightly and let it mix for at least 7 minutes. 4. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled rectangular container. Oil your hands and stretch each side of the dough and fold it over itself. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. First set of folds 5. Repeat these series of stretches and folds for a minimum of 3 times. These folds make the dough stronger so it can keep all the air inside. You will feel the dough changing with each set of folds. Second set of folds Third set of folds 6. After a final rest of 30 minutes, flour your working surface and flip the dough container upside down onto the flour. The dough should drop onto the flour easily. Generously flour the surface of the dough. 7. Carefully pick up the corners of the dough and pull to give the dough a roughly rectangular shape. Be gentle with the dough as you do not want to lose the gases inside it. 8. Use your dough scraper to cut the dough into smaller rectangles. Slide your hands under these rectangles, stretch slightly and transfer onto a sheet of baking paper. Cover with a clean tea towel. 9. While the ciabatta loaves get a final proof of around 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 240C with a baking stone or a Fast Crust plate inside and a baking tray on the lowest shelf of the oven. Boil a kettle of water. 10. Using a pizza peel transfer the loaves with the baking paper onto the hot baking stone. Add some hot water to the hot baking tray in the oven. 11. Bake for 8 minutes, then open the door for a few seconds to let out the steam. Lower the temperature of the oven to 210C and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the loaves are coloured to your liking. You might need to turn the loaves around half way through the bake for a more even cook. 12. Allow the loaves to cool on a wire rack.
- Home Baked Hot Cross Buns
Lent and Easter time in Malta is synonymous with quite a few tasty treats and none is more so than freshly baked Hot Cross Buns. Why limit yourself to just having them at Easter time though? You can leave out the cross and they’ll make delicious fruit buns to be enjoyed all year round. Our recipe can be done either with instant dry yeast or, for the more adventurous, with sourdough starter. You can also use a bit of both to obtain the taste profile which sourdough gives combined with the ease of use of dry yeast. If using a sourdough starter, remember to feed a few hours before so that it is at its maximum activity when you come to baking. Do note that actual times of dough resting and rising will vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The spice mix also depends on your preference. Feel free to change and use your favourite spices if you wish, maybe ginger or ground cloves. Ingredients for the dough: 400g Caputo Cuoco 100g Caputo Tipo 1 100g fed, active sourdough starter or 4g Caputo Dry Yeast 50g sugar 11g salt 50g soft unsalted butter 200g whole milk 100g water 1 egg 100g sultanas previously soaked in water or in the juice of an orange Zest of an orange ½ tsp ground nutmeg ½ tsp all spice 1 tsp cinnamon For the cross: 50g flour, 50g water, pinch of sugar. For the glaze: 1 tbsp marmalade, 1 tsp hot water Method: 1. In your electric mixer, add the flours, milk, water, sugar, starter (or yeast) and mix with a flat beater until everything is fully incorporated, around 3 minutes on low speed. Dough should form a relatively stiff ball. Cover and let it rest in the mixer bowl for one hour. 2. To the dough, add the lightly beaten egg, the salt, butter, the zest of one orange and the spices. Using the dough hook, mix again for a few minutes on low speed. When everything is incorporated in the dough, increase the speed slightly and mix for another 5 minutes. The dough will still be sticky and rough. Cover and let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Give the dough another brief mix for a few seconds, cover and let it rest again. After each mix and rest the dough should become smoother, stronger and less sticky. Repeat at least twice. 3. Add the drained sultanas and mix on low speed for a minute until the sultanas are incorporated into the dough. This can also be done by hand by spreading out the dough onto a workbench, sprinkling the sultanas on the dough and then folding and kneading gently until they are evenly distributed in the dough. 4. Form the dough into a tight ball (if still sticky you can dust lightly with flour), return to the bowl, cover and let it ferment for 4 to 5 hours (maybe less if using dry yeast). 5. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, cut into 12 portions (around 100g each) and roll into a tight ball similar to when you form pizza dough balls. Place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, keeping the dough balls around a finger apart from each other. The balls should form a 3 x 4 grid which will make it easier to pipe the crosses on them. Cover and let them proof again for 2 to 4 hours until they nearly double in size. They should be close to touching each other by this time. 6. Preheat the oven to 180C if fan assisted. Place an empty baking tray on the lowest shelf of the oven. Boil some water in a kettle. 7. To make the crosses, mix the flour, water and sugar into a paste and using a piping bag pipe a grid like form over all the buns. 8. Place the buns in the oven and carefully pour some hot water from the kettle onto the lower, empty baking tray. This should steam up your oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. 9. While the buns are baking, prepare the glaze by mixing the marmalade with the hot water. When the buns are ready, take them out of the oven and while still hot, use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the buns. Let the buns cool on a wire rack. 10. Enjoy warm with a good cup of tea.
- PIZZA loves BEER!
It might not be common to all traditions, but pizza and beer is definitely the perfect combination in Italian culture. Considering the beers that LORD CHAMBRAY, the independent craft brewery located on the island of Gozo, offers to our palates, we can create a number of interesting pairings for our home evenings. PIZZA MARGHERITA, simple in its ingredients and delicate, responds perfectly to the combination with a light beer, not too bitter, with delicate aromas that do not overpower the aromaticity of the dish. This is the case with the two beers GOLDEN BAY and CORAL CAVE: the first is a balanced and easily drinkable classic blonde, with a sweet hopped profile and a light bitter finish; the second a German style from Cologne, a typical session beer characterised by a herbal accent of German-grown hops and a soft bitterness. PIZZA AI SALUMI o SALSICCIA, with the presence of strong, salty flavours, a combination with a beer made from a blend of special hops and malts is recommended, with fruity hints but a bitter taste. This is the case of SAN BLAS, which fully espouses these characteristics, a full-bodied English IPA dominated by an explosive character with citrusy and peachy notes. PIZZA FRIARIELLA, this pizza features friarielli, a vegetable typical of the Campania region, with a strong and decisive flavour that would be a good accompaniment to a highly fermented beer with herbaceous aromas, such as GRAND HARBOUR. This English style, brewed with noble English hops, releases a typical earthy and wet taste with peppery notes on the palate. PIZZA BIANCA ALICI E MOZZARELLA, ideal with a Belgian style beer such as BLUE LAGOON, brewed with locally sourced orange peel and coriander. Extremely refreshing, it has a smooth body, a light acidity and a lively carbonation that makes it a great thirst quencher. PIZZA DOLCE, usually topped with Nutella and enriched with nuts, is an alternative to the usual dessert and very easy to prepare as the pizza base remains the same, cooked without toppings, but with all the ingredients added at the end of cooking... my mouth is watering just thinking about Nutella spread on warm, freshly baked dough! To accompany this unique dessert is FUNGUS ROCK, an American stout, brewed with roasted malt that gives an intense coffee flavour and final notes of chocolate. This beer is surprisingly nimble on the palate thanks to a dry bitter finish and a light acidity.