Sometimes, we’re not feeding an army, or even a large family. Sometimes, we find ourselves cooking for two, which actually presents some challenges if we’re following traditional recipes geared toward a family of four. We either end up with leftovers, or we’re eating the same thing for the next 4 days, OR it just goes bad and we end up throwing it out. NOT an option when we’re trying to conserve and live frugally.
Honestly, for me, I try to eliminate the number of times I have to put on a mask and head out to the grocery store (here in California, a mask is mandatory). So, I will go to great lengths to stretch what I have and improvise wherever possible. But when I DO venture out, I stock up on the staple pantry items or things for the freezer because I really want to limit my trips to the store.
I wanted to use some Roma tomatoes we brought in the from the garden yesterday, and I thought it would be nice to have bruschetta for lunch. But that meant I had to make fresh bread. Hmmm…my sourdough starter isn’t quite ready. So, I went out and cut a few sprigs of rosemary to put together a smaller, non-sourdough version of my ciabatta. Instead of using my original recipe and having two big loaves of bread sitting around hoping to hand one off to the next person who stops by for a visit, I decided to make an amount that will be used right away (because this bread tastes best when it’s fresh).
I love a great ciabatta, and This. Is. Delicious. It’s a process that takes several hours, but it’s so worth the effort.
Rosemary Ciabatta (small batch)
2 c. Bread flour
1 c. Warm water
2 tsp. Active dry yeast
1 tsp. Salt
1 to 1 ½ tsp. Fresh rosemary, chopped
1 to 2 tsp. Olive oil
Pour warm water in large bowl of stand mixer. Stir in yeast. Set it aside to proof about 5 to 8 minutes.
In separate bowl, combine flour, salt and rosemary. Stir or whisk to distribute ingredients evenly.
Once yeast has proofed, pour flour mixture into mixing bowl. Secure bowl to mixer fitted with a dough hook. Start machine on low and advance to medium.
Drizzle in olive oil with machine running. Let it mix and scrape down the sides as necessary.
Drizzle a little olive oil in bowl (I use the same one from the flour) and use a paper towel to spread oil on bottom and sides of bowl.
Let mixer continue until a loose dough forms. Do not add more flour. (It should only be “loose,” not soupy. If it IS soupy, only add up to 2 Tbsp. of flour).
Scrape dough from mixing bowl directly to oiled bowl. Cover and set in warm place for 45 minutes (in the oven with the oven light on works well for this).
After 45 minutes, with wet fingertips, pull up all 4 sides of dough and fold towards the center. Re-wet fingers again, pull up one side of dough, lifting straight up from bowl and wave it back and forth several times. Fold it back down toward center. I know it sounds silly, but trust me – this action creates air and traps it in the dough resulting in a light and airy bread. Repeat this process pulling all sides of dough up, waving back and forth then folding toward center. Cover bowl and return to warm place for another 45 minutes.
Repeat entire process 4 times in 45 minute intervals (4 turn and folds total).
After the last turn and fold, lightly flour work surface. Use a pastry bench scraper to carefully remove dough from bowl onto work surface. Gently pat dough to flatten slightly. Start with the right side. Stretch dough to the right and fold to center. Do the same with the left side, stretching and folding toward center.
Then from the top right portion, stretch slightly and fold toward center. Repeat across the top from right to left folding toward center, then tuck bottom portion so it looks like a loose rectangle. Don’t work the dough too much and don’t deflate it.
Let dough rest on floured surface and cover with bowl for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425⁰F.
After dough has rested, use bench scraper to gently lift dough and place either on perforated pizza pan or baking sheet.
Place in oven and bake approximately 25 to 28 minutes (or until internal temperature reaches 160⁰F).
Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing.
Click HERE for printable recipe.