Now, I am not what you'd call a huge fan of bread. If I didn't eat it in months I'd be fine (and burgers don't count lol)
Anyhooooooo this past Sunday as some of you may recall was a beautiful day.....the sun was out and it was actually warm. I decided to make a light lunch for.......wait for it..........my friend Sunday and I. Seriously, that's her name (Hi Sunday I know you're reading this). Sandwich was the meal of choice although the day before I had been brooding over making fresh ciabatta to just dip into my homemade chili garlic oil.
In as much as I am not the biggest fan of bread, I actually like ciabatta with its lovely crusty exterior and pocket filled inside. If you love bread. ciabatta is great for dipping and also for sandwiches. It's not a dense bread and the overnight proofing gives it a nice yeasty flavour. I'm sharing with you a very simple recipe to make the bread........and an equally simple but wonderful sandwich that is bursting with flavour.
The only thing that takes a bit long with the bread is proofing the yeast paste. In Italy the correct name for it is 'biga'. It takes about 12 hours or so BUT is also very easy to do.
Makes 1 loaf
For the biga (yeast paste)
1/4 tsp active dry yeast (not instant yeast)
2 tbs lukewarm water
1/3 cup lukewarm water
250grams of home baking flour (If you have it, white bread flour is even better)
For the bread
500 grams of home baking flour (or white bread flour)
1 1/2tsp of salt
1tbs olive oil
2/3 cup of lukewarm water
About 2tbs warm milk
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
For the filling
500 grams, minute steak
100 grams, baby rocket
2 large onions, slice into rounds
1tsp brown sugar
3 large portobello mushrooms, cut into strips
Special equipment: An electric mixer with bread dough hooks.
Step 1: The biga.
In a small bowl, mix your yeast and the spoons of warm water and leave it alone for about 10 minutes (it should look creamy and slightly frothy). Next, place the flour, yeast mixture and remaining water into a larger bowl and sir well using a whisk for about 5 minutes to allow air through and until the ingredients are well mixed. Cover with cling film and leave it to stand for at least 12 hours (but no more than a day)
Step 2: The bread
In a small bowl, mix together the yeast and milk and leave it be for about 10 minutes. Then in a larger bowl, add the flour, yeast, water, oil and the biga and mix until all the ingredients are well integrated.
Tip: You can use an electric mixer with bread hooks but if you haven't got one, you can use a thin flat mwiko or last resort, your hands.
The dough will be a wet dough so don't worry too much about it. Take another large bowl and oil it thoroughly and transfer the bread dough, cover it and let it rise for another 1 1/2 hours. It should double in size and will be full of air pockets and will still be sticky. Don't worry that's how it should be. Pre heat your oven to 180°C.
I chose to have one large square loaf (but you can have 2 loaves instead). Flour your baking tray well and transfer the dough onto it. (I used my spatula to shape the dough) Sprinkle some more flour on top of the dough and place in the oven on the middle shelf for 25 minutes or until it is golden brown. Place on a cooling rack to cool and cover with a tea cloth to make sure the crust isn't too hard.
Step 3: For the filling
Flavour your steak with salt and pepper and place your griddle pan on high heat. Cook your steak for 2 minutes on each side (it should be medium done) and put aside to rest. In the same pan, throw in your mushrooms and sautee for about 5 minutes. Last but not least, add the onions and some oil. Reduce the heat on the pan and as the onions begin to brown, add the sugar and let it caramelise with the onions. Take off the heat once all the sugar is melted (don't use high heat or let the sugar cook for too long or it will harden) Your steak will have rested so you can cut it into strips.
Depending on how you made your loaf, cut 8 slices and lay them side by side. Slather all the slices with plenty of mustard. On one slice, layer the rocket, steak and mushrooms and onion and top with a second slice.
Plate and serve with a cold cold beer........or not :-) but I like beer so I say dooooooo iiiiiiit!!!