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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cheddar Scallion Ciabatta

It's been quite a while since Giada and I hung out in the kitchen.  I think we were initially so busy with the holidays and family and cooking up a our own respective kitchens...that we just never found the time to connect.  Because after all, it normally takes us quite a while to agree on something, so time is an issue. That said, we penciled in a few hours together yesterday and amazingly enough, we were both craving warm, cheesy, addicting bread.  No arguments.  No nitpicking.  No "my way is better than your way".  Just satisfied oooohhh's and mmmmmph's.  The one little thing I did insist on was making our own Ciabatta instead of picking it up from the bakery.  What can I say...I needed to warm up the house with the smell of bread baking.  She praised me for my brilliant ways...and brought her recipe for Cheddar Scallion Bread with her.
Ciabatta Bread
adapted from allrecipes
makes 2 loaves (~1¼ lb. total weight...just over ½ lb. each)

for sponge:
1/8 tsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbs. warm water (~110°F)
1/3 c. warm water
1 c. bread flour

for bread:
½ tsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbs. warm milk (~110° F)
2/3 c. warm water
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 c. bread flour
1½ tsp. salt

olive oil, for bowl
white cornmeal, for baking

    For Sponge: In a small bowl stir together the yeast and 2 Tbs. warm water.  Let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. Add the remaining water and bread flour. Stir, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sponge stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours. Mine sat for 21 hours and was beautiful and bubbly!
 For Bread: In a large bowl, stir together yeast and milk; let stand 5 minutes, or until yeast looks creamy. Add water, oil, flour, salt and the sponge to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until everything comes together into a somewhat sticky ball.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for ~8-10 minutes.  Dough starts out sticky, but comes together into a nice, smooth ball when finished kneading.  Place into a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic or a clean kitchen towel.
Let rise until doubled in size, ~1½ hrs.
Turn dough out onto a work surface that has been ever-so-lightly dusted with flour; divide in half. The dough is soft soft and sensual at this point.  Like seriously.  I got this goofy smile on my face...and I even heard myself giggle a little.  It's so soft and supple. 
 Work each half into an ovalish, rectangularish-shape that is ~9" long.   This dough lifts so willingly off of your work surface, yet clings just enough to hold it's shape when formed.  (If there is too much flour on the surface, it will be tempted to slide around...your bread can't cling.)
Transfer to a pizza peel, parchment or silpat set on the bottom side of a baking sheet (so you don't have a lip to contend with).  that has been sprinkled with white cornmeal. Simply push back into shape, then use your fingertips to dimple each piece of dough all over.  Dust each loaf with a tiny bit of flour.
Cover loaves with a warm, damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until almost doubled in size, ~1½ hours.
If using a baking stone, place in oven on a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat oven to 400° F during last 20 minutes or so of rising time.
Slide the risen loaves onto the stone from your peel or baking sheet...or, simply place the baking sheet into the oven...and bake ~20 minutes, or until golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
So obviously I started the Ciabatta a day ahead, since the sponge had to have some time to work its magic.  My loaves were baked and warm and waiting when Giada strolled in, tan and relaxed from the Southern California air.  Too bad it's only in the 20's here.  Perhaps we should have met in her kitchen.
Cheddar Scallion Bread
makes ~4-6 svgs.
(half this recipe to use just one loaf of the Ciabatta...or divide among the two loaves)

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 oz. butter, at room temp.
4 scallions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 (~1 lb.) loaf ciabatta bread, cut in half horizontally 

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
In a food processor, combine the cheese and butter. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the scallions and and garlic, pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
 Spread the cheese mixture on the cut sides of the bread. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 mins., until golden.
Using a serrated knife, cut the bread into 1-inch thick slices and serve.
One loaf per person.  Yup.  That's the way we rolled that day.  Okay, I'm kidding.  I shared.  She didn't.

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  1. Love the loaf, and for sure I am not going to share it with anyone :)
    Like the Cheddar Scallion bread, baking it this week end. Lovely recipe.

  2. I love the combination of cheddar and scallion, this looks wonderful.

  3. This would be delicious even if I just picked up a loaf of ciabatta at the grocers...but what fun is that, and where is the wonderful aroma!!!

  4. My eyes are gnawing on that right now, but my tummy is gluten sad :(

    I love onion and cheese, and this looks fabulous. I bet a lot of baking is going on with the snow and weather!

  5. What a wonderful bread!! Oh...cheddar and scallion is a perfect combination.

  6. I would choose bread over just about any other foodstuff. And ciabatta...ooooh! I'm sorely tempted to get off my butt and make the starter to enjoy with some leftover pea soup tomorrow. Let's see how much time is left after I finish blog hopping.

  7. YUM!!! My husband would eat bread for EVERY meal and I've actually been looking for the perfect recipe to go with a nice bowl of soup with this cold weather!

  8. Holy crap, with a big bowl of roasted tomato soup? On a snowy day that would be heaven!

  9. Just the word ciabatta is enough for me. But then add the woeds cheddar and scallion .... oh my.

  10. The texture of the bread came out really fabulous and with that yummy melted cheese it is totally irresistible :) I should make it!

    US Masala

  11. Ohhh, esto me lo apunto, vaya pasada de receta.


  12. Oh my, that is the ultimate in comfort food! I love your shaping of the ciabatta - and the topping is cheezilicious. All you need is a beer to wash it down. ;-)

  13. Yum. Seriously yum.
    Scallions are one of my favorite things.

  14. Say what you want about Giada, but you just can't go wrong with bread covered in cheese. Am I right, or am I right?

    This ciabatta is gorgeous! You did a seriously bang up job.

  15. That looks so yummy. I am making some this weekend. Can't wait. Wish me luck.

  16. Hehe, cute commentary. The bread with the cheese looks to die for!!

  17. Oh the power of bread and brings us all together, right?

    Your ciabatta looks wonderful! I'm feeling greedy this week...I don't think I would share my loaf.

  18. LOL You are funny;) This bread looks delish!!!

  19. My favorite blog post of the day, what a wonderful dish...and to make it all is just fab.

  20. Bread looks absolutely divine with cheddar and scallion..

  21. Delicious cheese layered bread. I love the smell of fresh bread

  22. Oh yum Heather! Delicious cheesy homemade bread..... Your Giada posts rock, lol! You always have me laughing. I know you and her don't always get along but that's what makes the posts so fun. Glad to see you hit if off today.

  23. There is nothing quite like the smell, taste and sight of freshly baked bread. Your cheesy bread is making my mouth water so much, guess I'm going to have to join in and yours and Giada's party:)

  24. Lovely ciabatta...this is one bread that I have been wanting to make for a lonnng time. You have tempted me to go and make it.

  25. Ok...this is just too weird! I'm finishing up the last of the ciabatta loaves that I made over the weekend!!! (que: eerie music). Wish I had seen this cheddar scallion stuff before I ate both loaves! man. I think I'm going to have to drown my sorrows in a marg. (as if I need an excuse) LOL

  26. Oh man, this looks amazing. I am so wanting some right now. Bookmarking this to make soon.

  27. utterly yummy looking beauty ! u e a seasoned baker !

  28. What could be better on a snowy day than bread baking in the oven? The ciabatta looks delicious and with cheddar and scallions downright heavenly. Thanks for sharing your day with Giada. ;)

  29. I can practically smell this fabulous bread baking right now! Thanks for sharing your experience and the delicious recipe - YUM!

  30. This looks so good, I'm not sure if I'd share it or not. :)

  31. You are such a joy to read. Your ciabatta looks amazing. Great work on getting all of those bubbles in there. It sounds like you and Giada has a lot of fun :-) I hope you have a wonderful Friday. I can't believe the weekend is almost here! Thank you for sharing, my friend. Much love from Austin!

  32. wow, they look so super delicious. Love your pictures.

  33. Wow, this looks amazing - I'm so impressed you made your own ciabatta - I've never been brave enough to try, but you've really inspired me to give it a go. Giada's cheesy topping looks pretty good too, and so pleased you and Giada are getting along this week :-)

  34. So glad that you and Giada connected this week. The cheesy bread looks spectacular! ;-)

  35. You and Giada work well together! The bread and the topping sound fantastic. I love ciabatta, and the cheddar scallion topping would make me not to want to share either.

  36. Heather, the combo of cheese and a great bread is my 'go to' for a pick me up treat. You amaze me that you make your own bread! Kudos, girl!

  37. Mmm, this ciabatta looks real good. I just made the sponge, so will make the bread tomorrow. I think it'd be great for panini's!

  38. You can make Italian pizza this way as well.