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Caramelized Red Onion, Roasted Garlic and Thyme Ciabatta by Patrick Ryan

Makes: 2 ciabattas  Mealtime: Lunch, DinnerMachine: MixerType: BreadsTotal time (min.): 265 plus overnight proving 
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The flavour combinations of caramelised red onion, roasted garlic and rosemary just take this classic Italian bread to the next level. Patrick’s Ciabatta bread is the perfect carrier for the ultimate steak sandwich.

Ingredients

For this recipe, Patrick is using a preferment known as a biga. The biga which needs to be made the day before you plan your final dough really introduces so much flavour to the final dough and for me takes it to the next level.

  
For the biga:

For the roasted garlic caramelised red onion and thyme:For the Ciabatta dough:

Tools

Method

For the biga:

  1. Simply combine all the ingredients, knead for 3 to 4 minutes, place into a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm and ferment overnight in the fridge. The Biga should be made the day before you intend to make the final dough.

For the roasted garlic caramelised red onion and thyme:

  1. For the roasted garlic, roast two bulbs of garlic in the oven at 170c for 25 minutes. The garlic should be soft to the pinch; allow it to cool before squeezing out the delicious cloves of roasted garlic
  2. For the caramelised red onion, thinly slice 2 red onions and cook in a pan on a medium heat with a little salt and pepper and a knob of butter. As the onions soften, add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and allow to caramelise slightly. Reduce the heat and add 100ml of red wine vinegar and cook down the onions till soft and tender. A place to one side to cool.
  3. Finely chopped 3 large sprigs of thyme leaves

For the ciabatta:

  1. To the bowl of the mixer, add the prepared biga along with the flour, salt, water and fresh yeast.
  2. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on speed 2 for 5 to 6 minutes. This is a wet dough and will require plenty of kneading. Avoid the temptation to add additional flour to the dough it will come together.
  3. For the final 2 to 3 minutes of kneading, increase the speed of the mixer to 5. The dough is fully kneaded when it comes away cleanly from the sides of the mixing bowl.
  4. Transfer the dough to clean oiled bowl so that it may prove. Patrick likes to use a square or rectangular container as it makes folding the dough a lot easier as well as helping to give the dough the desired final shape.
  5. Allow the dough to prove for 30 minutes.
  6. Take a third of the onion, roasted garlic and chopped rosemary and spread it over the dough. Stretch and fold the dough. Leave the dough to prove for a further 30 minutes before repeating the stretch and fold, each time adding a third of the onion, roasted garlic and rosemary. This needs to be done three times in total. Each time allow the dough to prove for 30 minutes. By introducing stretches and folds to the dough, it helps to build strength within the dough, which is very important in high hydrated doughs.
  7. Following the final stretch and fold, allow the dough to prove for a further 30 minutes before turning the dough onto a well-floured surface. You can be generous with the flour. Unlike most doughs, you do not want to knock the dough back; instead, portion the dough as gently as possible so as not to completely deflate the dough. Portion the dough into four. Lightly shape the dough just to give it the desired shape. Transfer the dough to a tray lined with a floured tea towel.
  8. Place one portion of dough onto the floured tea towel, and create a barrier with the tea towel before adding the next portion of dough. Each piece of dough sits side by side, supporting one another, and the floured tea towels prevent the doughs from sticking together.
  9. Prove for a further 45 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oven to 260c. Place a tray into the base of the oven so that it heats up. This will be used for steaming the loaves of bread during baking.
  11. Gently Transfer each portion of dough to a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. To create steam within the oven, pour boiling water into the preheated tray in the base of the oven.
  12. Allow the loaves of bread to cool before serving.