A classic Italian sourdough sandwich
November 26 2015 10:04 PM
Smoked Chicken and Ciabatta Sandwich.    Photo by the author
Smoked Chicken and Ciabatta Sandwich. Photo by the author

- Tarun Kapoor is executive chef at Doha’s Horizon Manor Hotel. Send your feedback to:
[email protected]

Bread is one word that needs no introduction or explanation. Have you ever wondered that simple bread also has a long and vast history? I will elaborate on how the bread evolved and travelled through ages to the bread we all eat today.
Evidence from the historic time indicates that bread in its various forms, shapes and sizes has been around for thousands of years. As humans progressed they devised ways to stone ground the grains, they developed grinding mechanisms so that the outer inedible layer of the grain can be removed to make it edible and further ground it to get flour – the main ingredient in bread.
Eventually the four thus obtained was mixed with water to get a whole lot of varieties of foods like porridge, or flour pudding. The early experiments with bread were particularly successful when the yeast in the air fermented the dough, which raised the volume of the bread and enhanced the taste of the bread. The initial breads were uncertain in their outcome as the knowhow about the yeast and various grain and their properties was not there. But with the passage of time and with more hands on experiments with bread making the techniques involved and the ingredients were improved, which resulted in better quality of breads.
Egyptians as one of the oldest civilisations of the world have an influence on the bread making as well. They wanted to exclude yeast from their breads and thus started using the over fermented leftover dough for the next day’s production which gave the bread its peculiar sourdough taste and raised the bread better than making a fresh batch of dough. I would say that this technique definitely revolutionised the bread making industry and took the overall bread making to a new horizon. This technique or process of using the left over dough for next day’s production is followed by most of the specialty bread makers today and bread lovers are always look out for bakeries that specialise in such bread making.
Even I experienced this technique when I went to Europe and visited a bakery which was following this process from the last 30 years. Their breads were simply a treat for bread lovers, the bakery owner explained me the significance of the starter dough they use to make their breads and mentioned to me that their bread dough has matured over a period of 30 years and is still improving.
Also the next big thing that influenced the bread production was the baking ovens; initially clay or iron enclosures/boxes fired with wood or charcoal were used where the temperature was difficult to control. Technology gradually progressed to the gas or electric ovens with precise temperature controls that are safe for the bakers and give consistent bread production. As a baker now there are plenty of options related to the ovens like rotary ovens where the product to be baked is rotated automatically to bake evenly or the deck oven with option of steam to raise the bread and give a nice chewy crust.
Ciabatta is one of the popular examples of sourdough bread. This is my favourite too as this bread has a rich inside texture and is sour to taste due to the fact that the dough is prepared a day in advance and the bread is prepared the next day.

Smoked Chicken and Ciabatta Sandwich

(Classic Italian sourdough bread sandwich with smoked chicken breast)

(Serves 2)
Ciabatta bread 2 no
Garlic mayonnaise to spread
Butter    2 tbsp
Ice berg lettuce 2-3 leaves
Chicken breast  2 nos
Basil leaves 5-6 no
Onion rings ½ no
Bocconcini cheese 80 gm
Potato fries 2 portions
White pepper to taste
Salt to taste

Raspberry coulis ¼ cup
Sugar 1 tbsp

Cut Ciabatta bread horizontally and keep aside.
Spread garlic mayonnaise on both sides.
Tear lettuce leaves with hand and place on bread.
Slice the smoked chicken breast and arrange on the bread, basil leaves, onion rings and Bocconcini cheese slices.
Sprinkle pepper and salt to season.
Close with the other half and spread butter on the outside of the bread and grill on a hot griller to have grilled marks.
Serve hot with crisp fried potato and raspberry coulis on the side.
For raspberry coulis take some raspberry and blend with some water and sugar to a smooth consistency.

Note: Instead of using chicken as your filling of the sandwich you can use grilled cottage cheese, bell peppers, zucchini, tomato, asparagus, and mushrooms to make your own vegetarian sandwich.

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