Hello, Good News! Welcome to another article where we share with you some of the best recipes from around the world. Today, we are going to talk about glass bread, a traditional loaf from the Catalan region of Spain that has a shatteringly crispy crust and a beautiful, holey interior. If you are looking for a bread that is easy to make, full of flavor, and stunning to look at, then you are in the right place.
Glass bread, or pan de cristal in Spanish, is named after its translucent and airy crumb that resembles glass. It is made with a very high hydration dough, which means that it has a lot of water in relation to the flour. This makes the dough very sticky and wet, but also very elastic and smooth. The dough is fermented with yeast and folded several times to develop strength and structure. Then, it is shaped into thin and flat loaves that are baked at a high temperature until they puff up and brown.
What You Need to Make Glass Bread
To make glass bread, you will need the following ingredients:
- Water: You will need 400 grams of water, which is equal to 400 milliliters or about 1 2/3 cups. The water should be cold or at room temperature.
- Flour: You will need 400 grams of bread flour, which is about 3 1/4 cups. Bread flour has a high protein content, which helps the dough hold more water and rise better. You can also use all-purpose flour, but the bread may not be as crispy and airy.
- Yeast: You will need 1.7 grams of instant yeast, which is about half a teaspoon. Instant yeast does not need to be activated in water before adding it to the flour. It also works faster than active dry yeast, which means that the dough will rise quicker.
- Salt: You will need 10 grams of salt, which is about 1 3/4 teaspoons. Salt adds flavor to the bread and also regulates the yeast activity.
- Olive oil: You will need 10 grams of olive oil, which is about 2 teaspoons. Olive oil helps prevent the dough from sticking to the pan and also adds a nice aroma and taste to the bread.
To make glass bread, you will need the following equipment:
- A medium bowl: You will need a medium bowl to mix the dough ingredients.
- A digital scale: You will need a digital scale to measure the ingredients accurately. This is important for high hydration doughs, as small variations in weight can affect the texture and outcome of the bread.
- A digital thermometer: You will need a digital thermometer to check the temperature of the dough. The ideal temperature for the dough is between 70°F and 75°F (21°C and 24°C). If the dough is too cold or too hot, it may not rise properly or have the right flavor.
- A two-quart rectangular baking dish: You will need a two-quart rectangular baking dish (10″ x 7″) to ferment and fold the dough. You can also use an 8″ or 9″ square pan if you don’t have a rectangular one. The pan should be oven-safe, as you will bake the bread in it.
- A plastic wrap or a damp cloth: You will need a plastic wrap or a damp cloth to cover the dough while it ferments and rests.
- A sharp knife or a lame: You will need a sharp knife or a lame (a special blade for scoring bread) to slash the dough before baking. This helps create steam and expansion in the oven.
- A baking stone or a baking sheet: You will need a baking stone or a baking sheet to bake the bread on. A baking stone retains heat better and creates a crispier crust, but a baking sheet works fine too.
- A spray bottle: You will need a spray bottle filled with water to spray the oven before baking. This creates steam in the oven, which helps the bread rise and form a crust.
How to Make Glass Bread
Step 1: Mix the Dough
In a medium bowl, mix the water, flour, yeast, and salt until thoroughly combined and homogenous. The dough will be very slack and wet, almost like pancake batter. Don’t worry, this is normal. It will transform itself through time and folds.
Oil your baking dish with olive oil and pour the dough into it. Check the dough’s temperature by inserting your digital thermometer into the center. If it’s less than 70°F (21°C), move the dish to a warmer spot, such as your oven with the light turned on. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Step 2: Fold the Dough
After 20 minutes, start with a bowl fold: Use your wet hands to grab a section of dough from one side, lift it up, then press it down into the middle. Repeat this eight to 12 times, going around the dish. This helps develop gluten and strength in the dough.
Cover the dish again and let it rest for another 20 minutes. Then, do a coil fold: With wet hands, reach under the dough and stretch the middle upward until the dough releases from the dish. Roll it forward off your hands, allowing it to fold over (or “coil”) on itself. Rotate the dish 90° (a quarter turn) and repeat. Continue performing this folding action until the dough feels like it won’t stretch and elongate easily, usually four to five times initially.
Cover the dish again and let it rest for another 20 minutes. Repeat the coil fold three more times, resting 20 minutes between each fold. You will notice that the dough becomes smoother, silkier, and more elastic with each fold. It will also start to form bubbles on the surface, which is a sign of fermentation and gas production.
Step 3: Shape and Score the Dough
After the last fold, let the dough rest for another 20 minutes. Then, divide the dough into four equal pieces using your knife or lame. Gently stretch each piece into a thin and flat rectangle, about 5″ x 7″. Try not to deflate the dough too much, as you want to preserve the bubbles.
Place two pieces of dough on your baking stone or baking sheet, leaving some space between them. Slash each piece diagonally three or four times with your knife or lame, making sure to cut through the skin of the dough. Repeat with the other two pieces of dough on another baking stone or baking sheet.
Step 4: Bake the Bread
Preheat your oven to 500°F (260°C) with a rack in the middle position. When the oven is hot, spray some water inside with your spray bottle to create steam. Carefully slide one baking stone or baking sheet with two pieces of dough onto the rack and close the oven door quickly. Spray some more water after a few seconds and lower the oven temperature to 450°F (230°C).
Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then rotate the baking stone or baking sheet for even browning. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the bread is golden and crisp. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool slightly. Repeat with the other baking stone or baking sheet with the remaining two pieces of dough.
A Table Breakdown of Glass Bread Recipe
|400 ml or 1 2/3 cups
|3 1/4 cups
|1 3/4 tsp
|4 medium loaves (5″ x 7″)
|25 to 30 minutes per batch
|500°F (260°C) then 450°F (230°C)
Frequently Asked Questions About Glass Bread Recipe
What is glass bread?
Glass bread is a traditional loaf from the Catalan region of Spain that has a shatteringly crispy crust and a beautiful, holey interior. It is named after its translucent and airy crumb that resembles glass.
How do you eat glass bread?
Glass bread is usually eaten as a snack or an appetizer, often with toppings or spreads. Some of the most common ways to enjoy glass bread are:
- With tomato and olive oil: This is the classic Catalan way of eating glass bread. Cut a ripe tomato in half and rub it over the surface of the bread, squeezing out the juice and pulp. Drizzle some olive oil over the bread and sprinkle some salt. You can also add some garlic, cheese, ham, or anchovies for extra flavor.
- With chocolate and sea salt: This is a sweet and salty treat that is perfect for dessert or breakfast. Melt some dark chocolate in a microwave or a double boiler and spread it over the bread. Sprinkle some flaky sea salt over the chocolate and let it set before breaking into pieces.
- With hummus and vegetables: This is a healthy and satisfying option that is great for lunch or a picnic. Spread some hummus over the bread and top it with sliced cucumber, tomato, carrot, radish, or any other vegetable you like. You can also add some herbs, lemon juice, or tahini for more flavor.
How do you store glass bread?
Glass bread is best eaten fresh, as it loses its crispiness and flavor over time. However, if you have any leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. To reheat them, you can either toast them in a toaster oven or a skillet until they are warm and crisp again, or you can wrap them in aluminum foil and bake them in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 10 minutes.
How do you make glass bread without yeast?
If you don’t have yeast or want to make glass bread faster, you can use baking powder instead of yeast as a leavening agent. However, the bread will not have the same flavor and texture as the yeast version. To make glass bread without yeast, you will need to reduce the water to 300 grams (300 ml or 1 1/4 cups) and add 10 grams (2 tsp) of baking powder to the flour. Mix the dough as usual, but skip the folding steps and let it rest for only 10 minutes before shaping and scoring. Bake the bread as usual, but reduce the baking time to 15 to 20 minutes per batch.
How do you make glass bread with sourdough starter?
If you have a sourdough starter and want to make glass bread with more flavor and complexity, you can use it instead of yeast as a leavening agent. However, the bread will take longer to rise and may have a slightly sour taste. To make glass bread with sourdough starter, you will need to replace the yeast with 100 grams (1/2 cup) of active sourdough starter and reduce the water to 300 grams (300 ml or 1 1/4 cups). Mix the dough as usual, but let it ferment for about four hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator, folding it every hour. Shape and score the dough as usual, but let it proof for another hour at room temperature before baking. Bake the bread as usual.
What is the difference between glass bread and ciabatta?
Glass bread and ciabatta are both types of Italian-style breads that have a high hydration dough, a crispy crust, and an open crumb. However, they have some differences in their ingredients, methods, and shapes. Glass bread uses more water than ciabatta (100% vs 80% hydration), which makes it thinner and flatter. Glass bread also uses olive oil in the dough and in the pan, which adds more flavor and prevents sticking. Ciabatta does not use any oil in the dough or in the pan, which makes it more rustic and chewy. Glass bread is shaped into rectangular loaves that are slashed diagonally before baking. Ciabatta is shaped into oval loaves that are dimpled with fingers before baking.
What is the origin of glass bread?
Glass bread is believed to have originated in Barcelona, Spain, in the late 19th century or early 20th century. It was created by bakers who wanted to use up their leftover dough from making other types of breads. They stretched the dough into thin sheets and baked them until they were crisp and golden. The bread became popular among workers who ate it with tomato and olive oil as a cheap and filling snack. The name “glass bread” comes from its translucent and airy crumb that resembles glass.
What are some variations of glass bread?
Glass bread can be made with different types of flour, such as whole wheat, rye, spelt, or buckwheat, to add more nutrition and flavor. It can also be flavored with different herbs, spices, seeds, nuts, cheese, or dried fruits, to create different combinations and tastes. Some examples of glass bread variations are:
- Rosemary and sea salt glass bread: Add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary and 2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt to the flour before mixing the dough.
- Cheese and onion glass bread: Add 1 cup of grated cheese (such as cheddar, parmesan, or mozzarella) and 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion to the dough after the first fold.
- Cranberry and walnut glass bread: Add 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts to the dough after the last fold.
What are some benefits of glass bread?
Glass bread has some benefits that make it a good choice for bread lovers. Some of these benefits are:
- It is easy to make: Glass bread does not require any special equipment or skills to make. You only need a few simple ingredients and a baking dish to mix, fold, and bake the dough.
- It is versatile: Glass bread can be eaten plain or with various toppings or spreads. It can also be used to make sandwiches, pizzas, bruschetta, or crostini. It can be enjoyed at any time of the day, from breakfast to dinner.
- It is delicious: Glass bread has a unique texture and flavor that is hard to resist. It has a shatteringly crispy crust that contrasts with a soft and airy interior. It has a mild and slightly sweet taste that goes well with any accompaniment.
What are some challenges of glass bread?
Glass bread also has some challenges that may make it difficult for some people to make or enjoy. Some of these challenges are:
- It is sticky and wet: Glass bread has a very high hydration dough, which means that it has a lot of water in relation to the flour. This makes the dough very sticky and wet, which can be messy and hard to handle. You will need to use wet hands or a scraper to fold and shape the dough.
- It is time-consuming: Glass bread requires several steps of folding and resting the dough, which can take up to two hours in total. You will also need to preheat your oven for at least 30 minutes before baking the bread.
- It is perishable: Glass bread does not keep well for long, as it loses its crispiness and flavor over time. You will need to eat it within two days or freeze it for later use.
What are some tips and tricks for making glass bread?
Here are some tips and tricks that can help you make glass bread successfully:
- Use a digital scale: Measuring your ingredients by weight rather than by volume will ensure accuracy and consistency in your dough. This is especially important for high hydration doughs, as small variations in weight can affect the texture and outcome of the bread.
- Use cold or room temperature water: Using cold or room temperature water will help control the temperature of the dough and prevent over-fermentation. The ideal temperature for the dough is between 70°F and 75°F (21°C and 24°C). If the dough is too cold or too hot, it may not rise properly or have the right flavor.
- Fold the dough gently: Folding the dough helps develop gluten and strength in the dough, but it also deflates some of the gas bubbles that form during fermentation. You want to fold the dough gently and avoid tearing or breaking it. You also want to preserve some of the bubbles on the surface of the dough, as they will create holes in the crumb.
- Bake the bread hot: Baking the bread at a high temperature will help it rise quickly and form a crispy crust. You also want to create steam in the oven by spraying some water inside before baking. This will help the bread expand and prevent it from drying out.
Glass bread is a traditional loaf from the Catalan region of Spain that has a shatteringly crispy crust and a beautiful, holey interior. It is made with a very high hydration dough that is fermented with yeast and folded several times to develop strength and structure. It is shaped into thin and flat loaves that are slashed diagonally before baking at a high temperature until they puff up and brown.
Glass bread is usually eaten as a snack or an
appetizer, often with toppings or spreads. It is easy to make, versatile, and delicious. It can also be made with different types of flour, flavorings, or leavening agents. However, it is sticky and wet, time-consuming, and perishable. You will need to measure your ingredients accurately, control the temperature of the dough, fold the dough gently, and bake the bread hot to make it successfully.
We hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new about glass bread. If you want to try making it at home, you can follow the recipe and the tips we provided above. You can also check out our other articles for more recipes, tips, and tricks for baking bread and other delicious foods.
Thank you for reading and happy baking!