Ciabatta Bread (recipe)
Although I have been thrilled by all the attention that my little writeup has gotten through the years it has not been without some controversy. Many readers have expressed confusion and problems with my original instructions. That is why I am now republishing it with greater details around those steps which I think were causing some to have less than desirable results.
Before I proceed I must state that for the best results it is very important that you use bread flour instead of all-purpose. You will get a much better crumb due to the higher gluten content.
Ciabatta Bread Recipe:
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup bread flour
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
1 tsp brown sugar
2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon 2 tablespoons olive oil (edited in light of this comment 🙂 )
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Wholewheat flour for dusting
1. To Make Sponge: In a small bowl stir together 1/8 teaspoon of the yeast and the warm water and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy.
3. Stir 4 minutes, then cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand at cool room temperature for 24 hours.
STOP! Before you read on, please note that it is very important that you get these first 3 steps correct. The most common question I get is whether I really meant to add 1/3 cup of water to 1 cup of bread flour! Yes, I did
At first when you add the water you will get something that looks like this…
rather dry isn’t it?
That’s why the instructions say to stir for four minutes. See how it gradually comes together?
If at the end it is still a little too dry you can add water by the tablespoon, but again just enough to hold it all together.
5. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook blend together yeast mixture, sponge, water, oil, and flour at low speed until flour is just moistened; add salt and mix until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. The dough should be relatively firm at this point and clear the sides of the bowl. If it’s not gradually add more flour (by the 1/4 cup) until it forms as described.
8. Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and cut in half.
9. Transfer each half to a greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal and form into an irregular oval about 9 inches long. Dimple loaves with floured fingers and dust tops with wholewheat flour.
12. Bake ciabatta loaves 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden.
13. Cool loaves on a wire rack.
Makes 2 loaves
This post was originally published on November 24, 2006. It has been updated once since then.