I love to make bread and I love the idea of making bread even more. I often come up with grand plans to make a loaf of bread a week to use for lunches but you know how that goes…
Ciabatta bread is my absolute favorite type of bread. It’s light and airy on the inside but has a very crispy crust and is a great vehicle for a lot of different kinds of sandwiches. This dough, adapted from a The Kitchn recipe, does take a long time to make. Most of that time, however, is just letting it rise so it’s not bad at all. It also has the added bonus of making your house smell delicious!
If you’ve never tried your hand at bread making, you probably want to start with something else. If you’ve successfully made a couple of loaves, however, you should give this bread a shot!
- 4 fl oz Warm Water
- ½ tsp Active-Dry Yeast
- 5 oz All-Purpose Flour (about 1 cup)
- 17 fl oz Warm Water
- 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 20 oz All-Purpose Flour (about 4 cups)
- 2 tsp Salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix all of the starter ingredients with a wooden spoon for about 1 minute to dissolve the yeast and start to develop gluten.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Add the water and yeast to the starter and stir to break up the starter a bit.
- Add all of the flour and salt and stir to combine, making sure that all of the flour is moistened and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
- Pop the dough hook onto the mixer and mix the dough on medium speed (5 or 6) for 18 – 20 minutes until it’s smooth but still pools at the bottom of the bowl when you turn the mixer off. Keep an eye on your mixer or it will walk off of the counter.
- Cover the bowl and let it rise for 2 – 3 hours until tripled in bulk.
- Preheat the oven to 475⁰ and line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Heavily dust your work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. The dough will be really light and may have a hard time staying put.
- Dust the top of the dough and your hands with more flour and cut the dough into 16 pieces. I cut it in half and then each of the halves in half until I get to 16 pieces.
- Using a bench scraper, lightly scoop up the dough sections, gently roll them into balls and put them on the prepared pans, being careful not to deflate them too much.
- Let them rest/proof one more time for about 20 minutes and cook for 20 – 30 minutes until golden brown and delicious.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
I find the perfect place to rise dough is in the oven (turned off) with the light on. This provides the perfect environment for the yeast to do their thing and you don’t have dough taking up space on your counter top all day.
I love to make up a batch of these and freeze them to use later for sandwiches. They take a long time, but they’re totally worth it.
The basic ingredients for most of the different kinds of bread are water, flour, salt and yeast. The ratios, mixing times, proofing times, and cooking methods are responsible for the endless varieties that we get to enjoy!