by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, How to Make Bread
This popular Italian bread is named after its characteristic appearance, ciabatta being the Italian word for ‘slipper’. Time and patience (and olive oil!) are needed to create those lovely bubbles in the loaf. It is best warm, dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar or slathered with butter.
1 1⁄2 cups (200 g) white strong/bread flour or Italian “00” flour
Baking sheet lined with parchment paper
In one (smaller) mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt together and set aside. This is the dry mixture.
In another (larger) mixing bowl, weigh out the yeast. Add the water and stir until the yeast has dissolved. This is the wet mixture.
Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.
Mix the mixtures together with a wooden spoon until you get a fairly sticky dough.
Put about one third of the olive oil in another large mixing bowl and place the sticky dough in it.
Step 6: Cover and let rest for 1 hour.
Step 7: After 1 hour, gently fold the dough twice.
Step 8: Cover with the bowl that had the dry mixture in it.
Now repeat Steps 6–8 three times, adding a little olive oil before resting the dough each time so that it does not stick too much to the bottom of the bowl.
At the very end of the resting cycle, the dough should be well risen and bubbly.
Dust a clean work surface well with flour.
Transfer the dough to the floured work surface. Be gentle so that you do not damage the air bubbles. (A)
Divide the dough into 2 equal portions using a metal dough scraper or sharp, serrated knife.
If you want to be as accurate as possible, weigh both pieces and add or subtract dough until they weigh the same.
Apply flour to your hands, then use to roughly mould each portion of dough into a slipper shape. Roll each ciabatta in flour. (B)
Place the ciabattas on the prepared baking sheet. (C)
Let rest for 5–10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475˚F (240˚C) Gas 9.
Bake the ciabattas in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. (You do not need a cupful of water in the bottom of the oven to create steam here because ciabatta dough is moist enough to create its own steam.)
To check if the ciabattas are baked through, tip upside down and tap the bottom – it should sound hollow.
If they are not ready, return to the oven briefly. (Do not bake for too long – ciabatta should be very soft on the inside with only a thin crust.) If they are ready, set on a wire rack to cool.
Yield: Makes 2 small ciabattas
Recipes: Bread, Ciabatta, Parve, Kosher