This is another lovely Italian white bread made with wheat flour. It was created in 1982, by a baker Adria in a province of Rovigo, Veneto, Italy in response to the popular French baguette.
Ciabatta is somewhat elongated, broad and flat and baked in many variations, but is unique for it’s alveolar holes. It is made with much stronger flour and uses a very much wetter dough.
2 or 16loaves or rolls
You have to make the Biga ( pre ferment) the night before baking and allow it to sit for several hours. Don’t skip this little step as it’s the biga that helps give the ciabatta it’s complex flavour, chewy crumb and crispy crust.
4oz (1/2 cup) water. I used filtered
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5 ounces ( 1 cup) strong white flour
17 oz (2 cups + 2 Tbsp ) water
1 tsp active dry yeast
17 oz strong white flour
3 oz rye flour
2 tsp salt
- Dissolve the yeast in water. Add the flour and stir to form a thick paste. Give 50 or so brisk stirs to build up the gluten. Cover and let it sit at room temperature overnight.
- By the next day the biga will look soupy with many bubbles dotting the surface.
- Dissolve the yeast in the water in the bowl of a standing mixer. Scrape the biga into the water and break it up with a spatula. You don’t need to completely dissolve the biga, just loosen it up and break into stringy blobs.
- Add all of the flour and the salt. Stir to form a thick, very wet dough. Let this rest for 10-20 minutes to give the flour time to absorb the water.
- Fit stand mixer with a dough hook and knead for 15-18 minutes.
- The dough will start off sticking to the bottom of the sides of the bowl. Around the 7 minute mark, it should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl, collect around the dough hook, and regularly slap the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t nudge the speed up a notch. If the dough starts climbing the dough hook, stop mixer and scrape it down again. By the end of the kneading, the dough should look smooth and creamy with a glossy shine. It will puddle back into the bowl once you turn off the mixer, this is fine.
- Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 2-3 hours, until tripled in size.
- After the ciabatta has risen, dust a work surface heavily with flour. Set 2 sheets of baking paper near your work surface. Scrape the dough out of the bowl, taking care not to deflate it too much. Dust the top of the dough with more flour. Using a pastry scraper or pizza wheel, cut the dough into two pieces for loaves or into 16 pieces for rolls.
- Brush your hands with flour. Work gently but swiftly , scoop the loaves (or rolls) from the work surface to the baking paper already on a baking tray. Press your fingertips about half way into the dough to dimple the surface and slightly flatten the loaves. Let the loaves rise, uncovered for 30-4- minutes. When ready to bake they should look pillowy with many big bubbles just beneath the surface. While loaves are rising. Preheat oven to 230C/475F. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
- When baked , put onto a rack to cool completely if you can wait that long.