I love a good flat bread, crusty on the outside and full of air pockets on the inside. Ciabatta is a simple one to make and it helps that the sponge is done the night before, then a few moments to mix the sponge and the rest of the ingredients in the morning and it can hang out in the fridge all day and be ready to shape and bake with dinner.
This recipe makes 2 10″ flat breads.
1/8 Tsp Dry Yeast
2 Tbsp Warm Water
1/3 C Water — Room Temp
1 C All-purpose Flour
The Ciabatta does require a simple sponge but it takes only a few minutes to put together the day before making the bread. Though the dough for Ciabatta is very wet and sticky, resist the temptation to add more flour.
To make the sponge:
In a small bowl proof the yeast and warm water; let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In a bowl stir together yeast mixture, room-temperature water, and flour and stir 4 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand at cool room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
1/2 Tsp Dry Yeast
2 Tbsp Warm Milk
2/3 C Water — Room Temp
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Salt
In a small bowl stir together yeast and milk and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil, and flour at low speed until flour is just moistened and beat dough at medium speed 3 minutes. Add salt and beat 4 minutes more. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough will be sticky and full of air bubbles.)
Have ready 2 rimless cookie sheets covered with well-floured and cornmealed sheets of parchment paper. Turn dough (**this is a VERY wet and sticky dough and should be handled as little as possible when shaping; flour your hands well or you will wear the dough out**) onto a well-floured work surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to a parchment sheet and form into an irregular oval (thier name comes from their shape, that of a slipper) about 9 inches long. Dimple loaves with floured fingers and dust tops with flour. Cover loaves with a dampened kitchen towel. Let loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
At least 45 minutes before baking, put a baking stone or 4 to 6 unglazed “quarry” tiles arranged close together on oven rack in lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 425° F.
Uncover the loaves and slide gently (parchment and all) onto the stone or tiles. Bake ciabatta loaves 20 minutes, or until pale golden. With a large spatula transfer loaves to a cooling rack to cool. To serve, tear off individual pieces.
Notes: Drizzle them with olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt or poke 12 kalamata olives into the dough prior to baking and then top with basil, garlic and or toasted onion. They also go well dipped into a roasted garlic-olive oil or an olive oil-seed-nut mix.