Everyone has that one thing they can’t wait to cool down for. Cookies, pastries, pie… Mine is Ciabatta. To be very precise, it’s the end pieces of Ciabatta hot out of the oven with a smear of salted butter. It’s food heaven for me.
Ciabatta is also not something you would normally consider to make at home. I spent years making it in professional kitchens with huge stand mixers. The dough needs a good, fast beating which these machines provide with no problems. I tried making a single batch at home one off day. It didn’t work out at all. Fast forward several years and the simple revelation came to me. Take the recipe down even further. And it worked. Straight back to food heaven.
Ciabatta is a high hydration bread. This means that the percentage ratio of liquid to flour is higher than other dough. It can be challenging to work with at first, but the results are truly satisfying. I find that a beginner can make a truly wonderful Ciabatta by simply following the instructions.
This recipe does not use a biga, so you will be pulling the bread from the oven within hours of starting. At the same time, you cannot compare the taste to Ciabatta made with a biga. You can also allow the dough to proof in the fridge overnight to develop a bigger flavor.
Perfectly crusty Ciabatta that is great for novice bakers and bakers who don't have a biga.
- 500 gram cake flour
- 10 gram sugar
- 10 gram salt
- 10 gram sachet yeast
- 500 ml Luke-warm water
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celcius. Place an empty tray on the lower level.
Mix all the ingredients together in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with paddle on a low speed until combined. Increase speed to high and run until the dough is coming away from the sides of the bowl and looks silky. A good way to check is if you pull the dough away from the paddle attachment and it stretches out in a very thin sheet without tearing. This will take a few minutes. Be sure not to walk away from your mixer. You will need to hold it. Wrap the mixing bowl with cling wrap and leave to proof until dough looks bubbly and has at least doubled in size. You can check to see if the gluten structure has formed appropriately. It will look stringy.
Prepare baking trays with nonstick spray and flour.
Take dough out of mixing bowl onto a heavily floured surface. Sprinkle with flour and fold dough over and into itself into a sausage. I like to twist the dough as I fold. I find that a thinner loaf produces larger pockets.
Cut into 2 equal parts and stretch out onto a prepared tray.
Put in oven and quickly pour a 1/2 cup of water onto the bottom tray. Close the oven to keep the steam inside. Turn down the temperature to 230 degrees Celcius. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the loaves over and bake for another 5 minutes until fully cooked. You can check if they are done by tapping on the bottom of the bread. It should sound hollow. If it doesn't, simply put it back in the oven. Leave to cool completely before slicing. (If you can wait that long!)
You can make bread rolls instead of 2 loaves. Simply divide the dough into 12 pieces instead of 2 loaves and proceed to bake as per recipe.
To learn how to make other bread have a look at the Kitchen Essentials page.