Ciabatta Bread: Crispy On The Outside, Pillowy On The Inside

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Ciabatta bread, with its airy crumb and signature crackly crust, is a staple in Italian cuisine. This rustic delight elevates any sandwich or simply begs to be dipped in good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. While store-bought ciabatta can be convenient, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of baking your own fresh loaf. This recipe makes achieving bakery-quality ciabatta at home easier than you might think.

Ingredients:

Ciabatta Bread
Ciabatta Bread

3 ½ cups (420 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 1 ½ teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (9 grams) coarse sea salt
  • 1 ¾ cups (420 milliliters) lukewarm water (about 105°F/40°C)
  • ¼ cup (60 milliliters) olive oil

  • Instructions:

    1. Make the Dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, and salt. Gradually add the lukewarm water and olive oil, mixing with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

    2. Knead the Dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10-12 minutes, adding a little extra flour as needed, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

    3. Bulk Fermentation: Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 ½ – 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

    4. Shaping the Loaves: Lightly flour your work surface. Gently deflate the dough and cut it in half using a sharp knife. Fold each half in half a few times, creating a rough rectangular shape.

    5. Second Rise: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust the tops of the dough with flour and carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, leaving a few inches of space between them. Cover the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise for another 1 – 1 ½ hours, until slightly puffed.

    6. Baking: Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C) with a baking stone (if you have one) placed on the bottom rack. When ready to bake, preheat a small baking pan filled with 1 cup of water (to create steam) and place it on the bottom rack of the oven.

    7. Score the Loaves: Using a sharp knife or razor blade, make 3-4 diagonal cuts across the top of each loaf.

    8. Bake: Carefully transfer the baking sheet with the loaves to the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove the loaves from the oven and cool them completely on a wire rack before slicing.

    Nutrition Facts (per slice):

    Calories: 190

  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 32 grams
  • Sugar: 1 gram
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Sodium: 230 milligrams

  • Conclusion

    There you have it! With a little time and effort, you can enjoy the taste of fresh-baked ciabatta bread at home. This recipe is forgiving and perfect for beginner and experienced bakers alike. So grab your ingredients, preheat your oven, and get ready to experience the magic of homemade ciabatta!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast?

    Yes, you can! Use 1 teaspoon of instant yeast and follow the same instructions.

    2. Do I need a baking stone to bake ciabatta?

    A baking stone helps create a crispy crust, but it’s not essential. You can bake your ciabatta directly on a baking sheet.

    3. My dough is too sticky. What can I do?

    If your dough feels too sticky, add a bit more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it becomes manageable. Be careful not to add too much flour, as it can make the bread tough.

    4. Can I make ciabatta rolls instead of loaves?

    Absolutely! Simply follow the recipe up to step 4, then divide the dough into 8-10 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place on a baking sheet. Let them rise and bake according to the instructions.

    5. How long will my homemade ciabatta bread stay fresh?