I know, I know. When I only manage to write a post once or twice a month I really need to branch out a little rather than giving you another bread recipe, but I just can't help myself. I've become addicted to the smell of freshly baked bread in my own kitchen. I decided to try ciabatta bread this time. Ciabatta is one of my favorites, but not just as a side at dinner. This makes for a perfect roll for sandwiches in general, and for panini in particular. It is crispy on the outside and soft and airy inside.
I found ciabatta to be a little more difficult to make than pane toscano. The dough is extremely sticky, making it pretty difficult to work with. I almost threw out the first batch I made before even baking it because it was such a schloppy mess. I decided to bake it anyway though, and somewhere in that process some magic happened. Despite my less than stellar prep, the rolls were amazing. So, if you give these a try and think all hope is lost after you make the dough, do yourself a favor and bake them anyway. Your sandwiches will thank you.
Makes 16 rolls
Adapted from The Kitchn
*Note: Needs to be started the day before baking
For the biga:
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup all-purpose flour
For the ciabatta:
2 cups and 2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
- Begin by making the biga. Put the 1/2 cup warm water in a bowl. Sprinkle the 1/2 teaspoon yeast over the water. Stir gently to dissolve the yeast. Add the 1 cup flour and stir about 50 times. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter at least 8 hours or overnight. When ready, it will have bubbles on the surface.
- Using the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the 1 teapoon of yeast in the 2 cups and 2 tablespoons of warm water, stirring to dissolve the yeast. Add the biga to the water, breaking it into smaller clumps as you add it.
- Add the flour and salt to the mixture and stir to throroughly combine. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
- Place the dough hook on the stand mixer and mix at a medium speed for about 15-18 minutes. (For my kitchenaid, I started on level 6 and then kicked it up one notch towards the end.) About half-way through the kneading process, the dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl, but will quickly fall back into the bowl when the mixer is stopped.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 2-3 hours on the counter.
- Prepare a work station by placing parchment paper on a baking sheet. Liberally dust flour on work surface and on your hands.
- Carefully scrape the dough from the bowl to the floured work surface (you want to be gentle so that the dough doesn't deflate too much). Dust more flour over the top of the dough. Form the dough into a rectangular shape.
- Cut the dough into 16 pieces (a pizza cutter works well). With floured hands, transfer the rolls one at a time to the parchment lined baking sheet. This will be somewhat difficult; the dough is very loose. Let the rolls sit, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. During this time, bubbles will form under the surface.
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees while the rolls sit. Bake the rolls for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the rolls cool on a rack.
Ryan's rating of Ciabatta Bread - 5. I think the same goes for Dominic, who gobbled down a roll as soon as it was cool enough to handle.
1 - Awful. If you make this again I'll shove a fork in my eye.
2 - Meh. It's not my favorite, but I won't threaten self-harm if it shows up
3 - Good. I wouldn't feel forced to order a pizza behind your back.
4 - Great! I will fight you for the leftovers.
5 - Love it! Make it again tomorrow. Or immediately and I will bathe in