Monday, January 14, 2013

Ciabatta - Eating Grandma's Slipper!

Would you eat Grandma’s Slipper? Ehhh, you might! Ciabatta is an Italian bread that is named after grandma’s slipper, as it resembles that shape. Ciabatta has an unmistakable flavor and texture. It has a soft and very airy crumb, and a thin, yet crispy crust. Being so soft, this is an excellent bread for those who cannot tolerate very crunchy breads due to dental issues. Yet, it is absolutely delicious, and satisfies the desire for an artisan style bread.

Hot Ciabatta Rolls, fresh out of the oven
Ciabatta Rolls, Hot Out Of The Oven

Although Ciabatta is traditionally made in large loaves, I sometimes choose to make it into several smaller rolls, that would be fine for sandwiches. The process is pretty much the same. Traditionally, this is made with a starter, similar to sour dough, and then kneaded with a mixer. Mixing by hand is difficult, due to the dough being sticky. This used to be a pretty complicated bread to make. Not anymore! Today’s recipe is different from the way I have made it in the past.

Why is it different? Because it is absolutely easier to make, the results come out better and I am so thrilled to bring this to you, because anyone can do this… The reason for this is that it is a no knead recipe!

Here is what you will need:


• 5 cups all purpose flour

• ½ cup either whole wheat or semolina flour (for texture)

• 1 packet active dry yeast

• 1 Tbsp sugar

• 1 Tbsp sea salt

• 4 Tbsp Olive Oil

• 2 ½ cups warm water

• Corn Meal for sprinkling


Put warm water into a bowl and dissolve sugar in the water

Add the yeast and stir. Let it sit about 15 minutes. It should look a bit foamy.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir. If may first seem to wet and then too dry. Keep stirring. What you are looking for is a very wet dough. If it seems too dry, add a little warm water and stir it in.

After you have stirred, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the ciabatta dough sit for about 6 hours at room temperature. Then put it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, take the covered bowl of ciabatta dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit out at room temperature for another 6 hours.

By now, the ciabatta dough should look a like a very elastic, soft and bubbly dough. Generously flour a work surface and transfer the dough onto a work surface. Gently shape the dough into a long loaf.  I use a pastry board for the surface, to minimize the mess.

Ciabatta Bread Dough
Ciabatta Bread - Kind of looks like a large slipper

Place some parchment paper on a pan and then sprinkle some corn meal on top of the parchment paper.

If making rolls, cut the long loaf into six equal pieces. You will have to flour your hands when working with this ciabatta dough, as it is very soft and sticky. Roughly shape into rolls, as pictured and transfer to the pan with parchment paper, spacing the rolls out. You will have to reshape the rolls on the pan, due to the dough being so soft.

Ciabatta dough cut into six rolls
Ciabatta dough cut into six rolls

If making a single large ciabatta loaf, just transfer to the pan. Some people roll the ciabatta loaf onto some plastic wrap, then use the plastic wrap to transport the loaf to the pan. Then, they flip it over onto the pan and re-shape it once on the baking pan.

Now, I sprinkle the tops of the loaf or rolls with corn meal. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it sit to rise for 2 and a half hours. I sprinkle the top of the ciabatta, so that the plastic wrap does not stick to each loaf. If you can cover the loaves so that the wrap doesn’t touch the loaves, all the better.

The loaves will approximately double in size. They may look wider, but not much taller, that is ok.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake on the middle rack for about 35 minutes. Your house will smell amazing.

Remove and let cool. I usually can’t wait for it to cool, so I will eat some ciabatta hot with some butter.

As a variation to this basic ciabatta recipe, you can make some of the roasted garlic from the recipe I posted and when you form the loaf, you can put the roasted garlic into it, by first flattening you ciabatta dough, placing the roasted garlic on top, then forming the loaf as if making a jelly roll. The surface will need to be well floured, as this is sticky dough.

Another variation is to brush the tops of the dough gently before baking with olive oil. Then, grind a little sea salt on top before baking.

I hope you enjoyed this Italian recipe and give it a try. Please don’t be intimidated by baking bread. Bread baking takes time to make, but it is easy. The beauty of the no knead method is that the time you are ACTIVELY spending to make the dough is very minimized. Most of the time spent with this method is the ciabatta dough just sitting there, while you are doing something else. If you want to make it even better, let it sit two or four days in the refrigerator, instead of overnight. I usually can’t wait that long.

Enjoy this Italian bread! A nice glass of wine next to it is always a good idea!

No comments:

Post a Comment