After weeks of trying every Ciabatta recipe I could get my hands on, I think I’ve found something that works! Ciabatta is one of favorite breads — after sourdough — but it’s been really difficult to bake because of its unique traits: crunchy crust, light and holey on the inside. It’s also an incredibly wet dough that has to proof at least overnight so working with it requires some patience, something I’m not quite familiar with.
Tip #1: When working with this dough, be gentle and only touch it when necessary. Be efficient. Unnecessary movement in the dough will cause the gas bubbles to collapse and you’ll lose the big holes Ciabatta is known for in the final product.
I can’t share the recipe I am using, but I will leave you some tips and a video that I found to be very helpful. A lot of recipes out there require you to make a sponge beforehand, which makes baking Ciabatta a two-part, two-day process with two mixes. I didn’t find that this extra time or energy was worth it.
Tip #2: Proofing bread is much, much easier during the summer time or when your kitchen is warm. My kitchen is, sadly, always freezing! Good thing I have a proof box. Google make-shift proof boxes.
Tip #3: Get a cooling rack. They say the cooling process is the actual last step and not to be skipped! So even though it’s hard to resist, hands off until the bread is cooled.
I initially started baking just plain, white Ciabatta, which is great for sandwich bread – especially if you have a panini grill! But I also wanted a bread that stood on it’s own so I needed a little more flavor. If you’re interested in herbs, find any dried spices that you like or already have in your kitchen. Rosemary, basil, or oregano all work. Just mix in with the rest of the ingredients until incorporated.
Tip #4: Always have butter on-hand. Spread generously on bread and enjoy!
Good luck! Let me know how it goes :)