Ciabatta, Italian Slipper Bread

by Michelle on January 29, 2011

Ciabatta; literally “carpet slipper”; is an Italian white bread made with wheat flour and yeast. The loaf is somewhat elongated, broad and flattish. Its name is the Italian word for slipper. Ciabatta in its modern form was developed in 1982. Since the late 1990s it has been popular across Europe and in the United States, and is widely used as a sandwich bread.

Ciabatta is one of my very favorite breads to make and in the last year I’ve probably made it close to a dozen times. But, to date, my crumb is still too tight! Sounds sort of obscene, doesn’t it? The first time I read this phrase, I had no idea what they were talking about! But Ciabatta should have huge holes in the interior of the bread…big, luscious holes that capture olive oil and butter ie: Open Crumb. Although my Ciabatta tastes wonderful, I am still trying to perfect the holes! Darn it!

As I mixed the dough, I almost added another 1/4 cup of water and I probably should have but I didn’t. You see a wet, sticky dough will produce a very open crumb which means lots of big holes. Although my dough was wet and sticky, it was not quite sticky enough. All flours absorb water at different rates, so you can’t always just follow a recipe to get the desired results. And even though I added more water then the recipe called for, I should have added even more!

But my loaves rose beautifully and baked to perfection!

Ciabatta, Italian Slipper Bread
Recipe adapted from “Bread Bakers Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart

For the Poolish:
1 1/2 c Flour
1 1/2 c Water
1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast (I used 1/2 oz fresh yeast)

For the Ciabatta dough:
3 1/4 c Poolish, basically all the poolish from above recipe
3 c Flour
2 tsp Active Dry Yeast ( I used 1 oz fresh yeast)
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 c water (I added about 2 TBL more water but I think I should have added 1/4 c)
4 tbsp Olive Oil

Prepare the Poolish:
1. In a larger bowl, add the yeast to the lukewarm water and keep aside for 10 minutes until it bubbles up. Add the flour and mix. Cover with a plastic wrap or a towel until poolish get really bubbly and frothy on top. This takes me about 2-6 hours. Pour the poolish into an tupperware-like container with a lid and refrigerate over night.

Prepare the Ciabatta Dough:
2. Take the poolish out of the fridge and let it rest for at least 1 hour.
3. In the bowl of your KA mixer combine the yeast with 1/2 c. warm water and let sit until yeast dissolves.
4. With the mixer fitted with a dough hook and running add the flour, salt, olive oil and mix until it comes together. Dough should clear the sides of the bowl and wrap itself around the dough hook.
5. With the mixer running, add the poolish and mix for a few minutes. Dough should be very wet and sticky and if you life up your dough hook, the dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl. Sorry the below photo is a bit blurry but hopefully you can see how wet the dough is. If in doubt, add a 1-2 TBL of water and combine.

6. Flour the counter or pastry cloth. Transfer dough to the counter and with a dough scraper or knife divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Stretch the dough to a rectangle about quarter of an inch thick. Fold the dough over itself like letter. Stretch into a 8″ by 8″ rectangle again. Repeat this stretch and letter fold. Mist the top of the dough with some oil. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
7. If you have a couche cloth: Spread a cloth on a smooth surface. At intervals, about 4″-5″, about the width of a ciabatta, raise the cloth to form divisions.

I don’t have a couche so I use parchment paper and some heavy kitchen gadgets and small prep bowls for a makeshift couche (see about photo) : Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Take additional sheets of parchment paper and fold it so that it will support the sides of each Ciabatta and secure with a long, heavy object like a knife or long handled spatula. Cover and let it rise for 2 hours until doubled in size.
8. If you are using a couche; Transfer loaves to a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal/ semolina. If you are using a homemade couche which is already on a baking sheet, just remove the extra parchment between the loaves.
9. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until loaves turn golden brown on both the top and bottom. If you’re using an Instant Read Thermometer, the bread should be done when the internal temperature equals 202-205 degrees.
10. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

AllRightsReserved@BigBlackDog

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Comments

  • Kayte January 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Love making this bread as well, I have only done the BBA version but always thrills me because my shape always comes out so great…they look exactly like those ballet slippers that are unique to that area of Italy where the bread originated. Such a thrill. Those slippers always look so odd and unique and the bread looks that way, too. YUM, yours looks delicious. The crumb looks nice to me, more bread, less holes is a good thing when you are eating it!! ;-)

  • Danielle January 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    ciabatta must be in the air. I made some last weekend (used the recipe in the KA cookbook) and I ended up with a rather flat bread…..not sure what I did wrong. and I didn’t have a nice open crumb either. But…I’m not giving up. Next stop….this recipe!! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Margaret January 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    My crumb is always tite too. Still working on it. But the taste of this bread is SOOO good. Will have to try this version.

  • Jane Bonacci - The Heritage Cook January 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    This is wonderful! Ciabatta is one of my favorites and I love how you show the way to keep the loaves separated with ordinary household items. Brava!!

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michelle Safirstein, lonebaker. lonebaker said: Look fab! RT @BigBlackDogs Ciabatta, Italian Slipper Bread, one of my very favorites breads to make and to eat! http://tinyurl.com/498o4kb [...]

  • zerrin January 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I’ve been trying different recipes of bread these days. And I used warm milk instead of water in all of them. Yours have bigger holes than mine, so I will use water next time. Thanks for the idea!

  • rebecca January 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    you make the best breads wow looks so good

  • Marnie January 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I love Ciabatta bread! I have only managed to get big holes once but that was cooking it in a covered pottery dish. The holes were great and the bread was done, as far as I could tell, but it was way too moist. it was almost wet. Weird. Your bread looks wonderful!

  • Barbara Bakes January 29, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    It looks great! I just want to reach in and grab a slice and slather it with butter and jam.

  • Sheila January 30, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Looks great!

  • Shelby January 30, 2011 at 5:53 am

    Gorgeous loaves of bread!

  • SMITH BITES January 30, 2011 at 7:47 am

    wonderful job! have never made ciabatta myself but buy it a couple of times/month!

  • mister anchovy January 30, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I wonder if the way you proof the bread (temperature and length of time) affects the tightness of the crumb?

  • A Canadian Foodie January 30, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    SO cool! I just posted my ciabatta learned through Richard Bertinet – a little different than this, but the same idea! Great Timing!
    Your friend in all things yeasty!
    Valerie

  • Jeanette January 30, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    What a beautiful rise. I wonder if this would work with white whole wheat flour.

  • Meatball Salad January 31, 2011 at 12:06 am

    [...] I had just baked Ciabatta, Italian slipper bread and it was just hot out of the oven, the Meatball Salad would be just [...]

  • Elwood February 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Forget the crumb, that bread looks delish! I’m taking a bread baking class starting this Saturday and our first breads are Ciabbatta and other high hydration doughs. Hope mine turns out as good as yours.

  • Guff February 3, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Although I love your gadget couche, get yourself some 1×2′s! (and duct tape) Also, as a follow-up to your ATK red sauce, I think in the same episode they made a Ciabatta. See http://www.americastestkitchen.com/episodes/detail.php?docid=23135

  • judy February 3, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Looks just great! I think the crumb looks beautiful. Thanks for the tips on using parchment paper to keep the shape. I hope to try your tips soon.

  • clarice February 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I know what you mean about the crumb, I haven’t achieved it yet with ciabatta, either. However, I’m sure yours is delicious, and that’s the main thing!

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