Prep 16 hrs
Cook 20 mins
DH and I buy at least one loaf a week of ciabatta and eat it with olive oil. I finally decided to see it I could make a better bread than the brands we've tried from the store. We agreed that this is the best bread we've EVER had! The first loaf was gobbled before the second one came out of the oven! :) Can't wait to make it again!! Note: The dough will be VERY sticky - do not add more flour. The bread itself is not tall and fluffy. It has a wonderfully crisp, tender crust. It would be perfect for an Italian sandwich, if cut horizontally, of mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and s&p.
- Make sponge: Stir together, warm water and yeast.
- Let stand 5 minutes, until creamy.
- Transfer yeast mixture to another bowl and add room-temp water and flour.
- Stir for 4 minutes.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
- Let stand at cool room temp at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
- Make bread: Stir together yeast and milk in small bowl and let stand 5 minutes, until creamy.
- In bowl of standing electric mixer, with dough hook, blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil and flour at low speed until flour is moistened.
- Beat on medium for 3 minutes.
- Add salt and beat for 4 more minutes.
- Scrape dough into oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap, until doubled- about 1 1/2 hours.
- Note: Dough will be VERY sticky and full of bubbles.
- Cut two pieces of parchment paper, approx 12 inches by 6 inches.
- Place on baking sheet and flour well.
- Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and cut in half.
- Transfer each half to paper and form irregular ovals approx 9 inches long.
- Dip fingers in flour and dimple loaves.
- Dust tops with flour.
- Cover with dampened kitchen towel and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until almost doubled.
- At least 45 minutes before baking bread, pre-heat pizza stone on lowest oven rack position at 425°F.
- Transfer 1 loaf, along with parchment paper, onto stone and bake for 20 minutes or until pale golden.
- Remove to cooling racks and repeat with second loaf.
I've used this exact recipe for a long time now. It's the best bread ever! I got the recipe from an old Gourmet magazine. My loaves bake up fine. I spray water on the hot oven floor to make a nice crust on the bread... and if you don't have a stone.. you can go to your local home improvement center and get unglazed quarry tiles to line your oven rack.
This recipe is incredible! I've never made bread from a starter before, but after this experience an entirely new and heady world of breadmaking has been opened to me at last, at long last!! Every hour it took to rise was worth it. I made each loaf differently. The first was just as the recipe stated. The second I worked in a good amount of olive oil into the dimples, sprinkled some fresh oregano & thyme, and grated Parmiagiano-Reggiano (a good amount) on top. The first loaf had an exquisitely soft top- much softer than I had imagined it would be. But its the taste in this bread that is just incredible. Chewy, yeasty, and filled with that 'just-right' amount of crunch on the bottom. The second loaf was harder on the top, and thusly more crunchy throughout, but just as good as the first. There may be a couple of pieces of bread left from last night- but neither my husband nor myself or talkin' about it! ;)
Lisa, this makes wonderful bread. I just made the batch and I've already eaten 1/4 of a loaf with EV olive oil and sea salt. Thank you very much for posting!