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.