Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ciabatta Bread

Once in awhile I come across something that catches my interest, particularly because it's something new I can try & learn. Lately it's homemade bread.

In my blog reading, I came across this "one minute Bread" posting over at The recipe seemed simple enough, so I took it a step further and looked into some more authentic recipes at to see if they were any different. While true ciabatta bread seems to be a very lengthy process, I found one of the most popular recipes on the site was also quite simple. You can see the Ciabatta Bread recipe here.

Since this recipe calls for a bread machine, I took what I had learned elsewhere online and in the AllRecipes comments, and did without the machine. I also invested $1.25 in a water spray bottle which helps (more on that later). After a few loaves, here is what I ended up with:

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
3 1/4 cups bread flour (I used all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
Seasoning for topping the bread (rosemary/basil/oregano)

- Mix all ingredients in a bowl except the flour and mix well
- Add the flour and mix with a spoon until it turns into a stiff, sticky ball of dough
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 2-3 hours at room temperature or higher until it doubles in size (see photo at right)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
- Transfer the dough to a baking stone or heavily floured pan. The dough is very sticky, so using a spoon or spatula will do you more good than your hands. Shape the dough to the desired shape, usually a longer wide loaf
- Let the dough rise at least 45 minutes after putting it on the stone/pan. I didn't have a good way to cover it, so I misted it with water to prevent it from drying out while on the stone.
- Top the bread with any seasoning you like. I usually sprinkled on some more rosemary and some basil.
- Place into a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. For the first 15 minutes, spray the bread with water every few minutes. This keeps the outside soft enough to allow it to expand more in the oven, and supposedly gives you a better crispier crust.
- Allow bread to cool, and you'll have a delicious soft bread... that was relatively simple to make!

I personally like it warm with butter.