Few things are better than freshly baked bread, and this Italian ciabatta recipe is definitely one to add to your collection. A classic Italian bread, ciabatta has a rustic appearance and an elegant flavor. It is perfect for making panzanella, bruschetta, and sandwiches, as well as for simply dipping in olive oil or for making homemade garlic bread.
This bread is flat and long and resembles the shape of a slipper, hence its name. I made Ciabatta bread for my recipe called Panino Italiano. Don’t be afraid of making fresh, homemade bread; it is so simple just to mix up some flour and water … and there is nothing like the aroma of fresh bread baking in your kitchen, which will make your whole family hungry.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the yeast into the water and let sit 5 minutes.
Add 3 cups flour and the salt and mix, using the paddle attachment, until just combined.
Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until dough is elastic (or remove dough from bowl and knead by hand for 15 minutes). Shape dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or damp tea towel, and let rise at room temperature until it has doubled, about 3 hours.
Punch down the risen dough and divide into two pieces. Roll each piece into a 1/2-inch-thick, foot-long rectangle and place about 4 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with lightly-floured parchment paper. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400° F for 15 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap and, with a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal slits in the dough.
Place in the oven, reduce heat to 375° F, and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Remove the bread and place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.
Store the ciabatta wrapped in brown or parchment paper in a cool, dark place.