Ciabatta is a classic Italian white loaf which has a thin crust and is a very light-textured, airy loaf and is wonderfully versatile. It’s brilliant to use for sandwiches, to have with soups, use as a base for garlic bread, as an accompaniment to a main meal, or simply wonderful dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- 500g Strong White Bread Flour
- 10g Salt
- 10g Instant Yeast
- 40ml Oilve Oil, plus extra for oiling
- 400ml Tepid Water
- Fine Semolina, for dusting (optional)
Firstly, coat the inside of a 2-3 litre plastic container with olive oil, making sure to oil the sides as well.
In a stand mixer with a dough hook, add in the flour to the bowl along with the salt and yeast. Make sure to keep the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl, otherwise the salt could kill the yeast.
Add in the olive oil and 3/4's of the water, and start mixing with the stand mixer on a low speed.
As the dough comes to gether, gradually add in the rest of the water - you may not need it all depending on the flour you're using.
Turn the stand mixer up to a medium speed and let the dough knead for around 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and stretchy.
Scrape the dough into the oiled plastic container - making sure it's sitting pretty level in the container - and place on the lid of the container. If the container doesn't have a lid, then cover it with a tea towel. Leave to prove for 1 - 2 hours until the dough is doubled or even trebled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/390°F/Gas Mark 6 and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
Heavily flour a work surface and add some semolina as well if you have it.
Very gently tip the dough onto the floured surface, being as careful as you can as to not knock the air out. Unlike most doughs, you want to keep the air in after the initial prove.
Flour a dough-cutter or a knife and cut the dough - lengthwise - into two pieces.
Very carefully transfer both pieces of dough onto the baking sheet, making sure keep the dough a nice oblong shape, and leave to rest for 10 - 20 minutes.
Dust the loaves with flour and semoline and place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the loaves are golden brown and hollow sounding. Leave to cool on a wire rack.