Wednesday, August 1, 2012


This Italian ciabatta bread goes great with any pasta dish! It's amazing dipped in olive oil with a bit of black pepper like they do at some Italian restaurants such as Romano's Macaroni Grill. Be very careful with this recipe as a 450 degree oven is extremely hot and steamy, so use caution to avoid getting burned. Also, I found that the parchment paper sticks to the bread dough and bakes into it, so you may need to cut off the bottom crust of the finished product. I'm going to be working on finding a better technique that won't stick to either the baking stone or the bread soon, and I'll be sure to post an update as soon as I find one! I used an overturned baking sheet instead of an actual baking stone, however, so maybe that's the problem. If you own a baking stone and try this recipe, let me know in the comments what you find!

Notes: Two tablespoons of nonfat milk powder can be used in place of the liquid milk; increase the amount of water in the dough to 1 cup. As you make this bread, keep in mind that the dough is wet and very sticky. The key to manipulating it is working quickly and gently; rough handling will result in flat, tough loaves. When possible, use a large rubber spatula or bowl scraper to move the dough. If you have to use your hands, make sure they are well floured. Because the dough is so sticky, it must be prepared in a stand mixer. If you don’t have a baking stone, bake the bread on an overturned and preheated rimmed baking sheet set on the lowest oven rack. The bread will keep for up to 2 days, well wrapped and stored at room temperature. To recrisp the crust, place the unwrapped bread in a 450-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes. The bread will keep frozen for several months wrapped in foil and placed in a large zipper-lock bag. Thaw the bread at room temperature and recrisp using the instructions above.


Makes: 2 loaves


1/8 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)


1. For the biga: Combine flour, yeast, and water in medium bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours).

2. For the dough: Place biga and dough ingredients in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed until roughly combined and shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute; scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Continue mixing on medium-low speed until dough becomes uniform mass that collects on paddle and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 6 minutes. Change to dough hook and knead bread on medium speed until smooth and shiny (dough will be very sticky), about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. 

3. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough six more times (total of eight turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes longer. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.


Recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen.

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