This straightforward ciabatta recipe is relatively easy and satisfying to make To get that classic ciabatta shape and open texture, you need a very wet and sloppy dough, so you really have to make it in an electric mixer. Serve this thin-crusted, light-textured bread warm for breakfast, with soups or salads, or split, toasted and filled with salami, prosciutto or cheese for an Italian-style sandwich.
Makes 4 Prep 2 hours Bake 25 minutes
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
10g instant yeast
40ml olive oil
400 ml tepid water
Fine semolina for dusting (optional)
1.Lightly oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container. (It’s important to use a square tub as it helps shape the dough).
2. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Add the olive oil and three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water. Then mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is smooth and stretchy.
3. Tip the dough into the prepared tub, cover with a tea towel and leave until at least doubled, even trebled in size – 1-2 hours or longer.
4. Heat your oven to 220°C and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment or silicone paper.
5. Dust your work surface heavily with flour – add some semolina too, if you have some. Carefully tip out the dough (it will be very wet) onto the work surface, trying to retain a rough square shape. Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. Coat the top of the dough with more flour and/or semolina. Cut the dough in half lengthways and divide each half lengthways into 2 strips. You should now have 4 pieces of dough. Stretch each piece of dough lengthways a little and place on prepared baking trays.
6. Leave the ciabatta dough to rest for a further 10 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.
Taken from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake, published by Bloomsbury
Photograph © Peter Cassidy