This is my sourdough version of the classic Italian ciabatta, the wonderful rustic bread known for its light and airy crumb, simply perfect for panini sandwiches. I prepare my sourdough with rye flour – hence the slightly darker color of the ciabatta – but you can easily replace it with any type of flour. What matters are the proportions and your patience. Click here to find out how I am preparing my sourdough starter.
Try also my other sourdough breads:
Sourdough CiabattaCourse: Breakfast, BrunchCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium
The rustic Italian bread with a light and airy crumb, perfect for panini sandwiches.
100 g / 3.5 oz (1/2 cup) active sourdough
400 g / 14.1 oz (1 2/3 cups) warm water
250 g / 8.8 oz (2 cups+1 tablespoon) bread flour
250 g / 8.8 oz (2 cups+1 tablespoon) all-purpose flour
9 g (1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
oil, for coating
- Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine sourdough, water, flours and salt. Knead by hand until a shaggy and sticky dough has formed. Cover with a damp towel and set aside to rest for 1 hour.
- After the dough has rested, knead the dough using a mixer – fitted with dough hooks – at medium speed, for 10 – 15 minutes. The dough will continue to be sticky, but after kneading, it will become smooth and shiny. Transfer the dough into a new bowl, lightly covered with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Stretch and fold: To stretch and fold your dough first dip your hand in water. It will prevent the dough from sticking to your hand. Then push your hand deep under the dough, pull the dough to you and fold it over the rest of the dough. Repeat the process from all sides until the whole dough is folded and lies round and tight in the bowl. Repeat this technique 3 – 4 times, spaced 15 – 30 minutes apart. After each stretching and folding cover the bowl again and set aside.
When stretching and folding is complete, cover the bowl with a lid or plastic food wrap and let the dough mature and rise at room temperature for about 7 – 10 hours. The dough should double or tripple in size.
- Shape the dough: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and generously dust with flour. Gently transfer the dough onto a heavily floured workspace. With floured hands and using a bench scraper for help, gently fold the dough in half, creating a rectangle and taking care not to deflate the air bubbles. Let the dough rest again for 10 minutes. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into 2 pieces. Transfer each piece to the prepared baking sheet. Using your fingers, make dimples all over the dough. Cover the dough and let it proof for 1 hour. The dough won’t rise very much at this stage, but this is typical of ciabatta.
- Preheat the oven to 500 F / 260 C. Place a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) on the bottom rack to heat up.
- Bake: Push a floured hand under the dough and flip it over so that the dimpled side faces down. This step helps to redistribute the air bubbles during baking. Pour about 250 ml (1cup) of water into the hot pan to create steam. Immediately place the ciabatta on the center rack, then reduce the heat to 425 F / 220 C. Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool down 1 hour before slicing.
- Ciabatta is best enjoyed the day it’s made. To prolong freshness, store it covered in a plastic bag, inside a bread box.