Italian Ciabatta Bread/Rolls

The name Ciabatta is Italian and refers to the shape of this loaf, which is thought to be shaped like a slipper and is kind of rough looking and dimpled (like your husbands old slipper).  Ciabatta gets it’s flavor and texture from the slow development of the yeast,  which comes from the biga.  The biga must rest overnight, so plan ahead!

This recipe comes from Williams Sonoma and makes 2 loaves or 18 large rolls.  I decided to make rolls with 1/2 of the dough as my family loves the rolls for sandwiches. These rolls/loaf freeze excellent and can be used for hamburgers, cold sandwiches – pretty much and sandwich.  The loaf makes an excellent garlic bread to serve with your favorite pasta.  Enjoy!

For the Biga, combine in mixer bowl with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for a minute: (a Biga is like a Sponge, but stiffer)
1-1/3 cups water, at room temperature
1 cups Bread Flour
3/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast

Add to the mixer bowl and mix for another minute:
1-1/3 cups Bread Flour

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until almost tripled in bulk, 4 to 6 hours. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.

In the morning, take the starter out of the refrigerator and let stand, covered, at room temperature for 2 hours.

After the two hours, using the hook attachment, add to the bowl and mix for 1 minute to incorporate: (it will be very soupy)
3 Tabl. warm water (105° to 115°F)
3/4 cup warm milk (105° to 115°F)
2 tsp. Active, Dry Yeast

Add to the bowl and mix for 3 minutes:
1 cup Bread Flour
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tabl. Olive Oil


Add and mix for 5 minutes:
1-1/3 cups Bread Flour

The dough should be very soft and sticky, pulling away from the sides of the bowl but sticking to the bottom. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place 2 hours or until doubled.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter.  Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle the dough lightly with flour, and press it out using your fingertips into a rectangle – approx. 14″X5″.  Take one edge and fold into the center and then repeat with the other edge, so it looks like a letter, to make 3 layers. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the folding. Divide the dough into 2 and place each half on the prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.


After resting for 20 minutes, if you are making rolls, use a knife to cut the dough into rectangles (9 rolls from each 1/2 of the dough).  Place the rolls on a parchment lined sheet pan and press each rectangle down with your fingertips.  If you are making a loaf, use your fingertips to stretch and dimple the loaf into a rectangle approx. 10-12″ long and 6″ wide.

Again, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest until tripled in bulk, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Press the dough lightly again to accentuate the dimpling during the rising.  Remember that the dough will remain relatively flat.


Place a baking stone on the lower rack of  the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees.  I used my cast-iron grill, sprinkled with cornmeal.  If you don’t have a stone or grill, the bread will bake well on parchment lined baking sheets which is how I baked my rolls.  Pick up and place the dough on the HOT stone/grill. Bake until the loaves/rolls are golden brown, approx. 20-25 minutes.


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About bakingway

Baker/Pastry Chef for over 25 years.

Posted on January 27, 2011, in Breads, Recipes, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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