I absolutely love a ciabatta loaf. It has a great open and airy crumb, perfect chewy texture, and a thin and crispy crust. It’s a perfect dinner or soup bread. Not really meant for making sandwiches or slicing for toast. It’s definitely a grab-a-hunk-and-stuff-it-in-your-mouth kind of bread.
And it’s incredibly simple to make at home. Ciabatta, by nature, is a very wet dough, which is why it has that revered open crumb. The hydration for ciabatta ranges from 75% to 80%, though I’ve seen some crazy people use 85% hydration. It is almost impossible to fully develop the gluten, especially in a home kitchenaid style mixer. Our countertop mixers, although versatile and fantastic, just aren’t optimized for bread mixing, and this is an example where that shows. A stiff preferment is necessary to help out with developing the gluten structure. Read the rest of this entry »