If you have wanted to try sourdough summer might be a good time to begin if you have the time.
Ciabatta is one of my family's favorite breads, but I don't think I've ever shared the recipe with you. I've tried numerous recipes, this sourdough version being our current favorite.
The name ciabatta comes from the Italian word for slipper. The dough is very wet and can't be kneaded or shaped like typical dough. The goal is a rough shaped rustic loaf, the size a man's shoe with an interior full of large airy holes. Sometimes I make that goal and other times the loaf is more flat, but at my house even flops don't last long.
I doubt any Italian baker would add whole grain flour to their ciabatta but we like this combination of white and whole wheat. Using all white flour should allow you to gain even greater holes in the crumb.
2 cups active starter
2 cups water
1 T oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients except salt together for two minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes (also called the autolysis). Add salt and mix dough for five more minutes at the lowest speed on your mixer. Dough should be sticky, like a thick batter, and you would not be able to knead it by hand.
With a wet spatula, dump the dough into a well oiled bowl, cover, and allow to sit at room temperature for four hours. Every hour, with wet hands, stretch and fold the dough over itself. Pour the dough out onto a VERY well floured surface. Divide the dough into half with a knife or dough blade. Do not knead. You do not want to add more flour to this wet dough or deflate the bubbles that have formed.
Keeping your hands under the dough, stretch it slightly and fold the dough over itself. Now the top and bottom should be well floured. Carefully place the dough onto a well-oiled baking sheet. Do the same for the second loaf and allow both to rise for 1-2 hours or until the loaves are nice and puffy.
Preheat the oven at 450 degrees. Place in loaves hot oven. Place roasting pan lid over bread if desired. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 425 degrees, turn loaves around, remove roasting pan lid, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
Cool and enjoy! My family loves ciabatta with an herb dipping oil.
You can find all my sourdough information, tips, and many more recipes on the sourdough page.