There is only one store near me that sells the kind of Ciabatta Rolls that I like and I haven’t been able to get over there lately. So today, while my little 6 month old granddaughter was here hanging out with me, I made the dough for these! I didn’t even need my mixer. I just stirred up the ingredients in a bowl using a wooden spoon. (The less the dough is handled, the better.)
This is a basic bread made from white flour and yeast. When baked, it has a crackly, crispy crust and is tender inside. WiseGeek tells us that “In Italian, ciabatta means ‘slipper.’ The name is a reference to the shape which does sort of resemble a slipper. It tends to be short and wide which makes it ideally suited for sandwiches.”
The thought of making artisan bread tends to scare people off. Don’t let it scare you. It is actually a whole lot easier than making other yeast breads because this does not require any kneading! It will look like this after rising for an hour or so. It is quite sticky. This is called a “slack” dough.
Even when shaping it into rolls, it just needs to be patted flat on a floured board and carefully cut into rectangles or squares.
I like to put these on parchment baking sheets, sprinkled with a little cornmeal and when they have risen and are ready to bake, I just slide it onto my pizza stone. (If you don’t have a pizza stone yet, you should ask for one for your birthday!)
Put the pizza stone in the oven while it’s preheating. These will come out of the oven looking like they were baked by a professional artisan baker. You will be so proud of yourself!
Measure 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour into a bowl. Add 3/4 t. salt, 1/2 t. yeast. Stir together the dry ingredients. Then add about 1 c. warm water (give or take) and stir it all together with a wooden spoon just until there is no dry flour. It should be a sticky dough, but not goopy. Cover with plastic wrap and let it stand for at least 4 hours. After it has been sitting a couple of hours, it will be really soft and sticky. You might think you have done it wrong, but that’s the way it’s supposed to look.
Flour an area on the counter top and pour the soft dough onto the flour. (Do not knead the dough or add any flour, except to sprinkle some on top of the dough so your fingers don’t stick to it.) Using your fingers, pat it into a 1/2″ thick rectangle and then cut it into 6 – 8 rolls. Set the rolls onto the back side of a baking sheet lined that has been lined with parchment and sprinkled with cornmeal. Allow to rest about 45 – 60 minutes, then, after they have rested, heat the oven to 500°. (No, that’s not a typo!) Place a small pan of hot water on the bottom rack while baking (this creates steam in the oven which gives it the crackly crust!) Bake about 10 – 12 minutes or until golden.