Ciabatta Bread

Credit to my dear friend, Nancy who introduced me to this recipe. Ciabatta Bread is made from fermented dough... just like Sourdough. The fermentation process pre-digests much of the bacteria that our bodies have difficulty digesting; therefore many of those who find themselves gluten intolerant discover that they can still enjoy this type of fermented bread. Ciabatta is a very wet and sticky dough. The secret to handling this dough is to have very wet hands when you shape the rustic looking loaves. Ciabatta bread is a fantastic choice when making panini-style sandwiches and is delicious when served with soups and stews. 

In a large mixing bowl combine:

4 cups bread flour

1/4 teaspoon yeast (not rapid rising yeast)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Add 2 cups of warm water to the flour, yeast and salt. Mix together using a spatula or the paddle attachment on a stand mixer. Place plastic wrap over bowl and allow dough to rise in a warm place overnight.

The next morning grease two cookie sheets or line them with a silpat. Stir dough down and divide in half. With wet hands, shape dough into 2 loaves that are 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Loaves can be long or rounded. Cover loaves with a clean towel and allow to rise for at least 2 hours (Note: I have found that a 3 to 4 hour rise time produces larger and more flavorful loaves).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Moisten the towel-covered loaves with a spray bottle filled with water. This will make it easy to remove towels as they will stick to the wet dough.

Beat a room temperature egg together with 1 tablespoon water. Gently brush egg mixture onto loaves. Mist loaves again with water.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until loaves are golden in color. Move loaves to a rack and allow to cool before slicing.