A classic Italian ciabatta bread, flavoured with olive oil, with a light and open texture and lots of uneven holes running through it. This open texture is achieved by making a softer and wetter dough than normal and using a slightly different method of kneading which incorporates plenty of air bubbles. Instead of turning the dough out onto a floured surface, use floured hands to knead or ‘beat’ the sticky dough in the bowl incorporating as much air as you can.
- 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend dried yeast
- 300g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1tsp sugar
- 1tsp salt
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 225ml hand hot water
Mix together the yeast, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the oil and water. Mix to a very soft and wet dough – the mixture should be almost like a thick batter.
Using floured hands ‘beat’ the dough in the bowl for at least 5 mins. Use a pulling and stretching action, slapping the dough back down into the bowl – this will help to create pockets of air. If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour.
Cover the bowl with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 1-1½hrs until the dough has doubled in size.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and shape into an oblong loaf without re-kneading. Place on a floured baking sheet and cover and leave to rise for 30 mins. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
Uncover the dough and bake for 25-30 mins until crisp and pale golden.
Top tip for making Ciabatta
This bread is best eaten warm from the oven. Serve sliced with virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping as a delicious snack or starter.