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.
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.