I know, I know.
You’re wondering what the hell “slipper bread” means.
I did, too.
Apparently, its supposed to look like a slipper.
I mean…if mine was supposed to it sure as hell didn’t. Mine looks more like a clog. But it tasted damn good, which is the most important thing here. Let’s stick with priorities.
This bread is crusty on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and makes a really good sandwich bread. It’s also perfect for ripping apart in pieces and dipping in fun herb oils.
Keep in mind this is a two day process. You first make what’s called a “biga”, which is basically a dough sponge that sits for a day and then is incorporated into the rest of the ingredients the next day. It’s actually very easy, especially if you have a stand mixer – it does all the work.
This is David’s recipe from Leite’s Culinaria – it just seemed straight forward and he has lots of good advice. Make sure to click on the link in the printable recipe below and make sure to read David’s tips – this is still a work in progress for me and I will be going back to his post next time for reminders to improve my technique. The only thing I did differently is omit the cornmeal. I’m pretty happy with mine this time, but I definitely have to improve my technique. I thinly sliced one of the loaves the next morning and made a grilled ham, egg and cheese with fresh herbs and it was insanely delicious.
Forgive the poor photo but sometimes you gotta take it so you don’t miss it.
This was such a damn good breakfast.
Here’s your printable-
Authentic Ciabatta (Italian Slipper Bread)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 5 tablespoons warm milk
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons water, at room temperature (if using a food processor, use cold water)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the bowl
- 2 very full cups biga, rested for 12 hours
- 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Stir the yeast into the milk in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
- Add the water, oil, and biga and mix with the paddle until blended.
- Mix the flour and salt, add to the bowl, and mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Change to the dough hook and knead for 2 minutes at low speed, then 2 minutes at medium speed. The dough will be very sticky. Knead briefly on a well-floured surface, adding as little flour as possible, until the dough is still sticky but beginning to show evidence of being velvety, supple, springy, and moist.
- Place the ciabatta dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours. The dough should be full of air bubbles, supple, elastic, and sticky.
- Turn the ciabatta dough onto a generously floured surface and cut it into 4 equal portions.
- Roll each portion into a cylinder, then stretch each cylinder into a rectangle about 10 by 4 inches, pulling with your fingers to get each portion of dough long and wide enough.
- Generously flour 4 pieces of parchment paper placed on peels or upside-down baking sheets. Place each loaf, seam side up, on a piece of parchment.
- Dimple the loaves vigorously with your fingertips or knuckles so that they won’t rise too much. Cover the loaves loosely with damp towels and let rise until puffy but not doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and slide 2 baking stones on the center rack to heat.
- Carefully invert each loaf onto a stone. If the dough sticks a bit to the parchment, just gently work it free from the paper. If you need to, you can leave the paper and remove it 10 minutes later.
- Bake for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water in the first 10 minutes. Transfer the loaves of ciabatta to wire racks to cool.