In case you haven’t noticed, our family table accommodates many different personalities and food choices. Among us, we have meat lovers and vegetarians, those with simpler palates and those with more adventurous palates. Of course, our taste in challah varies, as well.
We have some who love the sweet refined taste of a traditional challah and those who opt for a more rustic ciabatta type of challah. The hallmark of this delicious ciabatta bread is the crusty exterior with large air pocket holes on the inside. This recipe will truly wow you for its simplicity and deliciousness. The most important and valued ingredient in this recipe is time as it requires slow overnight rising of at least 12 hours.
I like to start this recipe Thursday night and bake it Friday afternoon.
3 cups of high-gluten or bread flour
1/4 teaspoon of yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 1/3 cups of water
a sprinkling of additional bench flour or corn meal
Mix together flour, yeast and salt and slowly add water. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined into a sticky dough.
Cover the bowl and let rise at room temperature overnight for 12 to 18 hours. The dough is ready when it there are bubbles and it has at least doubled in size.
Using a scraper, gently move the dough onto a generously floured surface. The dough will be very sticky as you remove it from the bowl, but try to keep it in one piece. Use the scraper to form a round ball of dough.
Gently move the ball of dough to a lint-free towel generously sprinkled with flour or corn meal. Lightly sprinkle more flour or cornmeal on the top of the dough. Carefully wrap the dough in the towel and let it continue to rise in a warm area for 1-2 hours.
Preheat a heavy pot or pan in a 450 degree F oven for fifteen minutes. Carefully remove preheated pan from oven (it will be very hot) and place dough into pan. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20-25 minutes more.
Remove Ciabatta from pan and allow to cool before slicing.
Substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of bread flour for a healthier variation
Add walnuts, raisins and/or craisins to the dough for a nutty and fruity option