There are three loaves of ciabatta proofing in the kitchen right this very second. I can hardly wait to bake’em! Though to be honest I had more than a little trouble handling such a slack, sticky dough. It’s been a while for me. But, a few times through the process is all it’ll take to get my sea legs back (a bakery I used to work in produced stirato, a close relative of ciabatta, every night).
What I find so interesting about ciabatta is the way in which it’s taken over the Italian bread world in such a short period of time. In 1960, scarcely a soul outside the Lake Como region had ever even heard of the stuff. Yet here we are not even fifty years later and ciabatta is practically the national bread of Italy. What’s behind its appeal?
One guess is that it’s mostly crust, which makes it both very textural and very flavorful. Being as flat a it is, it’s also great for sandwiches. You just slice it horizontally and pile on the good stuff. You get plenty of great bread flavor without having to eat a large volume of crumb.
Then again you can just cut it in pieces and dip it in oil and pepper flakes. Which is what I’m going to do in about sixteen minutes.