The soup recipe I was making tonight suggested serving it alongside “plentiful ciabatta bread for dipping.” I remembered that my new Williams-Sonoma Bread cookbook had a recipe for ciabatta, so I figured why bother buying it when I could make it?
Well, I now know why people buy ciabatta. Baking this bread is a lengthy and involved process. First you mix a starter the day before, let that rise for a few hours before refrigerating overnight. Then this morning I took it out of the refrigerator to get to room temperature, added the rest of the ingredients, and kneaded it in my KitchenAid stand mixer. Then it rises for a few more hours, is shaped into two loaf-like shapes, allowed to rise another few hours, before finally being baked. I feel as if I spent my entire weekend working on this bread.
On the plus side, my first foray into homemade ciabatta was delicious, and resulted in two very large loafs. It was a great crusty bread to accompany our soup with. However, I can’t say it is going to be a regular item on our menu. Anything that requires that much work will be more of a special occasion treat. If you want to try this recipe yourself, it can be found online here.