These ciabatta rolls are one of the first types of bread I learned to make, and still one of my favorites to bake. Since this dough uses a biga (a small portion of pre-fermented dough) that is allowed to rise and ferment overnight in the fridge before you make the final dough, these rolls have truly amazing flavor.
Another reason I love them is that there is really no shaping involved. The dough is a very wet dough, which means it has a high percentage of water relative to other ingredients. Once it has risen, you just dump it onto a heavily floured surface, cut it and stretch it a little and you are good to go. The lack of shaping and high water content also gives in interior full of large holes and a very light fluffy bread.
If you would like to learn some basics about bread baking, I have a mini tutorial in my post on sandwich bread. Baking bread can be intimidating at first, but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it, and it is such a satisfying hobby. Any hobby that ends in eating warm bread from the oven slathered in butter can’t be bad. 🙂
This recipe makes 8 rolls, but if you want loaves of bread instead, you can cut the dough into 2 pieces instead of 8, stretch them slightly and bake in the same manner. I love the rolls because they are perfect for sandwiches. I plan to use them to for dinner tonight!
For the biga:
- 1/4 cup room temp water
- 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 1/2 cup AP flour 77 grams
For the bread:
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp water
- 3/4 tsp instant yeast
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp AP flour 255 grams
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
For the biga:
- This step needs to be done the day before you plan to bake the bread.
- Combine the water, yeast, and flour in a small bowl and mix with a fork until it comes together. Incorporate all the loose flour into the mass, but it doesn't need to be smooth.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 1 hour, then put into the fridge for 8-16 hours.
For the bread:
- Remove the biga from the fridge and let sit for 15-30 min to warm up a bit.
- Place in the stand mixer with the other dough ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until a mass forms.
- Knead on high with the dough hook until it comes together. This will take 12-15 minutes. This dough should start out looking almost like pancake batter due to the high water content. If you have a solid ball of dough at the start you need to add a bit more water.
- It will seem like it isn't going to come together, but be patient. Once the gluten starts to from it will come together into a ball. Once it is smooth, stretchy and shiny and in a ball, you are done.
- Place in a dough bucket or bowl sprayed with oil spray.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 2-3 hours until it is almost tripled.
- One hour before baking, place a pizza steel or baking stone in the oven at 475. Also place a cast iron pan or other oven safe pan on the lower rack.
- Generously flour the counter and gently turn out the dough. You don't want to deflate it so handle gently. Sprinkle more flour on the top so it doesn't stick at all.
- Cut into 8 pieces and gently stretch each piece, again being careful not to deflate too much. If there are large air bubbles you can gently deflate the really big ones with your finger. Place on the back of a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until bubbly, about 30-45 minutes.
- Transfer to the pizza steel on the parchment. Pour about 1/2 cup of water into the lower pan in the oven to create steam. Also spray the tops with water.
- Allow to bake for 10-15 minutes for rolls or 25 min for loaves. This depends heavily on your oven so adjust the time accordingly. Rolls should be starting to brown and fully cooked but you don't want to over bake them.
- Remove from oven to a cooling rack and cool completely.