Ciabatta buns are wonderfully crispy and chewy on the outside, but light and airy in the middle, offering larger holes which are perfect for mopping up the juice of stews and soups! For the inexperienced breadmaker, these rolls might seem overwhelming at first, but they’re actually simple to make!
The key to a decent ciabatta roll is the overnight starter. The longer the yeast works, the better flavor the bread will have, as this is a fermented yeast bread. Bonus- the natural organic acids released by the fermented yeast also help the bread stay fresh longer (so these rolls store considerably longer than regular yeast breads!).
Traditional Ciabatta bread doesn’t contain fat because it’s used to absorb herbed balsamic vinegar and oil as an appetizer. This recipe does use a little bit of olive oil because it’s used to serve sandwiches and burgers. It gives the bread a slightly chewy texture.
A note about measuring, you’ll notice that we measure our flour in ounces rather than using a regular dry measuring cup. You can learn more about that here.
Ciabatta Buns Recipe
Place the following in a mixing bowl:
6 1/4 ounces Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup room temperature water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
Mix until well combined. Cover the starter bowl with a clean, lint-free dry cloth and let it rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours. It will become bubbly and double in size overnight.
Next day, add the following to the risen starter:
2 teaspoons instant yeast
12.75 ounces of unbleached all-purpose flour (3 cups)
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons powdered milk
2/3 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
Beat at medium speed, using the flat beater, for 7 minutes. The dough will be very smooth, soft, shiny, and elastic. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl that has been lightly greased, cover it with a dry lint-free cloth and let it rise an hour.
After 1 hour Gently deflate the dough with your fingers, but do not knead it. Cover the dough and allow it to rise another hour. Do not skip this process.
Turn the dough onto a lightly greased work surface (a large cookie sheet works great for this!) and roll it into a rectangle. Cut it into 12 equal size squares (about 2 1/4 ounces each)
Lightly cover the rolls with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with homemade non-stick spray and let them rise about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425F
Spritz the rolls with water, dimple the tops with your finger, and bake 18-20 minutes.
For those of you wondering why we use unbleached all-purpose flour, rather than bread flour, this is because bread flour contains more gluten, which results in a firmer, chewier end product. That would be perfect for a loaf of french bread, but not so great for tender sandwich rolls.
For high altitude baking, decrease the yeast amount by 25% (and of course, adjust the flour and water ratio to get the right consistency).
For those with sodium restrictions, you can reduce the salt by as much as half, but be aware that the use of salt in this recipe is to keep the yeast growth in check and the bread will rise faster and have a slight difference in taste.