In Italian, ciabatta means “slipper,” the name is a reference to the shape, which does sort of resemble a slipper. Like many artisan breads, ciabatta bread tastes best when it is fresh. To refresh ciabatta bread which is slightly stale or soggy, it can be sprinkled with water and toasted in an oven immediately before serving. Otherwise, stale ciabbata bread can be allowed to go truly stale and turned into croutons.
- In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook blend together the starter, water, milk, oil, flour and instant yeast at low speed until flour is just moistened. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Add in salt and stir slowly to combine and beat dough at medium speed for 5 minutes. The dough shall be very sticky but still hold its shape.
- Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 90 minutes. Have a baking tray ready lined with well-floured baking paper. Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and divide in half. Transfer each half to the prepared baking tray and form into an irregular oval, about 8 inches long. Dust the tops with flour.
- Cover loaves with a dampened kitchen towel. Let loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes. An hour before baking ciabatta, start preheating the oven (and a baking stone if available) to 220C/425F. Bake ciabatta loaves 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Cool the loaves on a rack.