I believe everyone should have one bread recipe in their back pocket that is fool-proof. And by fool-proof, I mean it would require deliberate sabotage to go wrong! Some types of bread rely on practice and experience, so you know what the dough should feel like, and how to make it work in your climate (I still have my share of misfit loaves). This Ciabatta recipe is not that type of bread and I’m quite confident that anyone can make this bread. You need a bowl and a spoon and you’re good to go. Seriously.
I’ve made Ciabatta buns the fancy-pants way. As in, there’s some folding and resting and shaping and creating a steam-oven and, in general, a bit of time and effort.
And then I’ve made these Ciabatta buns the easy way i.e. with a bowl and a spoon and that’s about it.
And you know what? Neither Jonty nor I can tell the difference! The fancy-pants buns taste the same as the unbelievably-low-maintenance buns!
Back in June, we stopped at Belgarde Kitchen after a day of climbing, to celebrate Jonty’s birthday. We went in for a late lunch, and I had the most fantastic breakfast sandwich, with this portobello patty on a soft ciabatta bun. That day, I vowed to recreate that burger. Actually, it’s not the first time I’ve tried to recreate one of the Belgarde items! (And it’s one recipe we keep in constant rotation!)
It was around two months after that birthday visit, before I even thought about giving this recipe a whirl. Since then, I’ve made the buns 3 or 4 times. It’s a smaller-batch recipe, which is always nice for a household of two, but even better is that these buns freeze really well.
Have you ever heard of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread? You basically stir together some water, flour, yeast and salt and leave it sit on the counter overnight. The original concept recipe forms a really wet dough, which is why you can just stir it together. In this recipe, I’ve sort of combined a few different recipes and ideas (from Lahey’s and my Peter Reinhart cookbook and this Alexandra Cooks post) and come up with a Ciabatta bun recipe that really seems to work and taste good, with very little effort!
A few things to keep in mind:
- This dough needs to sit on the counter overnight, for 12 to 18 hours, so give it a good stir before you go to bed.
- The dough will still be quite sticky the next morning. Do not fear, just make sure you use extra flour judiciously. Aim for at least 1/4 cup sprinkled on the counter and on the dough, while you’re cutting and shaping the buns.
- To shape the dough, I find it easiest to cut it into 8 or 10 equal pieces and gently roll each piece completely in flour. Pat the dough into a rectangular shape, then fold the dough over on itself and place it, seam-side down, on a baking sheet. Because the dough is still quite soft and wobbly, you can’t shape it like my slider buns. Just fold and nudge, and they will be fine.
- Use a parchment-lined baking tray, and don’t worry about creating a steam-bath in the oven. Maybe because of the extra liquid in the dough, the outsides will crisp up nicely, while still keeping a soft, chewy centre.
That’s it! These buns bake at 425 F oven for about 20 minutes, and then you have wonderfully soft, yet chewy, Ciabatta buns to eat on their own, or made into your favourite sandwich.
Give them a try! Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as we do 🙂
- 515 g (4 cups) bread flour (all-purpose flour will work, too)
- 10 g (1¼ tsp) sea salt
- ¼ tsp instant yeast
- 2 cups cold tap-water
- ¼ cup flour (for shaping the dough into buns)
- In a large bowl, stir everything together until you have a shaggy dough, about 2 minutes.
- Cover with a cotton kitchen towel and leave on the counter top, at room temperature, for 12 to 18 hours.
- When ready to bake the next day, pre-heat the oven to 425 F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Spread ¼ cup of flour on the counter top and tip out the dough onto the flour. Coat the dough thoroughly with the flour. The dough will still be quite wet, so use as much flour as necessary to avoid any sticking.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 to 10 pieces and roll each piece in flour.
- Gently shape each piece into a square or rectangular shape by folding the dough over onto itself. Place each piece on the parchment-lined tray. Leave a bit of space around each bun.
- Let the dough rise for about 20 minutes.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown.
- Allow to cool completely before slicing.