What is Ciabatta?
Ciabatta bread is a type of Italian bread that literally means little slipper, due to its unique shape. The slightly elongated, and relatively flat shape is indicative of Ciabatta. Due to its high water hydration (most often more than 90% flour weight) and long fermentation times, the crumb of the Ciabatta consists of irregular and large holes.
It is traditionally made with only white flour, salt, yeast, and water, but many variations exist of this classic bread. Some variations include additions of milk, olive oil, seasoning, and even other types of flour and grains. It is possible to make whole grain ciabatta, but this is uncommon (due to the bran’s detrimental effect on the large hole effect) and given that most of the allure to ciabatta is the unique texture provided by traditional white flour.
Ciabatta bread is popular in the United States for a variety of applications, but primarily as sandwiches in several major restaurant chains. The nutritional value of ciabatta bread is not substantially different than other white breads. It stands out as an artisan bread with a crispy crust and an interior filled with large holes.