Kneads and Cravings: Rising to the occasion with rosemary ciabatta

Friends, every person has a talent. Some people can yodel, others can paint with their feet and my younger sister has this insane ability to bake fresh bread that could make the grumpiest person feel compelled to tap dance.

I am not as gifted as my sister when it comes to the bread arts, but she was happy to share her swoon worthy recipe for rosemary ciabatta bread with you. Many of you have probably tried your hand at making sourdough bread during the pandemic ... for some reason sourdough (I admit it is a very good bread), captured the attention of the oh so fickle internet, but I’m here to offer up my younger sister’s bread wisdom so you can bake fresh rosemary ciabatta from the comfort of your home.

For the record, I love to hound my sister to bake this bread for me because I love using it to make a brie and fig jam grilled cheese. It also tastes absolutely amazing on it’s own. Wow your family or whoever you’re breaking bread with (pun fully intended) with this fun bread recipe that you can work on between Zoom calls as the bread needs to rise a few different times. It takes a while to make it, but I promise it will be worth the wait.

Jess’s Rosemary Ciabatta

Makes three small loaves

2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup water (around 95 degrees Fahrenheit)

1 tsp yeast

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp rosemary seasoning

1 water bottle mister

Pour your water (measured and as close to 95 degrees as you can) into a bowl. Add yeast and salt and gently stir with a spoon until dissolved. Pour rosemary and flour into the yeast mix and gently combine. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, take half of the dough and with wet hands (to prevent the dough from sticking to you) and stretch the dough roughly two feet in length vertically and fold the stretched sheet over itself. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat seven times to create the light airy texture for the ciabatta. Repeat with the other half of the dough. It’s OK if the dough tears when stretched. Cover the bread and let it rise for another 30 minutes and then repeat the stretch and fold pattern again four times with each half of the dough. Cover and let it rise for 30 minutes.

Once risen, tilt dough from the bowl onto a floured surface. Take all the dough and gently pull it out into a single sheet. Roll up the dough into a log and pinch the edges to seal it. Cut the dough log into three even loaves. Sprinkle flour on the top of the three loaves, cover them with plastic and let them rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees when there is only 15 minutes left for the dough to rise. Once risen, stretch each loaf one last time into desired shape.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking stone (or an upside down baking pan or sheet with at least a one-inch depth) and once in the oven, use a squirt bottle to spritz bread with water three times (aim above loaves). And bake for 10 minutes. Then lower oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for an additional 12 to 15 minutes to ensure a nice crispy crust.

Remove from the oven, let it cool and serve.