Ciabatta (Italian, literally
"carpet slipper") is an Italian white bread made with wheat flour and yeast. The
loaf is somewhat elongated, broad and flattish and, like a slipper, should be
somewhat collapsed in the middle. Since the late 1990s it has been popular
across Europe and in the United States, and is widely used as a sandwich bread.
Left: A sliced
Ciabatta was first produced in Liguria, although at least one type of ciabatta
can be found in nearly every region of Italy nowadays. The ciabatta from the
area encompassing Lake Como has a crisp crust, a somewhat soft, porous texture,
and is light to the touch. The ciabatta found in Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche
varies from bread that has a firm crust and dense crumb, to bread that has a
crisper crust and more open texture. The more open-crumbed form, which is usual
in the United States, is made from a very wet dough, often requiring
machine-kneading, and a biga or sourdough starter.
There are many variations of ciabatta. When made with whole wheat flour, it is
known as ciabatta integrale. In Rome, it is often seasoned with olive oil, salt,
and marjoram. When milk is added to the dough, it becomes ciabatta al latte.
A toasted sandwich made from small loaves of ciabatta is known as a