Photography: Randy Mayor; Styling: Jan Gautro
2 loaves, 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

This bread gets its name from its shape; ciabatta is Italian for "slipper." Letting the sponge rest for 12 hours develops complex flavor.

How to Make It

Step 1

To prepare sponge, lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1 cup flour and next 4 ingredients (1 cup flour through 1 package of yeast) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Cover; chill 12 hours.

Step 2

To prepare dough, let sponge stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Lightly spoon 3 1/2 cups bread flour and 1/2 cup semolina flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Add 3 cups bread flour, 1/2 cup semolina flour, 3/4 cup warm water, 1/2 cup warm milk, salt, and 1 package yeast to sponge, and stir well to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes), and add enough of remaining bread flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Divide dough in half.

Step 3

Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each into a 13 x 5-inch oval. Place, 3 inches apart, on a large baking sheet sprinkled with 2 tablespoons semolina flour. Taper ends of dough to form a "slipper." Sprinkle 1 tablespoon semolina flour over dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Step 4

Preheat oven to 425º.

Step 5

Uncover dough. Bake at 425º for 18 minutes or until the loaves are lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack.

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