The seventh Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge (from the book by the same name authored by Peter Reinhart) was Ciabatta, and is found on pages 135-142.
The word ciabatta in Italian means "slipper" or "shoe." The author relates how this style of bread appeared mid-20th Century in the Lake Como area in northern Italy, and how the originator of the bread described his bread as resembling the ballet slippers worn by the dancers in that area, naming it Ciabatta di Como (slipper bread of Como).
I have seen those ballet slippers and when they are just lying about, they resemble this bread, sort of deflated and flat and misshapen. I was so excited when my bread came out looking like the neglected slippers!
The look of the outside of my bread was very pleasing to me. The inside, not so much...ciabatta has large holes in it inside. As you can see, mine has small holes in it, so the next time I try this recipe, I am going to add more water and work the dough less in the kneading stage.
The flavor, was wonderful...the first loaf was completely consumed in one sitting by the guys with little dipping bowls of extra virgin olive oil mixed with seasonings and herbs. They loved it. I thought it was very good and hope that next time I can achieve the larger holes.
Our next challenge: Cinnamon Buns and Sticky Buns, found on pages 143-146. Cinnamon Buns and Sticky Buns will be posted here in two weeks.