Last year at this time we were in Italy on vacation, and believe me, I consumed A LOT of bread in those few weeks. Last night's ciabatta rivaled all of the bread I ate while visiting Italy. The real deal has nothing on this bread. I found the recipe here, and just subbed plain soy milk for the milk, otherwise I followed the recipe exactly.
Baking ciabatta takes a little planning, as you have to make the starter, or the sponge, the night before. But as long as you remember to get the sponge started, your fast on your way to delicious home made bread. All in all you'll need about 4 hours of rise time and 20 minutes of bake time. All of the kneading is done in a stand mixer, so there's almost no hands on time.
One caveat.....do not make this bread with All Purpose Flour. For my first attempt I had no bread flour on hand so subbed AP, the result was a deliciously flavored loaf of bread, but as you see below, it did not have that airy or chewy characteristic unique to ciabatta bread. You definitely need the extra gluten and barley flour found in bread flour to create a distinct loaf of ciabatta.
What are you waiting for, go get that sponge started and bake some ciabatta tomorrow!!!