This ciabatta recipe should be made in a stand mixer, although it can also be made in a food processor. I have made it by hand, but I wouldn’t recommend it. (You can’t put the dough on the table because the natural inclination is to add lots of flour to this very sticky dough, and pretty soon you wouldn’t have a ciabatta…unless you are willing to knead the wet, sticky mass between your hands–in midair–turning, folding, and twisting it rather like taffy, your hands covered with dough.) Resist the temptation to add flour, and follow the instructions. The dough will feel utterly unfamiliar and probably a bit scary. And that’s not the only unusual feature: the shaped loaves are flat and look definitely unpromising. Even when they are puffed after the second rise, you may feel certain you’ve done it all wrong. Don’t give up. The ciabatta bread rises nicely in the oven.–Carol Field
LC Bereft of a Baking Stone? Note: If, like many of us, you haven’t yet brought yourself to ante up for a dearly priced baking stone, try flipping a large cast-iron skillet upside down and baking on its bottom. It ought to do the trick. It has for us.
Special Equipment: Two baking stones