Somebody Fetch My Slippers...
Sourdough Ciabatta Rolls
Despite their popularity and having earned a reputation as a 'traditional' Italian bread, the ciabatta (which translates literally as 'slipper') was invented by a baker in Verona, Italy in 1976, in response to the rise in popularity of the French baguette.
Although there are regional variations within Italy, the ciabatta that most of us know and love has a soft open textured crumb under a crisp shell of an exterior. The characteristic 'bubbles' are formed by the yeasts feeding on the sugars in the flour and are trapped in the highly elastic white dough.
This dough is so sticky to work with that you need to use generous amounts of olive oil when stretching it to develop the gluten. Once stretchy and elastic the dough is rested in a well oiled tub or bowl whilst it continues to bubble up.
When ready to shape the dough needs to be turned out onto a very generously floured surface. Don't expect to shape this like any other dough, it's simply too delicate and stretchy. Divide into loaves or rolls, lift carefully onto well dredged baking sheets (a little polenta can help) and leave to prove.
Bake until lightly golden and crisp.