Ciabatta literally "carpet slipper") is an Italian
white bread made with wheat flour and yeast. The loaf is somewhat
elongated, broad and flattish. Its name is the Italian for slipper.
There are many variations of ciabatta.
Ciabatta was invented in 1982. Since the late 1990s it has
been popular across Europe and in the United States, and is widely
used as a sandwich bread.
A toasted sandwich made from small loaves of ciabatta is known as a
panino (plural panini).
Ciabatta was first produced in Liguria,
although at least one type of ciabatta can be found in nearly every
region of Italy nowadays.
The ciabatta from the area encompassing Lake Como has a crisp crust,
a somewhat soft, porous texture, and is light to the touch. The
ciabatta found in Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche varies from bread that
has a firm crust and dense crumb, to bread that has a crisper crust
and more open texture.
When made with whole wheat flour, it is known as ciabatta integrale.
In Rome, it is often seasoned with olive oil, salt, and marjoram.
When milk is added to the dough, it becomes ciabatta al latte
Ciabatta bread was brought to
America in the early 1990s by Orlando Bakery, a cleveland firm. They
brought over 3 bakers from Italy to develop the product and mass
production process. They successfully introduced a fresh bread, then
later, a frozen version. It was quickly copied throughout the United
The more open-crumbed form, which is usual in the United States, is
made from a very wet dough, often requiring machine-kneading, and a
biga or sourdough starter.