Flavorful Herb Sourdough Ciabatta Rolls are perfect for sandwiches or just dipped in olive oil. Another great way to use your sourdough starter discard!
Home Baked Ciabatta Rolls
There’s nothing quite like baking bread at home, especially when you're making homemade ciabatta bread. Combining simple ingredients for dough and watching it puff up, almost by magic. There’s that yeasty smell wafting through the house.
In today’s modern world of supermarkets and processed foods, baking bread almost is a way of staying grounded, returning us to what baking is about. Luckily, home baked bread is relatively easy to do and generally doesn’t require a lot of complex ingredients. Flour, water, yeast, salt…that’s all you need for a basic loaf.
Herb Ciabatta Rolls take that simple formula and add a couple of ingredients to the mix. Olive oil, milk, and herbs lend flavor and soften the dough a bit. So far, so good. How about adding some sourdough starter discard?
[Side Note: a version of this post first appeared on RecipesWorthRepeating.com, 3/6/2020]
Baking with Sourdough Starter Discard
Longtime readers know that I refuse to throw away unfed sourdough starter, so I’ve adapted recipes to include it. Bagels, pretzels, English Muffins, focaccia, even pumpkin cake and gingerbread are just some of the ways I use my sourdough starter discard.
Even if you don’t gain active yeast from the discard, you do gain some of that lovely sourdough tang. That’s a win in my book!
Ingredients for ciabatta rolls
Let's talk about the ingredients you'll need.
- Flour: Using a high gluten all-purpose flour (like from King Arthur Flour) is fine. If you want a chewier interior, use bread flour.
- Sourdough Starter: Fed or unfed, it’s up to you. Using fed sourdough starter might give you a better rise (depending on how vigorous your starter is), but using unfed sourdough starter discard works just fine.
- Water: You need to hydrate your dough somehow, right?
- Milk: Also used to hydrate the dough, and acts to soften the texture a bit. For a chewier loaf, replace the milk with more water.
- Olive Oil: Adds flavor. Extra virgin olive oil is best, but not necessary.
- Salt: Even with the tang from the sourdough starter discard, you’ll need salt to keep the bread from tasting flat.
- Mixed Herbs: Here’s where you really get to be creative. Use any combination of herbs you prefer. Italian herbs could include rosemary, oregano, basil, but you can use other combinations like sage and thyme or herbs de Provence. You can use either fresh, dried, or a mixture of the two.
- Yeast: Provides the rise, especially if you’re using unfed sourdough starter.
This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour's Sourdough Ciabatta Sandwich Rolls.
Some helpful tips
- In order to get that nicely browned exterior, add a large skillet filled with about two cups of water to the oven before you start to preheat it. The warming oven will heat the water. Just be careful when you open the oven to put in the dough or you’ll get a faceful of steam (and this isn’t spa day).
- Speaking of preheating the oven, let it heat for and additional 30 minutes or more after it tells you it’s ready to make sure the entire oven is uniformly hot. This will help the loaves spring up no matter which rack the baking pans are on.
- A word about flour amounts...to achieve a ciabatta’s open, airy crumb, the dough needs to be slacker than a normal white bread, but the rolls also need to be able to hold their shape in the oven. Too much flour will yield rolls with a texture that doesn’t have those holes. Not enough flour and the rolls just flatten out. Start with the lesser amount of flour and add more in two tablespoon increments.
- Using fed sourdough starter might give you a better rise (depending on how vigorous your starter is), but using unfed sourdough starter discard works just fine.
- Use any combination of herbs you prefer. Italian herbs could include rosemary, oregano, basil, but you can use other combinations like sage and thyme or herbs de Provence. You can use either fresh, dried, or a mixture of the two.
- I always rotate my baking sheets (front to back and switching racks) halfway through the cooking time. If you decide to do that, work quickly so you don’t lose too much steam in the process.
This is a trial-and-error process, people, so just…uhm…roll with it.
This is what the dough will look like before and after proofing the dough (the first rise).
After the first rise, portion out the dough.
Make sure you have enough space for the rolls to rise.
Using Sourdough Ciabatta Rolls
These ciabatta rolls are better than the supermarket's offerings, with assertive herb flavor coupled with that wonderful sourdough tanginess. So what can sourdough ciabatta rolls be used for?
I used rosemary, oregano, and basil for a wonderful base to my salami and provolone sandwich. Use whatever herbs you’d like to compliment the cuisine you’ll be serving.
Get back to basics with baking bread at home, then take your bread baking up a notch with ciabatta bread made with sourdough starter discard.
No waste, just mouth-watering ciabatta bread goodness. Yummm…
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Recipes using sourdough starter discard
When you maintain a sourdough starter, you have a dilemma. What do you do with your unfed sourdough starter discard? I've got lots of suggestions for sweet and savory ways to use your fed sourdough starter and the sourdough starter discard. Here are a few samples...
Sourdough Starter Maintenance
Here's all you need to know about feeding your sourdough starter. Whether you're new to sourdough or just need a refresher, this is the place to start!
Herb Sourdough Ciabatta Rolls
- large frying pan
- spray bottle
- 6 to 7 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup sourdough starter, fed or unfed, room temperature, see Recipe Notes
- 1¼ cups water, warmed between 100°F to 110°F
- ¾ cup milk, warmed between 100°F to 110°F
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp mixed herbs chopped, see Recipe Notes
- 2 tsp yeast, instant or rapid rise, see Recipe Notes
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix all the dough ingredients together, using 6 cups (720g) of the flour. Knead the dough (or turn onto a lightly floured work surface to knead by hand) until you have a smooth, yet slack dough. Add more flour only as necessary in two tablespoon increments to make a smooth, satiny, elastic dough. The dough should definitely be on the slack side, but not oozy (see Recipe Notes).
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Let it rise in a warm spot for about 1 to 2 hours, or until it doubles in size. You can use a controlled-temperature bread proofer or just the oven with the light turned on.
- Gently deflate the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface.
- Pat the dough into a rectangle about 9- x 16-inches. Cut into twelve 3- x 4-inch rolls using a bench scraper or chef’s knife. Try to make the rolls approximately the same size, but don’t stress about exact measurements.
- While the rolls rise, preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a large frying pan filled with water in the bottom of the oven (off to one side). The water will warm while the oven is heating, creating a steamy environment so the crusts gets nice and brown.
- Spray the loaves with water and sift a thin layer of flour on top. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets, working quickly (see Recipe Notes). Lower the oven temperature to 375°F, and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the rolls are a deep golden brown.
- Remove the rolls from the oven, turn off the oven, and return the rolls to the oven with its door cracked open a couple of inches. Let rolls cool completely in the cooling oven.