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Ciabatta (Italian pronunciation: [tʃaˈbatta], literally slipper bread) is an Italian white bread made from wheat flour and yeast, created in 1982 by a baker in Adria, Veneto, Italy in response to popularity of French baguettes. Ciabatta is somewhat elongated, broad and flat and is baked in many variations.
A toasted sandwich made from small loaves of Ciabatta is known as a panino (plural panini).
Ciabatta was first produced in 1982 by Arnaldo Cavallari, a baker and miller from Adria, a small town close to Venice in Veneto. Cavallari and other bakers in Italy were concerned by the popularity of sandwiches made from baguettes imported from France, which were endangering their businesses, so set about trying to create an Italian alternative to make sandwiches with. The recipe for ciabatta came about after several weeks trying variations of traditional bread recipes, and consists of a soft, wet dough made with high gluten flour.
Cavallari called the bread ciabatta Polesano after the name of the area he lives in and registered it as a trademark. The recipe was subsequently licenced by Cavallari's company, Molini Adriesi, to bakers in 11 countries by 1999.
Ciabatta bread has become popular throughout Italy, many regions have their own variations on the original recipe or a bread which closely resembles ciabatta, and which has become accepted as a variety of ciabatta; 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, and in Rome, it is often seasoned with olive oil, salt, and marjoram.
Ciabatta bread was introduced to the United Kingdom in 1985 by Marks & Spencer, then brought to America in 1987 by Orlando Bakery, a Cleveland firm. They brought over 3 bakers from Italy to develop the product and the mass production process. They successfully introduced a fresh bread, then later, a frozen version. It was quickly copied throughout the United States.
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- Stummer, Robin (30 April 1999). "The secret life of ciabatta". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2013.