Chewy fluffy Ciabatta Buns fresh from the oven are just a few hours away with this simple recipe. They're the perfect vehicle for your favourite sandwich or enjoyed solo in all their glory. You will need a clean (previously unused) spray bottle for this recipe.
In a large bowl, add the warm water (should be just lukewarm, around 105°F/41°C). Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit until it is foamy, about 10 minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in 2 cups of flour until combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or beeswax wrap, place in a warm draft-free area, and let it sit until bubbles form on top, about 1 hour.
Stir in the salt along with 2 cups of flour and mix to combine. Turn the dough over onto a clean, well-floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, adding a bit more flour when the dough gets too sticky. The dough should be very soft and stretchy (don't add too much flour, you may not need it all).
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a clean dish towel and set aside to rise until doubled in a warm draft-free area, about 2 hours.
Gently deflate the dough using your hands, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Using lightly floured hands and a bench scraper, form the dough into square-shaped buns (doesn't have to be perfect). Place the buns (with space between each) on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a clean dish towel and set the buns aside to rise in a warm draft-free area until doubled, around 45 minutes. Start the next step while the buns rise.
Arrange one oven rack in the middle of the oven and another in the bottom. Preheat the oven to 425°F and place a 9x9" pan (or pan of similar size, it isn't important) filled with boiling water on the lowest rack.
When the buns have risen, Spray the buns all over and generously with water and bake for 5 minutes. Spray the buns again with water, and bake another 5 minutes, and repeat this 2 more times (you will be spraying the buns a total of 4 times). This step is what creates the chewy outside texture.
Bake until the buns are golden brown on the bottom, around 20 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack to cool before enjoying. Store leftover buns at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.