Starter: In a medium bowl, stir together the yeast and 2 tablespoons warm water then let stand 5 minutes or until creamy. Add the remaining water and bread flour. Stir 4 minutes, then cover bowl with cling wrap. Let starter stand at cool room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
Bread: In a small bowl, stir together yeast and warm milk then let stand 5 minutes or until creamy. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, blend together milk mixture, starter, warm water, olive oil and flour at low speed until flour is just moistened; add salt and mix until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap.
Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Dough will be sticky and full of air bubbles. Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to a sheet of baking paper and form into an irregular oval about 25cm long. Dimple loaves with floured fingers and dust tops with flour. Cover loaves with a clean, damp tea towel. Let loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
At least 45 minutes before baking ciabatta, put a baking stone on the lowest oven shelf and preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
Transfer 1 loaf on its parchment onto a baking tray and tilt baking tray to slide loaf with parchment onto back half of stone. Transfer remaining loaf to front half of stone in a similar manner. Bake ciabatta loaves 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a wire rack.
I am at the starter part of the recipe. The only thing I would ask is that the ingredients list is separated into starter and then bread. Just to stop any confusion. I just used the first 4 ingredients for the starter. I hope this is correct. - 16 Jul 2015
This was the best bread I've ever made! I prepared the sponge two days in advance and kept it in the fridge. I cooked it on a pizza stone and basted with water every 5 minutes for a brown, crunchy crust. The parchment did burn a little around the edges while baking, but it was reminiscent of an old Italian bakery. - 14 Jul 2008