The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Ciabatta

davidg618's picture

Sourdough Ciabatta

My wife and I love ciabatta, especially for soaking up soup, a handle for bruschettas, or a base for cheese. It was only natural I, obsessed with improving my bread baking skills (especially sourdoughs), would try a ciabatta.

I've been running a set of experiments trying to decide two things: 1) what hydration I should keep my SD seed starter at, and 2) is it worth the effort to do multiple builds to arrive at the formula starter I choose to use? This ciabatta was constructed with 250 gm. of 73% hydrated starter built with three intermediate stages. The initial seed starter was 10 gm. at 200% hydration. The target dough weight was 1050 gm. (three 350 gm. loaves) at 73% hydration.

My tentative conclusions are: 1) the 200% Hydration favors yeast, not bacteria, development. This results in short bulk, and final proof times, and good oven spring, but nearly indiscernable sourness. (This conclusion includes the results of two previous baguette bakes.), and 2) the three build starter time is worth it. This ciabatta has a distinctive, yet still mild, sour flavor: a nice compliment to bleu cheese, or French onion soup.

The crumb, is, to our needs, also near perfect. I expected an even more (undesired) dense crumb. I folded the dough more than its feel deemed necessary. However, neither I nor my wife are fans of the "more-holes-than-bread" crumb other bakers seem to strive for in ciabatta.

I've developed two spreadsheets:  The first helps us baker's calculate the flour and liquid for a target dough weight and target hydration, using (or not using) a SD starter, poolish, or sponge while also allowing choices re which flours ahd how much of each, as well as fluids--water isn't the only choice (i sometimes use beer). The second spread sheet calculates the required seed starter needed to create a desired starter weight and hydration, achieved with three builds--the necessary flour and water for each build is calculated also.. Each build triples the starter's beginning weight, and increases (or decreases) by one-third its hydration %. If anyone is interested, send me a message with your email address and I'll send you the spread sheets. They were built with Microsoft Excel (.xls extension.)

David G.


xaipete's picture

David, I think you are right about the hydration level favoring yeast growth. Your crumb is really spectacular and your bread delicious.


cake diva's picture
cake diva


Kindly share your speadsheet with me.  My address is

Thanks in advance.  - cakediva

Chrome's picture

Could I please have the spreadsheets also?

tonyraye at comcast dot net (sorry for the format, don't want spam)

Thank you


bakerjane's picture


Your spreadsheets would be so helpful...are they still available? If so, I would be appreciative of receiving them. Thank you.   bakerjane

nadoj's picture

Hi David G,

That link is dead. I know I am slow in checking it out. I am very interested in your data, your bread looks great.


minisquid's picture

Hi David,

Your breads look awesome!  And, your blog posts are very informative!  I was wondering if you could repost your spreadsheets?  The link you provided is dead :(



cableadill's picture


Is there any chance you still have the spreadsheets from your sourdough ciabatta experience? I would really love to experiment as I just finished making a loaf tonight and wanted to try out your recipe. Thanks for your help.