The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Team USA ciabatta

PeterPiper's picture

Team USA ciabatta

I made the Team USA ciabatta from the BBA and was amazed at the results.  I started with BBA's 178% hydration poolish, which hardly had any activity compared to be usual 100% poolish.  The next day when I made the dough, I folded 3x over 3 hours and the dough seemed barely alive, and hydration levels were like pancake batter.  When I went to place it on my parchment, it poured from my hands like silk--by far the most slack dough/batter I've ever worked with.  I decided to retard the dough in the fridge overnight and bake it this morning before work.  The dough had hardly changed and was about 1" thick and flabby, like a deflated toad.  I had zero faith it would turn out.  However, the ciabatta sprung to life in the oven, more than doubling during the oven spring and turning into something incredible.  The smell was heavenly--creamy, salty, and rich.  I won't be able to cut into it until tonight, but I think my faith has been restored.

Has anyone else made this recipe?  It was a complete morale killer right up to the first 15 minutes of baking when it transformed.  I'm thinking the overnight stay in the fridge may have improved flavor, but I don't have any comparison.  Thoughts?

Team USA ciabatta

bobm1's picture

hi peter, nice ciabatta's. success from the oven is a wonderful feeling. i make these about every other day, though not this version, and they are slack. i use plastic scrapers to handle the dough for the first couple of manipulations. by the third and fourth stretch and fold i can use my hands but i keep they pretty wet so the dough won't stick. it great to feel the gluten strengthen with each s&f. this dough also make a very good focaccia!

i haven't tried to retard this dough because i let the poolish ferment overnight.

let us know how it tasted.

happy bakin'


Cooking202's picture

my last ciabatta was a total failure, still don't know what I did wrong.  I have PR's focaccia rising at the moment but would love to try your recipe if you don't mind sharing.  TIA.



PeterPiper's picture

Hi Carol,

I used the recipe straight from Reinhart's BBA.  I don't want to reproduce the recipe but pick yourself up a copy or get it from the library (like I did).  Be warned that it's incredibly slack.  I've made his other ciabatta recipe (the first one in that book) and it wasn't nearly as hard to work with.

Also, even though I do an overnight ferment for my poolish, I'm thinking the overnight on the dough may have boosted the flavor profile a bit.



TeaIV's picture

I have done a different recipe without cold proof and with. the flavor was similar, but the dough proofed in the fridge had a more open crumb.




P.S. very nice ciabattas!

dmsnyder's picture


Congratulations for resisting the temptation to keep adding flour! The first time you make a super slack dough, you're sure you did something wrong, but your results prove the virtues of persistance in working with this kind of dough.

Beautiful ciabatta!


PeterPiper's picture

These turned out great!  I finally got to taste them last Friday and they were by far the best tasting and structured slack rustic breads I've made.  There were huge holes, translucent webbing, and a great crunch and chewiness to the crumb.  I'll be making these again for sure, and next time will allow some more time and will try for a longer and more narrow shape.  Definitely a success!

avatrx1's picture

Those look wonderful!  I'm not well versed in alot of the books and recipes out there.  I currently make an Italian bread that "rests" for 18 hours.  The bread tastes great, but I haven't figured out how to make it taller.  You Ciabatta looks like what I'm trying to achieve.  Would you mind sharing your recipe?  I have a couple of fresh avocados, some vidalia onion and a little tomato that is just dying to be put on some freshly toasted italian or ciabatta bread!




avatrx1's picture

I looked up the recipe and have a question. item #3 said to line the top of inverted pan with parchment paper and dust liberally.  I'm not sure what this means?  Inverted pan?  that woud indicate the pan was upside down to me, but that doesn't make sense because then you are supposed to transfer the shaped loaves to the pan.

here is the text from the recipe:

3. Line the top of inverted pan (one pan for each loaf) with parchment
paper, and dust liberally with flour.
4. Turn the dough out on a well floured counter and coat dough on all sides.
Form dough into rectangle 1 1/2 inches thick and cut into one pound pieces
with minimal handling. Transfer loaf to pan gently stretching pieces
lengthwise to about 12-14 inches. Let dough rise uncovered for 1-2 hours at
room temperature, until volume doubles.




suave's picture

It doesn't really mean a "loaf pan", but a cookie sheet turned over, so that sides don't get in the way when the bread is put in the oven.

avatrx1's picture

I attempted to make this bread and it was a disaster.  I made the starter and couldn't use it right away so I ended up putting it in the fridge for a couple of days which brings me to my first question:  should the starter separate in the fridge?  I took it out a couple of times and stirred it.

Onto the bread: I mixed it together per the directions and it was soooo soupy!  I've worked with wet dough before but this dough never did come together enough to shape.  It never got past the pancake batter consistency.  I tried putting it in my kitchenaid following another recipe that is posted on this site to try to "firm it up a little" and that didn't work either.  So onto what I did next.

I poured it onto the floured counter and it wanted to run off onto the floor and all over the place so I had no choice but to work flour into it as I was folding it. It never did firm up enough to cut or shape. I wasn't sure how to put it in something to allow it to raise before I baked it, so (DON'T LAUGH) I thoroughly cleaned one of my dogs stainless steel dishes ( a big one) and lined it with parchment paper.  I then scooped the dough into that and let it rise until it was about double. I preheated my oven and a baking stone to around 500+. ; I put the risen dough - in the pan - on the stone - threw some ice cubes in for steam and let it go. It took almost an hour for the bread to come to 200 degrees.It's a very heavy loaf of bread. Very dense. not like any ciabatta I've ever made but I made all the dough into one round loaf since that is the only way to save it. any ideas on where I went wrong? I think the bread is edible, just very dense and kinda chewy.

xaipete's picture

I love the dog bowl--as a two-dog owner I spotted it immediately for what it was!

I've made ciabatta several times. You have to be extremely gentle when handling the dough so as not to deflate it.


avatrx1's picture

I've made ciabatta several times, but this recipe just didn't work.  There was no deflating to it.  Had I not worked flour into it, it would have run off the counter onto the floor.  It was almost liquid.  unlike the other ciabatta recipes I've used before and I weighed everything! 


I just made another loaf since yesterday and that one came out great.  Different recipe though.


My disaster bread may end up back in the dog bowls only this time for them, and not to rise.  :-)