The Fresh Loaf

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Hamelman's ciabatta recipe

pigreyhound's picture

Hamelman's ciabatta recipe


   Is there an error in the Hamelman recipe on page 105 of BREAD: A BAKERS BOOK OF TECHNIQUES AND RECIPES?  I am just making sure I did the right thing as I am still a novice to using the recipes in these advanced bread books.

   I was making the focaccia recipe on page 280, which uses the ciabatta dough from page 105. 

    The Biga called for 3.8 oz of water for 6.4 oz of flour.  It seemed to come out correctly as a stiff biga.  When I moved into the final dough, the recipe calls for 3.5 oz of water to over 25 oz of flour.  It looked incredibly odd but I followed the instructions since this is the first time I made this recipe.  But I know ciabatta is supposed to be a relatively high hydration dough, so looking at the recipe's Overall formula, I noticed I should have a total of 23ish oz of water in the entire recipe.  So I added water to make up for the water that appears to be missing from the section on Final dough.

Is that correct? I haven't made the focaccia yet so I am not sure how it is going to turn out. I was just wondering if I am missing something that is right in front of me. I didn't find a lot about an error in the book when I searched for information, and some bakers on the book review for amazon said there was absolutely no error and that the reviewer who claimed there was an error was inexperienced with reading the recipes.

   I am just checking my understanding of the recipe.

I have had great success with Hamelman's sourdough breads so I think I have used the recipes correctly, but I am double checking to hear from experienced bakers. 


Thank you for your help!


Marty's picture

Here's an interesting thread related to your questions. If it fails, try a search in the forums.


pigreyhound's picture

Thank you!  I read through them all and did try to search the forums but didn't come up with much yet. But I will try a different search phrase.  Many of the threads talk about the poolish ciabatta rather than the stiff biga ciabatta.

I know I am new to this level of baking but I have used many other Hamelman recipes with success so I am just confused about why this one seemed so odd when I put together the Final dough.  It was crumbly.

I am in the final rise for the focaccia now and it looks good and is very stretchy and hard to handle (which is what I expect of ciabatta) so I am hoping I did the right thing by adding the amount of water needed to make up the water listed in the Overall dough formula.


wally's picture

Hi pigreyhound,

Not sure which printing of Hamelman's book you're using.  However, in mine, the recipe on p. 105 calls for 1lb., 3.6 oz (2 1/2 cups) water in the final dough (this is the recipe for Home baking).  That is closer to the amount you eyeballed, though if you added 23 oz water you've hydrated it slightly more than he calls for.

In any event, sounds like a typo in your recipe.

Hope that helps!


deblacksmith's picture

Some printings of this wounderful book seem to have some printing errors that have been fixed in later printings.  In my copy of Hamelaman on page 105 it calls for 1 pound plus 3.6 oz of water in the final dough or 19.6 ozs of water.  For flour it calls for 1 pound plus 9.6 oz or 25.6 oz.  For the Biga it is 3.8 oz water and 6.4 oz flour as you also had.  Adding the two parts together (Biga and Main) you have 23.4 oz of water and 32 oz. of flour for a hydration in the final dough of 73 percent.

Hope this helps you.  

For the record I have found it much easier to just work in metric -- and use grams for all of my measurements.  In Hamelaman I don't work with the home column but instead use the metric column.  Now I don't make batch that big, but I just deside on the size of total batch I want (often around 2400 grams) and divide the total weight from the metric column by that number and get a factor I use to rescale his weights.  Works well for me with one more note -- Hamelaman always list the yeast in his large batch columns as fresh yeast -- I always use instant dry -- so I have to multiply the weight of fresh yeast by 0.33 to get the weight of instant dry.  See page 57 for this information.


pigreyhound's picture

Ok, thank you for the suggestion!  I think I must have a copy with an error.  I went through many of the other recipes and the preferment + the final dough = the overall dough numbers.  I was confused because several bakers were saying that there was no error on page 105. So I just feel better knowing that I am not crazed or stupid.

The focaccia came out fine with the extra water I added to make up the percentage in the overall dough numbers.

I will review page 57 and try using grams for my measurements!

Thank you so much.


tananaBrian's picture

You should be proud ...Hamelman would be proud of you.  Someone else posted a thread hear that after baking with him in the King Arthur class, one of the biggest lessons was "test and see" any time someone asked a question ...feel it, taste it, look at it.  But for the record, ciabatta's are generally always very near 75% hydration (by weight using Baker's Percentage).  If you find a formula that is much different than that, then you might want to say 'hmmmmm....' like you did, then tune it in you did.  You'll make a great baker out of yourself if you keep that up...