The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mission Ciabatta

alabubba's picture

Mission Ciabatta

I love Ciabatta bread. One of my goals has always been to be able to bake it myself and have it turn out as good or better than the stuff from my local bakery.

I found "Jason's Quick Ciabatta" recipe and decided to give it a go.

Attempt #1 was delicious! It had the right crust and crumb and while I have some experience when it comes to slack dough I was not prepared for just how wet this recipe was. The forming left A LOT of room for improvement.

Attempt#2 I decided that the answer was to knead the crap out of it and add flour to help give it some structure. This helped with the form but took away from the chewiness of the crust.

Attempt#3 I stayed up late last night and watched several videos on youtube of ciabatta makers at work.

Several lights went off in my brain. After my initial mix and knead I portioned the dough out into separate bowls. Covered with plastic wrap and let them to rise. When they were ready I poured them onto a heavily floured table and quickly rough formed them. Not working the flour into the bread but using it to keep everything lubricated. Then let them rest for 20 min. and then transferred them onto plastic wrap that had been floured and dusted with cornmeal. Once on the plastic I could move them around and shape them with ease. I then used the plastic to flip them onto my peel and into my oven.


Thats what I am talking about!!!

This makes me smile...


Salome's picture

Very beautiful! I've made Jason's cocodrillo Ciabatta as well and I didn't manage to get such nice Ciabatte. the dividing into portions before fermentation sounds smart and and I can imagine that your plastic wrap helps a lot, too. Thanks for sharing!

Here's my attempt: Jason's Quick Cocodrillo Ciabatta


swtgran's picture

I have always divided mine into portions because that is the only way could figure out how to get my loaves sized evenly. Terry R

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Some feedback here, please. Is the above video representative of what this Forum is calling "an exceptionally wet and sticky dough"? Because - following Jason's Coccodrillo recipe exactly time after time, mine is nowhere near this firm and well formed. 

Now, yes. If you're following my trials over on a Fresh Loaf Forum posting 

Totally Frustrated Jason's Quick Ciabatta you'll note that I've recently discovered that Reverse Osmosis and 'soft' water can destroy gluten, literally, and my water is that, and more. Hard water, I find out on, is the only way to get good bread development, and right now I'm trying to figure out how to either turn some of my water into hard water, or to find hard water and bring it home. In the meantime; this video -

At no time in the process can I handle Jason's dough. It's so wet, so sticky, such glop that it never changes from what we see in the first minutes of this video where the dough is literally poured out into individual portions. It's never firmed up at all. Never. The way it comes out of the first 20 minutes of KitchenAid dough hook kneading is the same condition it is throughout the whole process .... and it's exactly that shape when it comes out of the oven. Flat as a tortilla. 

What's happening in that video that this incredibly wet dough begins to firm up and can be handled? I laughed out loud when I saw the "heavily floured" work surface! To keep the stuff I make from sticking like glue and coming apart in strands I have to dump it out on a surface at least an inch deep in flour. And handling it? Stretching it? Forming it? It sticks to a wet, plastic dough scraper let alone my oiled or floured, or water-dampened hands. It sticks to everything!

So, if what's happening in this video is indicative of Jason's Coccodrillo ciabatta recipe, I'm well and truly screwed, and it ain't my technique. It isn't "me". It's something else altogether. 

Wow, I'd like some help. 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Another take on the same dilemma -

In this video, the infamous No Knead Ciabatta. The suggestion of plastic wrap on the counter, floured so the dough won't stick? Bwa-hahahaha. It is to laugh. Following the recipe's instructions exactly this dough sticks to the plastic wrap even if I oil it, let alone four it! Rolling the dough off in a flip has not yet happened because the dough is stuck to the wrap. I roll the wrap and the dough stays in place on the wrap. 

I've used KAF unbleached AP and KAF unbleached Bread Flour, Pillsbury AP, Montana Wheat Company bread flour and several others. Kosher salt, Red Star yeasts that are within Use-By dates. I am just completely and utterly at my wits end with this wet-dough routine. 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Oh, and in the Chef John video above? I've never seen a crust caramelize into a golden brown. My crusts remain bland washed out cream colored. Before you ask, I have two different stand alone oven thermometers, plus the oven is only a year and half old. It is in fact generating the required heat. 

Sweet lord, this ain't supposed to be this hard and fight me this much .....

alabubba's picture

Jack, The video above does not show the high hydration of Jason's Quick Cocodrillo Ciabatta but it gave me some ideas about handling wet dough.

And this is a very wet dough, the wetest I have ever worked with. After mixing it is a wet sticky glop. I divide it, then using my bench scraper I do several folds (if you can call pouring the dough onto the counter then scraping it over onto itself a couple of times before scraping it all back into the bowl folding) Usually 3 or 4 folds at 20 minuets apart. This will not turn it into a firm manageable dough but it helps.

As for the plastic wrap, spritz your counter with some water, then lay a piece of plastic wrap down on the wet counter. The water keeps the plastic wrap from moving on you. Then spray the plastic with PAM, then dust with cornmeal. Then pour your dough onto it. Now you can just pull the sides of the plastic up to form your ciabatta loaf.

I turn mine out onto parchment before baking.

Did the water turn out to be your culprit?

I followed you plight on your other thread. Have you been able to turn out any good breads yet. I have a loaf recipe for you to try if you want it. I bake it 3 to 4 times a week and it ALWAYS comes out.

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Of course I want to try it, alabubba. 

But, amigo. It's got to be the water. After I shut down the water-thread, I tried Chef John's no knead ciabatta substituting a dark ale for the water. Wanna guess what happened? 

I made my first ciabatta. Not perfect, but a fairly good first attempt. And the dough handled like I see doughs in various videos, including the one above. It still didn't rise worth a damn in the oven, once introduced to heat. It didn't change shape at all from the proof-size rise. Crumb was more open and airy than I hoped for, but still not the airy bubble ciabatta I'm aiming for. 

I'm making headway. Apparently I've got a unique assembly of peculiar factors no one else has to struggle with, but I'm making progress. 

Send me, or post here your recipe, sir. 

avatrx1's picture

could I get a copy of your recipe.  I have hit a dud period and need to make something that comes out like it's supposed to.



avatrx1's picture

I made this bread a few weeks ago and it turned out fine.  This time I seem to be experiencing a whole new thing.  It collapsed during the rise before it reached the emphasized 'triple".

I put it in the fridge overnight and it rose again, but it still isn't triple.  The dough seemed much wetter than before. I read your suggestion that it might be the water and since we just refilled the softener - I wondered if that had something to do with it.  We have to soften our well water here or everything would be orange from the iron.

I"d thought about adding a cup of starter to it this morning, but I'm hoping for some advice before proceeding.  It's warming up on the counter as I type.



ronhol's picture

I'm glad I stumbled onto this thread.

I've been doing no knead via ABI5 with great success.

Then I tried Jasons Ciabatta, and it's been a horrible flop.

Followed the recipe to the letter! But I kneaded it in the KA for over 30 minutes, no good.

I then realized I had used dried yeast, and it called for instant yeast.

I put the dough in a warm oven for hours, left it on the counter for more hours, just never took off.

Then back in the KA for another 25-30 minutes, just never wanted to climb the hook.

Put in bowl for several hours, never doubled.

Finally put it in the frig, I'll see if it does better tomorrow.

I normally use hot tap water, today I used cold. Well, the hot tap water has more minerals from the hot water tank, and the heat wakes up the yeast.

Double whammy.

My water is softened, but normally does not affect my bread, because I normally use hot tap water, which is not as soft. I can actually smell the difference, just as I can smell the hardness in my water when I run out of salt for the softener.

I'm hoping the yeast will grow enough overnight to bake it in the morning.

ronhol's picture

Turns out, the yeast I used is called Instant, so it must be right stuff.

I made up a fresh batch this AM, and although it did not climb the dough hook and stay up, nor did it  really seem to triple, it turned out nice, all the same.

This time I used hot tap water, which is harder than the soft tap water, and the dough behaved much better!

Love it with a little real butter then some peanut butter, terrific.

My crumb is a little damp, is anyone else's like that?


jowilchek's picture

I followed directions exactly on this one...wettest dough I have ever worked with.

Cooked as directed. internal themometer read between 205 and 210. Still the dough was undercooked and damp. Even had a very bland taste. Tossing in trash!

According to another blog site Jason says the dough will pass the thump the bottom test long before it is done, so what is the internal temp. for throughly cooked ciabatta? I read it was between 210 and 212 any one know?

It's such a shame because they looked beautiful and the crumb was by far the best I have ever made.

bobkay1022's picture

Hi there Joelcheck

Not sure what the problem is but I have never had a bad loaf. I check temp internal and it is about 205.  I wonder if there was a problem with the ingredients. I have quite a few loaves posted on this site for Ciabatta.

This is the last batch. Nice Cruse and a tasty crumb. If we can help let me know not sure I can be of nay but my loaves as I mentioned are delicious every time.

I have added at time 2 heaping table spoons of rye flower or whweat flour to the vatch and it does change the taste a little and folks like it.

MR. Bob

jowilchek's picture

MR Bob,
Your loaves are beautiful. Thanks for the comments but I am sure my ingredients are fine. I used the same bag of flour, the jar of yeast, etc...that I used for my Focaccia Christmas Eve. So ingredients ok, followed formula and directions to a tee! It seems from other posts and other web sites others have had problems with this formula, so I don't feel to deflated. But next week I am going to try Steve's (Bread cetera)
Ciabatta using Double Flour Addition/Double Hydration
Hopefully I will get better results (couldn't get much worse, a little joke)
But thanks so much for your response and will let you know how the doulble flour double hydration formula works. I know I am a newby but since starting this journey into bread making a year and 8 months ago I have learned and improved alot thanks to all the kind folks at The Fresh Loaf and Bread cetera!!!
Happy New Year and Happy baking (and eating)