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The Bread Baker's Apprentice Ciabatta recipe...

elcouisto's picture

The Bread Baker's Apprentice Ciabatta recipe...

I've tried several times making a Ciabatta using Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice recipe, but always failed in having a crumb with large irregular holes in it. There's a picture of a Ciabatta in the book, but mine is nowhere near as good looking, particularly the crumb.

The thing is I'm not sure what the problem is... My dough looks good, it ferments alright, I try not to degass it too much when handling, I bake it as explained in the book (I tried with and without steam), etc.

Did anyone make a ciabatta using that recipe and succeeded in having a crumb with large irregular holes in it?


csimmo64's picture

I don't know their recipe from that book, but it can't be far off from what I've been practicing with. I do 100% flour, 80% water, 1% fresh yeast [.3% instant] and 2% salt.

By practicing I mean that I've been trying to get a open crumb, and I've gotten it recently, very well too.

First off, I autolyse the flour and water in the recipe. This involves just mixing them to a shaggy mass and letting it sit and absorb the water for around 45 minutes.

I then Set my kitchenaid to 2nd speed and let it mix and develop for around 3 minutes. Moderate development. Then, over the next three hours I do a series of folds to the dough to develop the rest of the gluten every half hour.

When I was getting improper open crumb structure [what I was trying to acheieve] I found that I was mixing improperly. Too much time in the mixer, no autolyse period, and also I didn't do enough of the stretch and folds or didn't do them right. Gluten development that I look for in ciabatta is that the dough pulls itself clean from the bowl that you fold it in. Don't be so crazy about not degassing it, it's all about developing the gluten in as little movements as possible, but also getting it properly developed. Also, using more water in the recipe really promotes open crumb. Hope this helps

Montanabread's picture

there is a recipe here on TFL that is I think Peters quick ciabatta. I have tried many recipes and this one is so simple but works perfectly. just take care when flipping it.

brakeforbread's picture

I've had the same results with BBA. And I second Jason's Quick Ciabatta. I've done a side by side comparison posted here on TFL and a blog post as well.

elcouisto's picture

I've taken a look at your blog post and your Ciabatta from the BBA looks roughly the same than mine.

At first I was wondering if my crumb problem was because I'm doing everything by hand, but since you're using a kitchen aid or similar (I'm guessing here), I know the problem's elsewhere...

I'd love to try Jason's quick, but I don't have a kitchen aid mixer... And a 95% hydration dough is practically impossible to work out by hand.

I'm convinced it is possible to get large irregular holes with BBA's recipe... I just don't klnow how.

SallyBR's picture

BBA Ciabatta is not the best recipe around - I did not have large holes either, whereas other recipes worked much better


I don't think it's your faut, try Jason's Quick

jackew's picture

The Reinhardt ciabatta recipe I have shows 70% hydration. Jason's has 95%. I may be over simplifying it but it appears that is where the difference would be. Working with 95% hydration takes real patience and experience.

gingk's picture

I bake this bread about 2 or 3 times a week.    Yes, it has irregular holes and is light as a feather.    All I can say is follow his recipe diversions, ..except possibly adding more water.   The dough has to be SLACK--very slack--work with it and bake it HOT.  Keep working with this recipe, as it's a beautiful thing!

elcouisto's picture

Thanks for your feedback, gingk. But I have a question.. by "slack", do you mean slack as in "the gluten's not quite developped so the dough's rather slack", or do you mean slack as in "this dough has so much water, it's very slack". Because you mention following the recipe exactly, except maybe adding water. With a recipe with such small amounts of ingredients, it's rather easy to go from 70% hydration to 85% hydration...

I'm also asking this question because I find it odd that Peter, is his recipe, is saying that whether you mix by hand or with a machine, you mix for the same period of time (5-7 minutes). Now, 7 minutes by hand and 7 minutes with a mixer develops a very different gluten strength...



mrfrost's picture

Ciabatta dough that is full of large holes is slack because of high percentage of water, but yet the gluten must be very well developed. Some ciabattas have hydrations of 95 % or more(see Jason's thread, with video links).

That is the challenge: high hydration, max gluten develoment. Difficult(but maybe not impossible) for many to achieve without a stand mixer.

gingk's picture


I took a workshop from Peter Reihhart last Fall and I think he had a really intuitive approach....especially when it came to the amount of water...keep adding till it feels right.   

I mix this bread in an ancient Kitchen Aid on the lowest speed.    By slack I meant really easy to stretch and loose.   The dough gets strong as you go through the stretches.  I use his Pain a l'Ancienne Rustic Bread -- the ciabatta version on page 52 of Artisan Breads Every Day.   The total mixing time in the Kitchen Aid is two minutes.