The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


mdunham21's picture


Hey all!  


This bread is turning out to be my go to bread.  I had a trip to see family on Sunday and decided to bring fresh rustic bread to a classic Italian dinner that evening.  On Thursday I made the biga pre-ferment.


for the Biga.

2.5 cups bread flour

teaspoon yeast

8 ounces water

this was allowed to sit at room temp to rise until doubled in size.  I put it in the refrigerator until sunday morning.


Sunday morning i woke up, turned on the coffee pot, removed the preferment from the refrigerator and cut it into several small pieces to help take off the chill for about an hour.  

meanwhile i started to add ingredients to my cuisanart for the final dough.

main dough

2 cups of bread flour

1 tsp of salt

2 cups of pre-ferment

about 3/4 cup of buttermilk 

no additional yeast

I realized I did not have additional yeast to add to the dough but I ran with it despite.  I mixed the dry ingredients together and then added the warmed buttermilk.  I mixed for a couple minutes and decided to increase the hydration a little bit by adding about a tsp of water at a time.  I oiled a bowl and scraped the dough into the bowl and covered with plastic wrap and allowed it to rest for a half hour.  After the first 30 minutes I uncovered and proceeded to fold the dough, covered, and repeated another 3 times in 30-minute increments.  The dough rose fine, despite no additional yeast.


  I pre-heated the oven to 500 F placed a iron skillet on the low shelf and then started to shape the dough.  I floured the counter and the edge of the bowl so the dough would not stick to the sides as it fell onto the counter.  I divided the dough in two with a sharp knife and liberally dusted the tops with flour.  I wanted a nice airy crumb so I was careful about degassing and working the dough as little as possible.  I shaped each portion of dough into the classic ciabatta shape and let them rest about 10 minutes.  I do not have a bakers stone so I have to make due with baking sheets.  I coated each sheet with corn meal and place one loaf on each pan, covered them with oiled plastic wrap and let them rest another 45 minutes for a final proof. 


The loaves went into the oven and I placed a cup of hot water into the skillet and shut the door.  For the first 1:30 I sprayed the oven walls with water in 30 second intervals and then decreased the temp to 450 F.  I baked for 10 minutes and then rotated the loaves for even baking.  The loaves remained in the oven for another 8 minutes, I turned the oven off and cracked the door while the loaves remained inside for about 5 minutes.  The loaves were allowed to cool for about 45 minutes and we had them with dinner that evening.     

My family loved the bread and it was the perfect addition to the dinner we had that evening.  Please leave any comments or suggestions you may have, cheers!


breadmantalking's picture

Your ciabatta looks wonderful. Do you have pics of the interior? I am curious about the 'bubble' structure, if it developed enough CO2? I find it interesting that they came out so well without adding any yeast. I am definitely going to try this.


David from:

mdunham21's picture

I do have a picture of the crumb which I am having troubles uploading.  I will try again later tonight.  I can say that the dough trapped quite a bit of CO2 for a nice airy crumb.

mdunham21's picture

Here is a picture of the interior.

dzolotas's picture

Looks great, Bravo !!! Personally I don't like very large holes, yours seems to be just fine. My ciabattas are made from sourdough by the way. Can I ask you, what is the weight of each one, and when you shape it, how thick they are? Are you pressing them down before you bake them?

Happy Holidays



mdunham21's picture

I would have to agree with you.  I do like an airy crumb but I want the bread to have some structure.  I will also be moving into sourdough country soon, my starter may have gone by the wayside recently, forcing me to start it again.  I do not have a weight for you at the moment but I will be making these loaves again for christmas eve tomorrow and will post a weight for you shortly after.  If I had to approximate a weight I would say they are about 24 oz.  I worked the dough as little as possible to keep the C02 trapped and only pressed down bubbles on the surface of the dough.  the loaves were about 1.5" before going to the oven.



jowilchek's picture

You said you added water 1 tsp. at a many tsp. total did you add? I think your bread looks beautiful and sounds delicious...thanks for posting since I am about to tackle my first ciabatta and had not decided on which or whose formula to use until just now...yours!! thanks again.

mdunham21's picture

I suppose I should thank you after you've tasted your bread and have determined if this was the right choice.  I would make a couple amendments to the recipe I have written above, for the biga pre-ferment i would only add 1/2 tsp of yeast to the starter instead of 1 tsp, and the main dough would benefit from additional yeast 1.5 tsp.  As far as the additional water goes, for ciabatta you can increase your hydration close to 100% of your flour.  However, this being your first ciabatta, I would stay closer to the recipe with about 8 oz of buttermilk or water.  The dough has to be strong enough to withhold stretching and folding so if you decide to add additional water or buttermilk do so sparingly and use your best judgement. Feel free to ask questions if you have them and best luck! let me know how it turns out.