The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bigfoot's Ciabatta

mwilson's picture

Bigfoot's Ciabatta

I made an enormous ciabatta weighing nearly 1 kilo. I used an 18hr-fermented biga starter and a combination of medium and weak flours. This thing was massive!

400g '00' flour from Shipton Mill
160g cold water
1.3g Instant yeast

Final dough:
Fermented biga
320g cold water
200g plain flour (9.4% protein)
24g Extra virgin olive oil
12g Non-diastatic malt powder
12g Salt
2g diastatic malt powder 

olive oil for S&f.

To make the biga, first weigh all the ingredients. Put flour and yeast in the mixing bowl and turn on the mixer adding water gradually to form breadcrumbs and let run until you get a dry dough. Roll out the dough and fold up. Cover and leave overnight at cool room temperature for 18hrs.

Next day weigh all ingredients and cut the biga into pieces. Mix biga and 150g of water until combined. Then add flour, malts, salt and mix adding the rest of the water in stages. Once the dough begins to clean the mixing bowl add the olive oil and finish the mix to achieve a satin-smooth, slightly sticky dough.

Place dough in a well oiled flat and wide container. Cover and rest. Stretch and fold the dough at 20 minute intervals until the dough almost doubles in size. Rest for 20 minutes before shaping business letter style. Roll shaped dough in flour, give it a final dust of flour and leave to proof until doubled in size. Stone-bake with steam.

I had to shape and proof the dough very carefully being so huge already and not having a very big oven, stone or proofing tray/peel.

Baked ciabatta dimensions: 15"x9"x4.5".

Crumb - open and very, very light.


Probably one of the best ciabatta's I ever made. Subtle and moreish in flavour. Perfectly chewy and shreadable in texture.


isand66's picture

Awesome looking Ciabatta.  Great open crumb and your crust looks perfect.

If this thing were any bigger you would have to put a leash on it so it wouldn't attack an unsuspecting bread aficionado!




mwilson's picture


Thanks. Although despite my efforts to dry it out, the top crust softened very quickly.

Kind regards,


dabrownman's picture

would be no problem but who knew you would give birth to such a massive ciabatta?   The whole mut be the size of donut holes.   Nice glossy crumb too.  Very nice bread indeed.   I don't know how you can keep the crust crusty in the summer.  The humidity seems to attack it straight away - even in AZ where the humidity doesn't exist - until monsoon.

I'm surprised you didn't go for at least 90% hydration after your unbelievably wet 100% spelt bread though :-) -  Not enough whole grains to sop it all up?

Nice baking Michael 

mwilson's picture

Hi Dabrownman. Thanks but I'm after an even more open crumb than this... I need to reduce mixing time. I still mixed slow for nearly an hour including one rest of 20mins. I always want to get a satin dough at the end of mixing. Using an autolyse will help but I'm impatient and the final dough rises very quickly.

The hydration is what I like for ciabatta but then I'm using weaker flours which take up less water and already contribute much extensibility. If this was made with american bread flour the hydration would probably need to be around 85-90% to get a dough of the same consistency.

A quarter slice opened like a book:
Looking at it like this I can't complain, I guess. 



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Perfect size!   Perfect "look!"   :)   I'm happy for you!

mwilson's picture

Thanks Mini. Really appreciate that.

Although I can't help wonder about the size of your feet..?!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I picked up a loaf the other day that was about that size.  I can't remember it weighing a kilo though.  I cut it in half and stuck it in the microwave oven to keep it from drying out.   The MW does double time as a bread box.

Did you want to borrow my hairy costume for a remote location video?  Complete with optional arm extentions and a cone head!  Freshen it up with a little shoe polish.   Take a fresh loaf with you for bait.  Seriously, might actually start some kind of cultural exchange.  Wonder what you'd get back in trade?   :)

Update edit:  Just picked up another one... 40cm long    smaller than my shoe size!  :)  

mwilson's picture

What would I get back in trade? I wonder?!

I will happily make this perfectly massive loaf again!


nicodvb's picture

Nice big foot, Michael. You are right, the crumb should be more open and I'm afraid that you will have to raise hydratation even more. Remember that in italy flour are generally weak or worse, a 10% proteins or less is very common. Ciabattas are made with huge hydratations by all means and with little or no manipulation.

mwilson's picture

Hey Nico.

Two thirds of the flour is 9.4% protein. Trust me the dough was slack but admittedly not as slack as some people go.

Excess water for the sake of it seems nonsensical to me. A dough that is overly hydrated gets that glassy crumb and I don't like that!

I must confess I have made ciabatta very well for many years now and I consider myself an expert. I've made ciabatta with very weak italian flour and at even 78% its slack enough. It is as flat as a puddle after mixing.

The slacker the dough the more stretch and folds are required to get a dough with good strength for shaping - I like to shape ciabatta and believe it should be.

With this recipe there isn't enough time to perform that many stretch and folds. The yeast levels of the biga are very high and munch through sugar like it's going out of fashion.

Ciabatta isn't always very wet. see Massimo Vitali's ciabatta