The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ciabatta with Italian flour

BarbaraK's picture

Ciabatta with Italian flour

Hello Everyone

I'm anxious to try making ciabatta with real Italian flour.  Italian  flours are rather confusing by I came across this information on the

Mediterranean Direct on-line shop site (U.K.) which clarifies them as:

00 Altamura - suitable for soft bread and fresh pasta.  Extra strength

Semolo di Grano Duro - for dry pasta and special bread, Coarse

0 for fresh pasta, bread, pizza

1 and 2 - for bread and pizza - and good combined with some 0

I'd love to hear from anyone who has experience with Italian flour and can suggest which ones can be used for genuine ciabatta and/or "country bread".

Is ciabatta classified as "soft bread"?

Many thanks in advance for your time.








trailrunner's picture

I have a 25 kilo bag of Caputo "00" pizzeria flour. It works perfectly for both Italian biscotti and pizza and also for ciabatta. I have been using it since April and have been really impressed with the quality of the flour and its versatility. I contacted the company and sought their advice on using the pizzaria labeled flour for other things. They were very helpful and stated it would work just fine and it has.  Have a great time with your experiments. c

BarbaraK's picture

Thank you so much trailrunner for your help.  May I ask if you use a domestic oven or WFO? I've read that Caputo does not brown well

unless you bake at a very hot temp. such as WFO  but I've also read that a longer cold retard will produce good browning. I'm not sure I have access

to anything  but the large bag of Caputo which will be too much for me  but there are several other makes available. The Italian flour seems to be much less standardised than ours and I assume that each one has different qualities and  its devoted followers .

Now I know that they can be quite versatile I will be able to have lots of exciting  experiments. Can't wait!

Thanks again for your time.



nicodvb's picture

Barbara, 00 doesn't indicate anything else than the percentage of ashes. Flours in italy are classified by ash content, just like in the rest of Europe (french T55 and german T550 to make an example). Yes, it's confusing because unlike in US and Australia flours are not classified by the intended use. It's stupid, but unfortunately it's how things work on this (sick) side of the ocean.

Actually both the weakest and the strongest flours I have are 00, but there's an abyss between the two. One is good for biscuits, the other is a high gluten flour.

Caputo blu/pizzeria is a flour of average strength. I'm surprised they say it's good even for biscuits.

And no, italian flours are not versatile or magical in any respect. They are good for their intended use and for nothing else.

trailrunner's picture

I have a Miele double oven. I preheat the stone for 45 min at 500 and then bake the ciabatta rolls...I cut the ciabatta into single serving rolls. I find it is easier to deal with 4 at a time on the stone. I have had no problem getting them to brown with the caputo flour. I store it in the freezer in 5# heavy zip lock bags. It has remained fresh . Here is a pic of the rolls. I bulk retard the dough. I then take it out and immediately from the fridge I dump it out on a well floured counter and pat it out a bit and divide it. It is much easier to deal with the cold dough. I then put each roll on a floured couche and let them rise. I flip them over as I place them on the parchment and slide in to the oven at 500. I have found that the dough is very forgiving :) It looks like you have ruined them and then they puff up beautifully. 



BarbaraK's picture

Many thanks trailrunner for your time and all the information. Those rolls look absolutely fab. and lovely photos.

I can't get small quantities of Caputo but have ordered Organic Italian "0" and Altamura Semolina from Mediterranean Direct and am looking forward to experimenting with these and mixes of them.  In the meantime I have a batch of Wessex French T65 in the frig. waiting to go and will see how that

behaves using your method.




Ruralidle's picture

Hi Barbara

I use the Altamura coarse flour from Mediteranean Direct quite a lot, to make a rather generic "Italian-style" loaf which my family love.  I use a variety of flours with it but - most recently - Caputo Pizzeria flour because I bought 25kg to use with my pizza oven and then the summer weather was so c..p that I didn't use any :( .  The Semola di Grano Duro makes the crumb soft (particularly when combined with some EVOO) and gives it an attractive pale yellow colour.  I usually make a biga with 100g of Caputo and 100g of the Semola and then add this to a mix of the same flours to make the final dough.

Happy Baking

BarbaraK's picture

Hello Ruralidle

Thanks for your very useful info.  I posted a reply to trailblazer re. my French T65 batch yesterday.  I'm thrilled with the results as it was all so easy, which was the plan, but didn't expect it would work so well.  I hope to have the Italian delivery next week and am looking forward to working with it and  enjoying the variety of flavours etc.  but I mustn't get above myself after one lucky batch!

I will follow your advice and report back.


P.S. I love your name - particularly as with 25kg bags of flour you don't sound terribly idle!







trailrunner's picture

please post pics !!  Oh the formula I use for the ciabatta is for the sourdough/wild yeast version from Wild Yeast Blog. I like her formula better than any I have tried. It is also wonderful to do by hand. She doesn't do the bulk retard but I added that and it works great. c

BarbaraK's picture

Sorry I don't "do" pics yet but will work on that. I haven't tried sourdough either yet but plan to soon.

My recipe was more or less Hammelman pain a l'ancienne too but my philosophy at the moment  is "less is more"from what I have read on this site and "anything is better than the supermarket".

Also two other pointers picked up here I used this time - 1. the importance of weighing  your water - my liquid measurers were a bit out.

and 2. the baker working with Julia Child on the baguette video making the point that you can never take the recipe as an absolute guide to water as each batch of flour - even bag of - is different from any other and you must learn to feel what the dough needs.

With French T65 I added most of the water - keeping some back for later as I know this flour usually needs less than US or UK flour - and let

it sit for a while.

Then added fresh yeast and water and mixed well.

The added salt. I'm not sure whether it's good to add the salt later with this method as I suspect it didn't fully incorporate but there seem to be two views about when to add the salt.

Mixed well by hand and found I needed the extra water. The flour behaved surprisingly beautifully,was very easy to handle and just right - not too

sticky and not too dry.

Rested on the counter for about and hour an then retarded in the frig overnight.

At this point I followed your directions but I added three folds with short rests in between. The dough continued to be very amenable and lively.

Formed into two batards - I hope that's what they are called - .

I baked for about twenty minutes , moving them around halfway, on my pizza stone.  I would have preferred my cast-iron lasagne dish but

it wouldn't have been big enough.

I was totally surprised at the result , which was a kind of mongrel between baguette and ciabatta.  Nice crisp crust but not as crisp as baguette

with a lovely holey, chewy, tasty golden crumb.  Today the crust and crumb are softer and more like ciabatta - I should say "were" as there is

very little left!




Fabrizio's picture

I buy all my Italian flour from as they have all the types. Caputo i use for Pizza, i use Pivetti for ciabatta and i use Dallari 00 which is only 99p a bag for my fresh pasta. I also get all my other bits from them.

BarbaraK's picture

Thanks Fabrizio. I just found your message. Checked them out and they look very interesting so will try them next time.

Their fresh sausages look yummy too - I love fennel and luganica with lentils!.

Cheers Barbara

Toni's picture

I am making Ciabatta today and I am using only 00 Italian Flour. This is off the website and explains different flours -  Pizza Lab: On Flour Types, Foam and Dough:

This is the gold standard of pizza flours by which most others are judged, but there's quite a bit of confusion as to exactly what it is. You'll read in countless sources that Italian Tipo "00" flour, like the Caputo, is a "soft wheat flour," with a low protein content. This is absolutely untrue and anybody who continues to spread this rumor should be immediately chastised with great prejudice.

The fact is, the label Tipo "00" has nothing to do with protein content. Rather, it refers to the fineness of the milling. Tipo "00" is the finest grade of flour milled in Italy, and it has a consistency similar to baby powder. It's available with several different levels of protein intended for different baking projects, just like American flours (which we'll get to in a moment). The ones you'll most commonly see in pizzerias are the red Rinforzatobag, which features pictures of pizzas and bread, the blue Pizzeria bag, which pictures a single pizza, and — the most common in the U.S. — the red The Chef's Flour bags, which, in fact, contain the exact same flour as the RinforzatoAll three bags of flour have the exact same protein content: 12.5%