The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Quick Sour Ciabatta

NZBaked's picture

Quick Sour Ciabatta

Hi The Fresh Loafers,


Thought I would share my 'turbo sourdough Ciabatta recipe with you guys.

The pictures loaves were baked in a swing-tray oven on a plant line, using a hearth or baking on a stone will absolutely produce better results with a more open crumb.

Strong white bread flour 80%

Rye flour 20%

Warm water 70%

Sour dough starter 40%

Compressed bakers yeast 2%

Salt 1.4%

Bread Improver 0.4%

Total time: approximately 2hr 15min

1. Mix flours, Improver and water and let autolyse for a minimum of 30minutes

2. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix then scrape out the dough into an oiled, shallow sided dish. Cover and proof for 1hour(40degrees Celsius and 80% humidity if possible, or a hot water cupboard).

3. Dust the top side with rye flour, flour work bench and tip upside down, shaking gently until it falls out. Be careful at this stage to ensure you retain as much gas as possible.

3. Cut into square loaves, fold once and tuck the sides. Continue to use flour as needed to work the extremely slack dough.

4. Bake for 27minutes @ 240degrees Celsius with steam if possible. Panned or not is your decision.

5. Cool on a rack and enjoy.

With the use of such a high percentage of sourdough starter, the actual water % is sitting at around 80%. It is very slack dough so take due diligence with handling.

I do not score the dough and let it tear in its own unique fashion.

If you are scared you have lost too much gas during handling you can proof further at the individual dough piece stage- or retard in a fridge overnight for an instant breakfast loaf.

The use of bread Improvers to some here may be foreign and some may think they are not needed but they really help to speed up the process by assisting the breaking down of starch, gluten development, gas retention and starch gelatinization. 

My Improver I use contains soya flour, beta amylase, ascorbic acid and emulsifier SSL. Be sure to steer clear of any Improvers that contain reducing agents for this recipe.


Happy to answer any questions and looking forward to your opinions.

Doc.Dough's picture

There is clearly something wrong with this first line:

1. Mix flours, Improver and water and let levain for a minimum of 30minutes

after that, what is the hydration of your starter, and what is the difference between your levain and starter?

NZBaked's picture

Hi Doc,

Sorry for any confusion.

My flour, water and Improver mixture is not levain, as the French would refer, I just call the process occuring that for simplicity and lack of a better word. 

Basically I am developing the bulk of the gluten network and homogenizing the Improver into the mix to allow it's amylase enzymes to catalyse the digestion of starch into smaller sugars.


My wheat sour is 100% hydration, I have found that if I add it to my spiral mixer at the start, I am pretty much stirring  soup and the dough will not cling to the spiral to develop.That being said, I am mixing very small batches in a 200kg mixer and it probably wouldn't be an issue for a household mixer.

NZBaked's picture

On pondering, I guess it is a form of autolyse- but the dough is mechanically developed before the autolyse, and the gluten network reformed and strengthened by oxidising disulfide bonds between proteins from the dehydroascorbic acid that was introduced in the improver.

I have no idea if there is really a term for a process like this, but autolyse is probably the most fitting and explaining. 


I have modified the post to display this

NZBaked's picture

A French baker I used to work with told me that levain in baking meant simply 'to wait' so I have often used it to explain things other than a sourdough starter.

I think when most people think of an autolyse the flour and water are only just incorporated and not mixed as early gluten development is not wanted. This is why I am hesitant to call it an autolyse.

When you are using oxidising agents and added enzymes the process is different and a good powerful mix at this stage is important.


I hope I have fully explained this by now --

Doc.Dough's picture

Yes, I think it is functionally an autolyse. And with the extra yeast you can run it fast, but I am not sure what that does for the development of flavors that depend more on time than ingredients.

NZBaked's picture

From my past life as a biologist, I can tell you that to autolyse- autolysis is 'self-digestion' the digestion of one's own tissue by the enzymes contained in that tissue.

Because the enzymes are added to speed it up, it isn't really autolyse, but as you say it is the same function.

As to development of flavour, this step in my recipe isn't for flavour, it is purely to accelerate the process. The wheat sour is used @40% more for flavouring than as a leavening agent- that's where the added yeast comes in.


Good discussion.