The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help My Ciabatta! - Shelf Life, Less Chewy Crust, Par Bake?

Gstharris's picture

Help My Ciabatta! - Shelf Life, Less Chewy Crust, Par Bake?

Fresh Loaf-ers :),

Thank you all so much. Over the last year or so my baking quality has gone through the roof, in large part due to all of your suggestions, experiences, comments, etc... You are all a big part of why I have the confidence to now open my first restaurant (after 20 years of putting it off).

I finally nailed a ciabatta recipe that I really love. Light, airy, shiny crumb with great taste and mouthfeel, but the crust is a bit tough (chewy and hard), and day 2 its much much chewier and hard. I would love to learn how to make the crust a bit thinner as its going to be the primary bread for my sandwiches and dont want someone to struggle taking a bite or have their ingredients fly out the back like air from a whoopy cushion. Even better, I would love to be able to par bake this, freeze or store in a fridge and bring it to life quickly. 

My questions, with my recipe below (big disclaimer, I am not using an oven with steam - cant afford it... yet).

Is there a trick to make my crust a little less chewy/hard? Possible to make it thinner? Is that a function of baking time? is it all about storage once its out of the oven and cooled? Modify the recipe for less/more hydration?

Tricks for resurrecting the ciabatta day 2? Day 4 the flavor and crumb of an unopened loaf is still awesome, but the crust is too hard. Par bake? If so, should I aim for a temp or just stop after initial oven spring? Bake thoroughly and after cooled wrap in foil, place in fridge, and then in the oven the next day when ready?

How long should a ciabatta last for good food purposes excluding crostini/croutons/breadcrumbs?  



.6 gram yeast

500 grams bread flour

500 grams 73 degree water

(mix and leave overnight - leverage before it falls)


Final dough:

930 grams bread flour

615 grams 105 degree water

10 grams yeast

30 grams kosher salt

1000 grams pre-ferment

Mix well, bulk ferment around 76 degrees (warm temps have helped), 4-5 sets of turns depending on dough/weather, divide, light shape and stretch, couche proof ~1 hour.

Baking at 475 degrees for about 40 min (depends on size, but aiming for smell and good brown crust)



peteycook08's picture

Full disclosure, I don't have much experience baking ciabatta. That crumb looks fantastic, but 40 minutes seems like a long time for a ciabatta. That would explain why the crust is too chewy.

Gstharris's picture

Was a little concerned about that too, but the color looked right. Will lower the time a bit in my next test of a couple loaves.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with half AP flour.  The bread flour is making the chewy crust.  If still too chewy, use more AP and less bread flour.

Gstharris's picture

I thought that might be the case, but I dont want to impact the crumb too much. Would you do the same in the preferment as well, or just in the later dough build?

Thanks a ton for your comment!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

i had to choose one over the other I would start out with bread flour in the preferment and AP in the final dough.

BetsyMePoocho's picture


Ciabatta is sometimes frustrating as it is very wet, sticky, and likes to be eaten the same day.  The following is just 'food for thought' type suggestions....

- Below attached is my formula.

- If you do not use fresh cake yeast substitute it with 0.6% Instant.

- If I'm going to want my Ciabatta to last through the weekend for toast, sandwiches, etc. I will use olive oil as per my formula.  If not I substitute the oil % for water.

- I use a steam generator to induce steam, but I have also use a good quality plant sprayer to mist the dough just as they enter the oven when I bake off site.

- With Ciabatta I do not preform any 'stretch & folds' during bulk.  Mixing & kneading I use a Hobart N50 with a dough hook and the times/speeds listed below creates a well formed shinny dough.  I let it bulk to double, about 1.5hr.

- I turn the dough out on a thickly floured surface, for whatever size I'm making.  Proof for 45 min and flip upside down onto a non insulated sheet.

- If I want a darker crust I do not drop the initial oven temp, but watch closely.  Oh, my crumb is open and very good.  I can not find a photo.

Hope this does not confuse you.  Important thing is take good bake day notes and make adjustments as you go along.  But most important is to have fun.... hey, everything you bake is eatable..