The Fresh Loaf

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Ciabatta with Poolish

Ciabatta with Poolish


This traditional Italian bread is made from a very wet dough and is barely shaped. As a result, it’s full of nice, big holes. Great with olive oil or a good-tasting vinegar, and some pasta. This recipe was adapted from “Bread” by Jeffrey Hammelman.

    * White flour: 100%
    * Water: 73%
    * Salt: 2%
    * Instant yeast: 0.36%
    * 30% of the flour is pre-fermented as a poolish at 100% hydration with .07% yeast


    * White flour: 136 grams or about 1 cup
    * Water: 136 grams or about ½ cup
    * Instant yeast: Just an eeny weeny pinch (about 1/32 of a tsp or 1/10 of a gram)

Final dough:
    * All of the poolish
    * White flour: 318 grams or two generous cups
    * Water: 195 grams or 1.25 cups +1 Tbs
    * Salt: 9 grams
    * Instant yeast: A heaping 1/8 tsp or .5 grams

The night before: Preferment
The night before, dissolve the yeast into the water for the poolish, and then mix in the flour. Cover and let it ferment at room temperature for 12-16 hours. Once the poolish has bubbles breaking on top and has started to wrinkle, it's ready. It'll also smell ... really nice - sweet and nutty.
Mixing and dough development
For the final dough, measure out the water and pour it into the poolish to loosen it up. Then pour the entire mixture into a bowl. Mix together the salt, yeast and flour, and then add it to the bowl as well. Mix it all up with a spoon and let it sit for one hour. At one hour, give it a stretch and fold, followed by two more every 30 minutes. Then let it ferment for another hour or  two, for a total of 3-4 hours bulk fermentation.

Remove the dough onto a well-floured surface, and gently pat it out into a rectangle, carefully degassing any truly gigantic bubbles that you notice. That’s it. No more shaping required. Let it rest, covered, for about 90 minutes.

Dimple the loaf with wet fingers all the way across and almost all the way through to the bottom of the loaf. Load onto a hot stone at 460 degrees with steam and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Let it rest one hour before slicing.