The Fresh Loaf

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Ciabatta...A high hydration challenge for new bakers

Trptman's picture

Ciabatta...A high hydration challenge for new bakers

So let's talk ciabatta. The wonderful "Italian Slipper" as it is known. Characterized by large holes and a soft, airy crumb. The high hydration dough can make it extremely difficult to work with and shape. Ciabatta is one of the ultimate challenges for a new baker like me. Yet I was persistent. My first loaf came out of the oven looking AMAZING but had a crumb like store bought sandwich bread and cardboard. Attempt number two resulted in a decently open crumb and much improved taste, but still lacked what I was for. Fast forward to when college lets me try for a third time. SUCCESS!!!! Taste was spot on, the holes were almost too big. There is still significant progress to make, but I feel like I'm finally on the right track.


200g bread flour

2tsp instant yeast

200g water

Main recipe: 

500g bread flour

360g water

14g salt

2Tbsp extra virgin olive oil



1. 3 hour autolyse with sponge

2. Combine the rest of the ingredients and mix, let rest for one hour

3. 5 stretch and folds, 30 mins apart

4. Divide and shape

5. Let proof on a baking sheet for 30 mins

6. Preheat oven to 450 with a tray of water on the bottom shelf

7. Bake until golden and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap the bottom (took me about 35 minutes for 3 loaves at the same time).


Let me know if you try this recipe, I'd love to know how it turns out! And see photos below!

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

My goodness those are lovely indeed. When I do try these your loaves would be what I would like to aim for.

Ru007's picture

These look really good! Well done :)

Floydm's picture

Very nice!

bigcrusty's picture

Dear Trptman,

Loaves like fine to me.  I've used the enclosed for my ciabbata (Jason's Croccidillo Ciabatta) and have had consistent outcomes.  I usually make for Thanksgiving and Christmas and use an mixture of garlic, rosemary, onion brushed on during the bake.  The recipe calls for 500 gms. flour, 485 gms water 20 gms salt and 20 gms yeast.  The only time I've had an issue was trying to incorporate my starters as the leaven.  It's like pancake dough so I don't fold but I do flip it when I put it on my peel so the air distributes in the crumb.  It appears my hydration is higher.  The recipe is insistent on letting the dough triple on its bulk fermentation.  You may want to experiment with the hydration but if you are satisfied with your outcome stick with the winner.



Big Crusty

dabrownman's picture

The ciabatta needs to be flipped over right before baking  like bigcrusty says.  Your large holes at the top will be redistributed and the crumb will be perfect.  Plus it is just plain fun to do it.  Everyone freaks out the first time but soon it is just the way ciabatta is made:-)  Otherwise it is grand!  Well done and happy baking