Ciabatta

I made ciabatta! It had a chewy crust and tasty crumb and everything!

Ciabatta

The overall process is as follows (recipe adapted from here):

  1. Make a sponge of yeast, water and flour. Leave it for 12-24 hours.
  2. Make a dough by adding more yeast, milk, oil, flour, water and salt. Leave to rise.
  3. Separate and shape dough loaves, being careful to preserve as much air as you can. Leave to rise.
  4. Bake in the oven.

What You’ll Need

  • 2½ tsp dry yeast
  • 950g/3½ cups sifted bread flour (strong/high gluten)
  • 5 tbs. warm milk
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp. salt
  • water
  • Baking paper
  • Baking/pizza stone (optional, can use a tray)

The Process

Make the sponge

  • 1 tsp. dry yeast
  • 250ml/1 cup warm water
  • 350g/1½ cup sifted bread flour (strong/high gluten)
  1. Take a medium sized bowl and add the warm water and yeast.
  2. Leave it to sit for five minutes to go frothy (and thus prove the yeast is working).
  3. Add the flour and stir together.
  4. Cover with cling film and leave to sit in a coolish spot for 12-24 hours (not the fridge).

Make the dough

  • 1½ tsp. dry yeast
  • 5 tbs. warm milk
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 250ml/1 cup warm water
  • 600g/3 cups sifted bread flour (strong/high gluten)
  • 2-3 tsp. salt
  • (possibly some additional warm water/flour to achieve the right consistency)
  1. Take a large mixing bowl and add the warm milk and yeast.
  2. Leave it to sit for five minutes to go frothy (and thus prove the yeast is working).
  3. Add the sponge mixure, the oil and the water. Mix together.
  4. Add the first two cups of the flour and the salt and mix together.
  5. Keep adding flour until the dough gets to the right consistency. It should be quite moist but still possible to be worked by hand. (See notes below).
  6. Knead the dough until it is nice and smooth.
  7. Oil a large bowl, place the dough in it and cover.
  8. Leave to rise in a warm place until tripled in size.

Create the loaves

From this stage on we want to do our best to keep as much air in the bread as possible. Don’t punch down or squash the dough, and try to minimise handling.

  1. Lightly flour as many pieces of baking paper as you intend to make loaves. (This just makes it easier to handle.)
  2. Divide the dough into 2-4 pieces (I suggest either flattish and rectangular or more loaf-like) and put one onto each piece of baking paper.
  3. Cover and leave to rise for another hour or so.

Bake in the oven

  1. Preheat oven and tray/baking stone to 200c.
  2. Turn each each loaf upside down and transfer to another piece of baking paper (reuse the ones used so far).
  3. Use the baking paper to transport the loaf to the oven.
  4. Spray/brush the loaves with water three times within the first 10 minutes of cooking.
  5. Cook for a total of 15-25 minutes (depending on loaf size) until bread turns golden.

All done. Eat the yummy bread!

Notes for next time

  • I would like to increase the openness of the crumb (i.e. more holes). The advice I’ve seen indicates that you need to make the dough even wetter – but then it gets very hard to work. The suggestion was to knead the dough in the bowl (or use a mixer).
  • Someone else suggested doubling the olive oil.