Further Adventures with Ciabatta

Last year I started playing with higher hydration doughs and made a not particularly good ciabatta. At the time I didn't experiment further, so I thought I'd better give it another go. Some online research turned up some super looking recipes on Dan Lepard's Forum. Anyone planning to venture into ciabatta territory is well advised to read this thread.

I decided on my recipe, a combination of two on the first page of the thread, and made my biga (starter) on Thursday. 24 hours later I should have made the final dough but had to go to Coventry, so it was late in the day when I started. This meant that the fermentation time was shortened to about 3½ hours as against the 6 - 7 hours I had planned. Even so, I am quite pleased with the result:



Biga (starter)
75% hydration
300gm Flour
225gm Water
½ tsp Yeast (or 1 tbsp starter)


200gm Flour
150gm Water
9gm Salt (1.8%)

1. Mix Biga to develop gluten.
2. Leave at room temperature, in an oiled bowl, for 12-24 hours.
3. Break it up and add flour and 100gm of the water and mix until it starts to come together. Leave it for 20 minutes.
4. Add the other 50gm water and the salt. Mix for 10 – 15 minutes then put it into an oiled rectangular container.
5. Cover it and leave for 1 hour.
6. Tip it out and gently fold the two outside thirds over the middle third - like folding paper to put into an envelope, I use a dough scraper for this, oil your container again and return the dough to it.
7. Do this twice more with an hour’s gap in between each fold.
8. 3 – 4 hours after the last fold, tip it out onto a well-floured surface.
9. Cut and shape gently so as to retain the air.
10. Roll lightly in flour and prove for 30 minutes.
11. Slash and bake at 220°C until brown. Turn oven down to 190°C after 7 - 8 minutes. They take about 15 - 18 minutes to cook.

Next time I will use a larger container, which should give a flatter loaf.

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