Ciabatta Bread

I love bread! I try to make as much bread as I can, and with all of the places that I have worked in the past few years I have had to make adjustments on how I cook it. I have gone from a conventional oven to a stone pizza oven, to a combi-oven that has steam injection, and now to a convection oven. The two best cooking vessels I have found were the stone pizza oven and the combi-oven, but of course I needed to figure out how to make a good loaf of bread in a convection oven since they are very popular. One of the easier loaves of bread that I love making is called Ciabatta. It originated in Liguria, Italy and now, every city in Italy has their own variation. The most difficult part of making this bread is the handling, as the dough is very wet, but in turn it doesn’t require a lot of handling and kneading, just time.

Ciabatta

Yields about 3 loaves

1.25# Bread Flour

1.75# Water

2/3oz Yeast

~~~

1.25# Bread Flour

.75oz Salt

  • Mix first set of ingredients and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • The next day, add the remaining flour and salt, mix until incorporated. Place the dough in large bin; the wider the better, you will want the dough to stretch out.

Mixed dough ready for proofing and mixing

  • This will be a 3 hour proof, with mixing at 30, 45, and 90 minutes.
  • To mix, get your hand under one end of the dough and lift and fold it over itself and repeat a few times.

Lift one end of the dough up.

Fold the dough over itself a couple of times. During this mixing process you will be developing the gluten's. Repeat this according to the timetable in the instructions.

  • After the last 90 minutes is up, flour your work surface and the top of the dough in the bin.  Slide your hand down and around the side of your bin to release the dough and dump it onto the floured work surface.  Cut the dough into 3-4 equal portions depending on the size loaves you want.

I cut my dough into five portions weighing about 1.25# each.

  • Take each portion and fold into thirds so you form a rough square.
  • Once each piece of dough is folded, go back to the first loaf and gently dock it with your fingers and fold it into thirds again to form an elongated loaf.

After the first fold dock the dough gently with your fingers, you do not want to deflate the loaf too much.

Fold the dough into thirds.

  • Once the second fold is made, roll the loaf over so the seam is down.  Repeat this with the remaining loaves.
  • If you have a baking stone, preheat your oven to 400° and just let the loaves proof on your work table by sprinkling lots of flour on top of the loaves and cover with a towel.  Make sure there is enough flour under the loaves as well to prevent them from sticking.
  • For a convection oven, preheat your oven to 380° and transfer the loaves to a baking tray lined with parchment paper or very light vegetable spray.  Sprinkle the top with flour and cover with a towel to proof.
  • The loaves should take about 20 minutes to proof, you will be looking for the dough to be double in size.
  • Once they have doubled, place them into the oven and bake until the internal temperature reaches 190°F.

Finished product, as soon as you can handle the loaves transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

5 comments

    1. By far the easiest loaf to make and once mastered there are a lot of different ways to make the bread even better. The other day I added 6oz of sourdough starter to it and it made the bread a little chewier, which was great. Next batch I am going to sub milk for some of the water. Have fun!

    1. I wouldn’t say that olive oil doesn’t belong in ciabatta, you will just end up with a different product. It would be softer and the crust would not get as hard on the outside. I would rather dip the bread in olive oil to get the full flavor of the oil.

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