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Ciabatta is Italian white bread, created in 1982 by a baker in Adria, Veneto, Italy, in response to popularity of French baguettes. The ingredients are real simple, but still there are some tips you should follow to have airy bread.

Ingredients (for 2 big ciabattas):

Biga (leaven for dough, what you should prepare a day before baking):

  • 2 cups (480 ml) bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (2 g)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) room temperature water

Dough:

  • 3 cups (720 ml) bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (12 g)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (360 ml)

One day before baking ciabatta make the biga (biga needs to stay at least 12 hours to even 72 hours). Mix together bread flour, yeast and water.  Cover the boil with plastic wrap and let it stay overnight in room temperature.

For the bread mix the flour, yeast, salt, water and Biga all together. It’s the dough where you don’t have to knead by your hand. You can just stir the mixture with wooden spoon until it forms a ball. But you can also do it by your hands or with food processor. Stir it about 4 to 5 minutes. The dough will be sticky, but it has to be elastic.

Transfer the dough to a slightly oiled bowl and let it rise in a rather warm place about 1 hour.

Sift flour onto your work surface and try to formulate ciabattas from the dough. Be gentle with the dough and definitely use flour  onto the surface (rather more flour then less). Transfer them to baking tray which is covered with parchment paper. Let the ciabattas rise another hour at room temperature place.

Bake it with 475°F (245°C) about 15 minutes and continue with 400°F (205°C). about 15 minutes.

Tip: definitely use bread flour, because it has more protein content than all-purpose flour has. Bread flour helps with gluten development and it makes ciabatta especially chewy and gives elastic crumb. Using bread flour will give you a heavier and denser loaf, but if you’re getting heavy, dense loaves with all purpose flour, then something else might be going on.

Tip: always let rise the ciabatta dough twice. First after adding biga to the dough and second when you have formed the ciabattas, before baking. Both time let them rise about an hour.

Tip: the dough will be wet, but it has to be elastic. It’s the bread flour what makes dough elastic

Tip: handle ciabatta dough gently, so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible

Tip: when baking ciabatta add cold water in a large bowl (or another baking tray) in a oven. First 15 minutes bake the ciabattas with a water bowl to give softness and another 15 minutes without water, to give extra crispiness to crust.

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