Ciabatta Bread

Ciabatta |

This week’s technical challenge was the ciabatta loaf. When Paul said to the contestants “be patient” – he wasn’t kidding. This dough takes forever to rise and it’s an investment in time to bake. Frustratingly, the contestants on Great British Bake Off were challenged to make these loaves in an afternoon. So I was a bit surprised when I went to the official Paul Hollywood recipe they posted only to find that this was going to be an all day (overnight in fact!) project…

My loaves turned out a little flatter than I would have liked, but that may be due to my handling the dough a little too much, but I was successful in getting the uneven air holes in the final bakes (a characteristic of good ciabatta!). One of my loaves even surprised me with a heart inside! Ben ended up using these to make paninis for lunch this week, so they definitely were put to good use!


For the starter dough:

  • 250 grams bread flour
  • 190 ml water
  • 15 grams yeast
For finishing the loaves:
  • 250 grams bread flour
  • 10 grams yeast
  • 190 ml water
  • 12 grams salt


1. The night before you want to bake your loaves, make the starter dough. Mix the flour and water in a large bowl, then add the yeast. Whisk for three minutes and leave to rise overnight (or at least eight hours).

2. The next day, add the remaining flour and yeast to the bread mixture and mix well. Then add in the water and salt to form, mixing for about five minutes until it forms a wet, sticky dough.

3. Transfer your dough to a large oiled square container and leave it to rise for at least one hour, or until it doubles in size.

Ciabatta heart |

4. Quickly flip the container upside down onto a heavily floured work surface to turn out your dough. Leave it to rest for another 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 465ºF (240ºC).

5. Cut the dough into 3 long strips and gently shape them into ciabatta loaf shapes.  The dough is really sticky and runny, so this can be a bit tricky. Just don’t overwork the dough, or you’ll lose all your lovely air bubbles inside and the loaves will turn out really flat.

Ciabatta heart |

6. Place your loaves onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper, then leave them to rest for 10 minutes. This will help the dough to get that last bit of rising in before baking, hopefully helping to make up for any air lost while handling the dough.

7. Bake your loaves for 25 minutes until golden, then immediately transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Ciabatta heart |

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