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Perfect Ciabatta

This loaf is one of the finest I’ve produced in recent memory. The interior was moist and chewy and the exterior was wonderfully crisp. It tasted so perfect. I think the reason that the texture turned out so well is probably the fact that it received only the barest minimum of kneading during its rises, hence there was very little risk that I would over- or under-knead it.

I used the recipe for the Very Lightest Ciabatta from King Arthur Flour but I made a few changes. The two minor changes were using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast and reducing the amount of olive oil to an amount that I would describe as a “splash”. It was probably one to two teaspoons.

The major change I made was not using the starter. But wait! Contrary to what you might be inclined to think, I don’t think this actually changed the recipe. I used about a cup of pizza dough instead. I made the dough last week and a chunk of it was still sitting in my fridge. The purpose of a starter is to simulate the incorporation of already leavened dough into a new loaf, a purpose that was accomplished successfully with the dough. Additionally, the pizza dough did not introduce any ingredients that were not already included in the bread. I let the dough sit out for about 4 or so hours to warm up and get a little bubbly. I then mixed it into the water/yeast mixture for the dough, added the flour… and the rest is according to the recipe. Since I used a baking sheet and not a stone (as I don’t own one), I set the loaves directly on the oven rack for the last 5 minutes of baking time to make sure the bottoms of the loaves were crisp.
Next time you have pizza dough in the fridge, remember that you can use it in place of the starter in this recipe. It’s worth it.

It tasted so good that I had eaten almost the entire first loaf before my soup was ready. Thanks, Anne, for the recipe!

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  • drbiggles
    April 26, 2005

    OooOOooOoo. I like slicing those lengthwise and making a sausage sammich. A little nighttime snackwich. Or a loaf of toasted garlic cheesy tomato cilantro bread snacky snack.
    Or roasted cauliflower …

  • JourneyGirl
    April 27, 2005

    This may become my new favorite blog to lurk on. 🙂 A good ciabatta recipe has eluded me for some time, and its CameraMan and I’s favorite. Thanks for the tips, Nic!

  • Nic
    April 27, 2005

    Dr. Biggles – I never thought aobut making a roasted cauliflower sandwich. But this is a great snacky, sandwichy loaf.

    Journeygirl – I’m glad you’re enjoying it! I hope that the ciabatta works out for you – I was suprised that it was so easy to work with!

  • Anne
    April 28, 2005

    Gah!! Now I want to make Ciabatta, like crazy.. I don’t have any starter dough though. Hm. I do have sourdough starter in the freezer, but that’s rye.. hm..

    Glad you liked the soup! Simple, but pretty tasty!

  • Melissa
    April 28, 2005

    Hi Nic,
    I’ve got a pizza dough (I did a biga starter) in the freezer, I think this weekend I’ll try your recipe. I like to use fresh yeast, how much do you think I should use?

  • Alice
    April 28, 2005

    Your ciabatta looks great! I’m glad to know about the pizza dough…I would not have thought of that myself!

  • Nic
    April 28, 2005

    Anne – I’ve definately never heard of rye ciabatta, but I bet it would taste pretty good!

    Melissa – I think that the proper ratio is 1 tsp of active dry yeast to 2 tsp fresh yeast.

    Alice – A moment of inspiration! I’ve seen recipes that start with already made dough, and until this one, it never occurred to me either.

  • Rickie Bushey
    November 22, 2005

    It”s quite impressive.

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