Ciabatta Recipe & Bread Tales

Different Ciabatta Baked Results (crusts)
Same Recipe, different crust results (changes of water, time in the oven, steam)

I’ll keep this post short since I already shared some of my bread stories on my latest Podcast “How A Panamanian Fell In Love With Bread – LittleLadyCook – S2 | Ep7”

If you already listened to the podcast and how I fell in love with baking bread, awesome, if you don’t care and all you want is a recipe and some photos as a guideline, no judgement: I gotchu, but, there is probably better material all over YouTube ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .

As I mentioned on the podcast the reason I first got excited with making ciabatta was when I started learning how to properly bake bread at a restaurant and became a bread baking apprentice for a few months.

Different pockets of air depending on folds
The first on the top I didn’t fold at all, I’m still practicing my folds, I love some holes, but I don’t go overboard with it.

The feeling returned after watching Paul Hollywood go on about bread at the Great British Baking Show. I saw how practical and easy making ciabatta looked like, or so I thought before I figured about the timing with folding.

Ciabatta rolls on kitchen towel
Ciabatta rolls on kitchen towel

Also you can’t even play much this dough, which is such a drastic contrast from enjoying baking challah. The challah dough is so yummy to touch and shape, but the ciabatta only likes rough touching or none, oh all the terrible puns and jokes I’m thinking, I can’t even lol.

I have baked this bread now 13 times at least, you can see some photos on my Instagram story highlight and some of my struggles during winter (it takes longer to raise unless you have a neutral temperature in the house). Now that it is warmer, I’m having a blast baking it.

(video clips I put together of several of my ciabatta baking days)

Ciabatta might just be my favourite bread, when it gets proper raising and folds creating beautiful pockets of air and I now I finally get to do a lovely baking getting the prize of a crispy crust and a perfect touch of chewy dough.

Paul Hollywood’s recipe works just fine if you find yourself craving ciabatta bread and not wanting to wait until the next day to create a starter (Poolish), but I highly prefer a Ciabatta with Poolish and so this is the recipe I recommend if you want to bake a delicious ciabatta at home.

14 hours Poolish and ingredients for Ciabatta.
14 hours Poolish and ingredients for Ciabatta

This is the basic recipe that I’ve tested from the ‘Advanced Bread and Pastry” cookbook by Michel Suas.

You can use a google calculator to change from weight measures to cup measures, but if you’re planning on continue to bake breads I suggest investing in a scale at least, not because of “perfection”, but because you will regret the day you finally make the bread of your dreams and you can’t repeat the recipe.

Floured surface on top of a baking sheet (testing the idea but it makes the space too small). Ciabatta dough and floured kitchen towel.
Floured surface on top of a baking sheet (testing the idea but it makes the space too small). Ciabatta dough and floured kitchen towel. Mist Water Bottle on picture

On the book there is a lot of explanations from Poolish, percentages of fermentation, temperature, etc. But if you’re in my blog you are most likely just like me an enthusiast and a beginner, so don’t let that overwhelm you, I baked before even learning what ‘folding’ meant, sometimes making mistakes that take you through a different path, just enjoy the process and worst case scenario if you screw up the bread, as long as it is not raw, use it for bread pudding and try again another day.

Poolish for ciabatta
Poolish, I place it in front of the kitchen window in winter, and in summer I place in dining room in cooler spot.

CIABATTA WITH POOLISH (notes from Michel Suas Cookbook)
Makes 2 Ciabattas 1lb each, or 6 rolls.

Poolish Recipe
6.75 oz  Bread Flour
6.75 oz  Water (room temp)
1/8 tsp Instant Yeast

Mix in a bowl with a fork for a minute, cover with plastic wrap, set timer 12 hours don’t wait more than 16 hrs, your Poolish might die. Keep in place that’s not colder than 65F nor hotter than 71/72F.

12-16 HOURS

Ciabatta Recipe
10.9 oz Bread Flour
6.8 oz Water
1/8 tsp Instant Yeast
0.2 oz Salt
0.5 oz Oil

Put flour + salt in the stand mixer (hook attachment)
Add water to your poolish bowl and softly mix/folding with silicone spatula
Add poolish + water combo to the flour bowl, add oil and yeast
Mix in med-low speed until combined, stop at times and use your spatula to make sure all the flour is mixed in.
Mix another 2 more minute in medium speed
Placed in a greased bowl (I use a square one to maintain ciabatta square shape, but use whatever you have)
Cover with clean kitchen towel and let it rest 3 hours
DURING THESE 3 HOURS 2-3 folds (this video shows well, I do my folds every 35/45 minutes and let the longer rest for the end).

NOTE: if you don’t have a stand mixer, this guy’s method looks pretty legit (click for video).

UPDATE WHOLE WHEAT CIABATTA: I’m still testing whole wheat ciabatta. I’m doing the Poolish with whole wheat flour (same amount) increased water so using 7oz of water for the Poolish. So far I’ve only tested at 12 hours and there’s not a lot of bubbles on top, but yes at the bottom of the poolish, plus it is growing just the same.

The regular recipe I testing first 75% whole wheat and 25% bread flour. The second test is happening as I’m typing this which is only 2 oz of Bread Flour in the recipe. I’ll come and update and hope to continue testing. I’ll share photos too.

This container helps to maintain the square shape of the ciabatta
This container helps to maintain the square shape of the ciabatta (remember to cover with a towel or a lid if it’s tall enough).


Add generous Flour surface
Add generous Flour long Kitchen Towel or bread cloth if you have
Invert your ciabatta container on top of the floured surface and let it slide softly, tap on top a little if needed, but it should be pretty smooth at this point.
Pastry cutter or a sharp knife cut as you prefer, two loaves or 4 or 6 rolls and place each on floured cloth, move as little as necessary your dough, if it’s your first time you might be clumsy and that’s fine, just make sure you get it all separated on the towel and cover with another towel. (see pics).
Preheat Oven at 450F with large cast iron or baking sheet inverted inside so it gets pretty hot, it helps for bottom crust, etc.
Let it rise again 30-45 minutes
Get water boiling a few minutes before you plan to bake your bread. and place in a small baking pan inside of the oven (unless you have a fancy steamer oven). Also save a few ice cubes and if you have a mist spray bottle, fill it up with warm water before baking the ciabatta.


This part is tricky, I use a pizza peel with parchment paper on top and place the bread in there and just slide in oven.
If you don’t have that, don’t be afraid, it’s going to get hot, but you are going to have to work quickly: use your oven mitts/towel and place the EXTREMELY HOT inverted baking sheet on top of your stove, place parchment paper on top and quickly place the bread on top of parchment paper (carefully so you don’t lose any air in that dough).
Spray once or twice the warm water on top of the dough and quickly place inside of the oven that already has boiling water inside of a pan on the rack below. Throw in one or two ice cubes and spray a few times, and close the oven door carefully.
Bake 30-35 minutes depending on how you cut your dough and on how baked you like your bread, try different times every time and take notes.


After the bread is baked, let it rest, some people wait hours or the next day, I wait until it is just a touch warm because I like warm bread with butter, but once it was cooled off completely you can wrap in plastic and place in freezer if you have to much bread, you can thaw overnight inside of the fridge another day and toast in oven at 375F for 2-3 minutes before serving it.

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