HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Ciabatta Help!


I'd like to know your opinions about my flawed ciabatta dough. I'm following the recipe from 'The Professional Chef':

Pre-ferment: bread flour (326 g / 11.5 oz), water (227 g / 8 oz), instant dry yeast (0.5 g / 1/8 tsp). It ferments at 24ÂșC for 24 hours.

Dough: bread flour (680 g / 1 lb 8 oz), water (567 g / 1 lb 4 oz), instant dry yeast (8 g / 2 tsp), pre-ferment (496 g / 1 lb 1.5 oz), salt (20 g / 2 tbsp).

I mixed the ingredients in the KitchenAid at velocity 2 for 5 minutes. The problem is that the dough never separates from the sides of the bowl, it never gets together surrounding the kneading hook like others doughs do.

The first time I though I was using too much volume for my machine, so the second time I halved the ingredients but nothing improved. In my second attempt, after kneading the dough for 12 minutes I added more flour until the dough finally left the sides of the bowl. But the resulting dough is too hard, not at all like the jelly consistency of ciabatta dough I've seen.

I'd appreciate any suggestions!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What was wrong with the bread on the first go around? The one that didn't separate from the sides of the bowl?

    If the bread was fine in texture and taste, I wouldn't worry about changing it. The hard or tough bread is from adding too much flour.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nothingswrong

      In my first attempt, after mixing the ingredients, I left the dough resting for 30 minutes, as the recipe said, then I was suppoused to 'fold the dough in half four times' which was impossible because it was almost a liquid!. So I thought that this dough was 'wrong', I didn't use it, and started again.
      I was watching videos in youtube and they really can fold their ciabatta dough. I'm sure I did a correct measure of water.

    2. This is a very high hydration dough (80%). It will never gather around a dough hook the way drier doughs will, nor should it. It will always be very soft and almost pourable.

      6 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima

        I assumed for some reason that OP's recipe said the dough should separate from the bowl. Otherwise, why is he/she asking about it?

        Anyway, I agree with bio now.

        1. re: nothingswrong

          Thanks for your answers. This was my first attempt with high hydration doughs!, so, as ignorant as I am, I expected it'll separate from the sides of the bowl, but now I see I was wrong.

          Now the problem is that the recipe said I had to fold the dough after 30 minutes but I cannot fold a dough which has a liquid consistency!

          1. re: AngelaValiente

            Oh I see. I didn't mean to imply that you are "ignorant," just a lot of recipes will say things like "add flour until dough comes away from sides of bowl" or "dough will be very wet/sticky/etc." so you know that you're on the right track. Depending on the environment in your kitchen, the amount of flour can vary widely from the recipe, so the cues given are very helpful.

            I'm no bread expert, but when I work with sticky doughs, I make sure to use JUST enough flour to handle the dough. If it was literally liquid, maybe you should try a different recipe! Sounds like a PITA :)

            1. re: nothingswrong

              Ooops, I'm sorry, I'm not a native english speaker and maybe 'ignorant' is too hard :( but I just wanted to say that I'm not familiar with this kind of dough and I didn't know what to expect :) so I was a little scared

              I'll try to follow your advice, next time I'm going to add a little more flour, just to handle the dough and see what happens,

              thanks for your time!

            2. re: AngelaValiente

              High hydration doughs will feel like soup at first - they're supposed to. The "folding" process will help build gluten and elasticity gradually. The first few folds, though, will just feel like you're slopping soup on top of itself. That's ok. Use a wet scraper to kind of slop the slop on top of itself a few times, then let it rest 15 mins. When you come back to it, you'll see that it's a bit more dough-like. Do it again, rest again, and it will be more dough-like still.

              1. re: biondanonima

                Thanks bio!, I guess I gave up too fast with my dough. I'll try the recipe again and I'll bake it to see what I get. I'll post back

        2. I use a different ciabatta recipe that's around 85% hydration. With that recipe, the dough doesn't start climbing the mixer until around 25-30 minutes - as noted in the recipe and also according to my experience. At that point, as it climbs, it also leaves the side of the mixer and the gluten is considered fully developed.

          4 Replies
          1. re: LMAshton

            So you have to mix your dough for 25-30 minutes with the dough hook?, where can I get your recipe?

            1. re: AngelaValiente

              Oops! I was wrong - it's 95% hydration. Here's the recipe: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2984...

              In the recipe, he says that you'll need to use the mixer for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. With my mixer, it was somewhere around 25-30 minutes.

            2. This is the recipe I use, I don't remember where I got it, but I've tweaked it slightly:
              Ciabatta Bread
              Variaton 1
              500g bread flour
              475g (~2 cups) water (can sub 30g olive oil for 30g water)
              2 tsp. yeast
              15g salt
              Optional: 2-3tbsp chopped rosemary

              Varation 2 (Semolina)
              350g bread flour
              150g semolina flour
              475-485g (~2cups) water
              2tsp. yeast
              15g salt

              1. In mixer: Mix all ingredients except salt till combined with hook, rest for 15-30 minutes.

              2. Add salt

              3. With hook attachment, mix on high speed, it will start out like pancake batter but in anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes it will pull away from the sides of the bowl and start climbing the hook. It is ready when it is just coming off the bottom of the bowl.

              4. Place into an oiled container and let it triple in size, it helps to use a cylindrical container so you can mark where 3x will be

              5. Empty on to a heavily floured counter and cut into 3 pieces. Spray with oil and dust with more flour. Let them proof for about an hour, preheat your oven and baking stone to 240-250C.

              6. The loaves should be puffy and wobbly now. Pick up and stretch into final ciabatta shape, flip them upside down onto parchment paper. Be gentle.

              7. Bake at 240-250C about 20-25 minutes with steam if possible.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sirrith

                Thank you Sirrith, I'll try this recipe too. I won't be happy until I get my perfect ciabatta!.

                Are you using instant dry yeast?

              2. Halving the ingredients may be the issue. However, from what you are saying it sounds like you may need to add some flour, what was the weather like when you were making the dough.

                2 Replies
                1. re: treb

                  It was rainy and wet. I'll try adding more flour!

                  1. re: treb

                    is something wrong when you half the ingredients??

                  2. Your flour may be the issue. I have recently been using a locally milled bread flour that does not absorb water very well, so I have to cut liquids down considerably.

                    If you have made other successful breads with your flour, then this not the issue, but it's something to keep in mind if you experiment in the future.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jammy

                      Thanks for your idea. I was not really paying attention to the flour. I always use different brands. I'll try my recipe with different brands to see what happens.

                    2. I have read your original inquiry along with all the helpful responses and have a thought for you to consider. Making bread is a process that requires precision [and you are doing since you weighed your ingredients] but also experience. Until you have made a dough that produces the bread that you want, you can't possibly know what the dough texture should be. The only remedy is to keep trying until you "discover" what you like.

                      Try more flour. Try kneading for longer. Try more water. High hydration doughs are tricky and take a leap of faith on occasion. The good thing about bread is, even your greatest bread failures will be better than anything you can buy in a standard market.

                      And then please post back. Ciabatta is one of the few breads that I haven't had what I consider to be successful.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: smtucker

                        I'll definitely post back!. Now I see I have a lot of experiments to do and recipes to try.
                        At first I thought it was gonna be easier, just to weight ingredients carefully and measure time and temperature exactly as the recipe said, but now I realize it's more complex (and interesting!)

                      2. Ciabatta dough is a very moist dough which develops large fermentation holes. Ciabatta is the Italian word for an old misshapen slipper or shoe, thus the bread loaf is expected to be a little misshapen.

                        I mix dough for bread with a wooden spoon in a large clear Pyrex bowl that has a lid. After the dough is mixed an covered for the 1st rise, it is allowed to ferment overnight for 8 hours or more in my kitchen, but not necessarily in the fridge.

                        In the morning the dough is dumped onto a floured surface for a short while after kneading the dough, and the bowl is washed and dried before the dough is returned to it for a second rise. When the dough has risen, it is again poured onto a floured surface and shaped. The dough is now ready to be baked on a preheated rectangular pizza stone.

                        My suggestion is for you to get a copy of The Italian Baker by Carol Field and follow her instructions. She gives them for both a food processor and a mixer. I still prefer doing it by hand.

                        BTW, those nicely shaped rectangular rolls at the bakery called Ciabbata ARE NOT!

                        BTW2, I do not discard yeast according to an expiration date. I keep yeast in a glass jar in the fridge. It stays alive for a long time. I have had success with yeast that was 6 years past its expiration date. Long fermentation allows yeast to reproduce, after all it is a living organism.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ChiliDude

                          Thanks ChiliDude,

                          Let me ask you something; did you get your recipe from 'The Italian Baker'?, what are the quantities that you are using for the dough?

                          'The Italian Baker' is the kind of book I was looking for, I'm getting the kindle version!. I hope it helps me to get that big holes ciabatta.

                          1. re: AngelaValiente

                            I did use the recipe as a guide for the ciabatta dough. I use an inexpensive kitchen scale to weigh out the flour. The recipe calls for 500 grams or 3.75 cups. The flour is bread flour which has a little more gluten than all-purpose flour.

                            I have found that using a scale is more accurate than using a measuring cup.

                            I have a BJs membership, and BJs sells King Arthur flour at a reasonable price. It has been a while since I baked the bread. Now that it is getting hot with summer weather I curtail my baking. Fortunately, there is a bakery in the neighborhood that bakes wonderful bread

                        2. No help, except to say that this is my favorite recipe. http://breadbasketcase.blogspot.com/2...