Ciabatta with biga

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This recipe needs advance preparation!
Ciabatta with biga
Ciabatta with biga
Servings:4 ciabattas
Calories per serving:748
Ready in:1 day, 13 hours, 20 minutes
Prep. time:1 day, 13 hours
Cook time:20 minutes
Difficulty:Average difficulty
Recipe author:Chef
First published:8th March 2013
Shipton Mill ciabatta flour

This ciabatta is based on a recipe by Richard Bertinet in his book Dough (ISBN 1856267628). Ciabatta flour can be obtained online from Shipton Mill.


For the biga

Ingredients

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  • ½ level teaspoon fresh yeast
  • 180g sparkling mineral water
  • 350g ciabatta flour

For the dough

Method

The biga

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl by hand or in a mixer for 5 minutes until you have a stiff dough.
  3. Cover with clingfilm and leave it in a draught-free area for 24 hours.

The dough

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water and then add olive oil.
  2. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and mix in the water, yeast and oil.
  3. Then, add the biga and mix thoroughly. (This is a very wet mixture so I would recommend using a mixer with a dough hook).
  4. Knead using your chosen method. (You can also do this using your food mixer on the second highest speed for 4-5 minutes).
  5. Oil another large bowl and pour the dough into it.
  6. Allow to rise in a warm place until it has a bubbly and light texture (about 1½ hours), covering the bowl with clingfilm.
  7. Gently deflate the dough with floured fingers and repeat the previous step or leave in the fridge overnight.
  8. If the dough has been in the fridge bring it to room temperature before continuing with the next step.
  9. Generously flour your work surface and using your dough scraper turn out the dough in one piece.
  10. Flour the top of the dough and using your fingers, gently dimple it.
  11. Divide the dough into 4.
  12. For each piece of dough, fold one side of it into the middle and press down and seal with the heal of your hand.
  13. Fold the other side unto the middle, pressing and sealing in the same manner.
  14. Finally, fold in half lengthways and seal the edges so that you end up with a long shape.
  15. Place the pieces of dough onto a couche cloth or piece of linen which has been floured with rye flour.
  16. Make ruches in the cloth between each piece of dough, to prevent them from spreading too much, but do allow a little spreading room.
  17. Cover with tea towels and allow to prove for about 45 minutes.
  18. Preheat the oven to its highest temperature with a tray half-filled with boiling water placed on the bottom. If using a baking stone, put it in the oven before you turn the heat on.
  19. Flour a baking tray or peel, pick up one ciabatta at a time, turn it over, stretching it lengthways a little at the same time and lay on the peel or tray.
  20. Transfer to the oven, reduce the heat to 220° C (425° F - gas 7) and bake for about 20 minutes until light golden brown.
  21. Allow to cool on wire racks.

Variations

See also our recipes for breadmaker ciabatta and Parmesan ciabatta.

Chef's notes

Ciabatta freezes well. Just reduce the initial baking time to 15 minutes, cool, freeze and bake for 15-20 minutes straight from frozen.

Ciabatta bread recipes

We have a number of tested ciabatta bread recipes. Some that are made entirely by hand, others where the dough is made in a breadmaking machine and then baked in an oven and some where the rising and the baking is done in a breadmaker.

Rather like a French baguette the secret to this light bread with a moist bubbly crumb is the long rise time, often with no added sugar. Using just the natural sugars found in the flour to feed the yeast .

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