Ciabatta is of Italian origin and is one of the lightest bread you can bake. The bread dough is made with almost 85% hydration. It is wet, sticky and very tricky to work with. When the dough is placed in a very high temperature oven the water evaporates leaving behind a well risen and extremely light loaf. Ciabatta makes a great sandwich bread.
I like working with high hydration dough but most of mine are about 75%. Working with 85% is something else altogether. It is hard to shape as it does not hold the shape very well. The dough is sticky but you cannot add too much flour as it absorbs the flour quickly.
I searched for a good formula for this bread but did not find any. Finally I made my own. I mixed just enough dough for one loaf. I used 200 gm of flour and calculated everything else. I mixed the dough very late one night, after 11:30 pm and left it in the refrigerator for the bulk fermentation. Next day I shaped the dough and gave it a short proofing time (about three hours). I then baked it in my dutch oven. I am really pleased with the result.
You will need
200 gm bread flour
170 gm water
3 gm instant yeast
3 gm salt
2 gm sugar
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl with wet hands. Form a very wet dough. Knead for about 5 minutes until you feel the texture of the dough change. It will be smooth and elastic and not as sticky. It will be very wet and will not form a shape. Cover and keep for 6-8 hours for the bulk fermentation.
Transfer to a lightly floured working surface and shape like a slipper. Pull the dough along the length and fold over.
Place on a parchment paper sprinkled with flour and keep aside for an hour.
Preheat the oven with the dutch oven inside to 500 F. Place the shaped dough on a parchment paper inside the dutch oven. Put the lid back on and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 20-25 minutes until you get the desired color. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.
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