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Sourdough Ciabatta with Biga


There is a story about this bread. Although it looks like it was there since ever, in fact, this specific bread was invented only 40 years ago. French bread was very popular then and still is, all around the world. Italian bread was also great but maybe not as popular. One baker, Arnaldo Cavallari, from a small town near Venice, invented in 1982 a type of bread that suited sandwiches as well as its French competition, the famous baguette.

The ciabatta (translated literally means slipper) had a full success and in few months it became very popular in Italy. Many Italian regions made adaptations to the recipe and many variations were created.

But its success didn't stop in Italy. Two years after, was introduced to UK, and 5 years later to US.

The original ciabatta (called Ciabatta polesana) has a high hydration dough based on a high-protein flour and an open-crumb with big alveoli.

I made ciabatta before following recipes from books (Pumpkin seeds ciabattaCiabattaCiabatta with sunflower seedsCiabatta with pumpkin seedsBuckwheat ciabatta) but I have to recognise that it was just recently that I've discovered its secrets. I am however not ashamed of them because they were part of my journey. Without them, I wouldn't have learned to look for more, to always search for perfection.

All ciabatta attempts I made were perfect as taste but there was something missing.... those big alveoli. I know that as a beginner I was not fully understanding the importance of strong bread flour. I changed my method, I added water, and yes, I can declare that 90% is the highest hydration I ever used with white flour. Baking sourdough bread for my family every single week during all these years improved my skills, and here I am, standing in front of my open crumb ciabatta.

This recipe is easy but it is not for a novice. Handling very wet dough is a nightmare for somebody just starting baking bread. But even if you do not have high skills you can do this recipe if you follow closely the instructions I gave in the video. I also give tips and tricks and I also try to explain why you should do things in a way or another.