Incorporating a poolish into ciabatta dough significantly enhances both the flavor complexity and the textural characteristics of the bread. A poolish, a pre-ferment made from equal parts flour and water by weight with a small amount of yeast, introduces a longer fermentation process, allowing for the development of deeper flavors and a more open crumb structure. When integrating a poolish into ciabatta, the key is to balance the extended fermentation time with the hydration levels and gluten development.

The technique of folding the dough multiple times, with 45-minute intervals between each fold, is crucial in building strength and structure in such a high-hydration dough. Each fold helps align the gluten strands and incorporate air into the dough, contributing to the ciabatta’s signature open crumb and light texture. The gentle folding process, as opposed to vigorous kneading, is essential to avoid collapsing the delicate network of bubbles formed during fermentation. This method also allows for better distribution of temperature within the dough, ensuring a more uniform fermentation process.

During these rest periods, the dough undergoes subtle but significant changes. The gluten relaxes, making the dough more extensible and less resistant to shaping, while the yeast continues to ferment the sugars in the flour, creating more gas and flavor compounds. The challenge lies in striking the right balance between allowing enough fermentation for flavor and structure development, and preventing over-fermentation, which can lead to a dough that is too extensible and difficult to shape. The result, when executed correctly, is a ciabatta with a complex flavor profile, a moist, open crumb, and a robust crust – all hallmarks of a well-crafted artisan bread.

Italian Ciabatta

GourmetRecipeVault Staff
Ciabatta, an iconic Italian bread, is celebrated for its distinctively porous, chewy texture and crisp, flour-dusted crust. Originating in the Veneto region in the 1980s, ciabatta was created as Italy's response to the popular French baguettes, offering a local bread ideal for sandwiches. Characterized by its broad, flat shape and somewhat elongated appearance, ciabatta is made from a wet, loose dough with olive oil, which contributes to its open crumb structure and delightful flavor. The high hydration level in the dough (usually around 80%) makes it particularly tricky to handle, but it's this very quality that imparts ciabatta with its unique, airy interior and light, yet satisfyingly chewy texture. When baked, the crust becomes beautifully golden and slightly crisp, offering a perfect contrast to the soft, porous inside. Ciabatta's versatility makes it a favorite in various culinary settings, from being the star of a bruschetta appetizer to serving as the foundation for a hearty panini, or simply enjoyed dipped in a fragrant olive oil or a hearty soup. This bread is not just a staple of Italian cuisine; it's a delightful culinary experience that embodies the simplicity and elegance of Italian baking.
Prep Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Time needed for Poolish 18 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 4 people


  • Couche This is basically a linen mat used to place on top the ciabatta right before baking
  • Bench scraper
  • Proofing container
  • Small wooden/cardboard board
  • Peel to place the ciabatta in the oven You can easily use an upside down baking tray
  • Ovenproof pot/pan This is used to place water and ice cubes in order to produce steam as the ciabatta is begins to bake
  • Oven Pizza Stone



  • 294 gr Flour Preferable if a strong flour
  • 294 ml water
  • 1 pinch dry yeast


  • 548 gr Flour
  • 319 ml water
  • 17 gr salt
  • 3 gr Yeast
  • 25 ml Olive Oil



  • In a large bowl, combine the flour and water with a pinch of yeast. Stir until well mixed. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it sit at room temperature for about 18 hours to ferment


  • After the poolish has fermented, in a separate large bowl, combine the remaining flour with salt, yeast, and  olive oil. Mix until the ingredients are just combined.
  • Add the water called in the recipe to the poolish and add to the dry ingredients mixing everything until well combined (a few minutes). The dough will be wet and sticky.  There is no real kneading necessary because we will use a bulk fermentation.  The dough needs to be well combined and relatively smooth. 
  • First Fold: Let the dough rest for 45 minutes, then fold it over onto itself a few times and then place back into the proofing container and let rest 45 minutes.
  • Second Fold: Fold it over onto itself a few more times and then place back into the proofing container and let rest 45 minutes.
  • Third Fold: Fold it over onto itself a few more times and then place back into the proofing container for 45 minutes and meanwhile, place the pizza stone and an oven resistant pot/pan on the lower part of the oven and preheat it. Generally, an oven needs about 45 minutes to fully preheat.
  • Based on how elastic your dough is, you might need to add a fourth fold. I usually do when I don't use a high protein flour.
  • Gently turn the proofing container upside down and let the dough slowly pour onto your surface.
  • Shape and Proof the Bread: Divide the dough into pieces and shape each piece into an elongated loaf. Cover the loaves with a cloth and let them rest for 10 minutes.


  • Using a well floured wooden board or cardboard, transfer from the couche to the board and then transfer to a well floured peel.
  • Place the Ciabattas in the oven on the stone and add water and ice cubes in the pan to create steam...quickly shut the oven door.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes at 250C but after about 10 minutes, lower the temperature to 230C.

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Ciabatta Recipe

Ciabatta Recipe

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