Bread & Pastries/ciabatta



hope u can assist.

am using recipe below and problem is that the dough is so slack that its not possible top form it into loaf shapes, moreover as it bakes the shape in not retained and it tends to spread [a bit] out over the flat tray.

am measuring ingredients with a postal scale [till i get it right]. am adding a tablespoon of olive oil.
i mix/knead  by hand which i accept is slightly difficult
this published receipt is from a former head baker paul hollywood

most recipes say the dough should be slack but but if thats the case how do u form it into a small long loaf shape

crust, texture and taste are good

thanks if u can help


Ovenight preparation

       250g/9oz Italian type '00' bread flour

       190ml/7fl oz water

       15g/Żoz yeast

To finish the bread

       250g/9oz Italian type '00' bread flour

       10g/╝oz yeast

       190ml/7fl oz water

       12g/Żoz salt

ANSWER: Hi Mark,

Ciabotta...very slack.

We do not all. We scale an set it out to proof...then bake. The loaf is almost free form! oil.

Second, I can send you a formula if you email me at:

However all discussion comes back to this site...please.


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thanks for that. however im interested to know why no oil, has it got a detrimental effect? and the spread out pancaking, is that normal?



Ciabatta is a bread that is designed to be filled with holes.

The oil will make it too soft, counteracting the reason we put in so much water.

The great amount of water, upwards of 80% sometimes is what makes the loaf so light and airy.

Oil in pizza dough good, ciabatta...not so much.

So let's say you're making two loaves at 680 grams each.

You pull the dough from the mixer, separate the loaves into the desired weights...any pieces go on TOP for proofing, you gently stretch the dough to form a rectangle...easy on the handling, then you flip it over on to you parchment for a good proof...a fair amount of flour on the parchment first. Ciabatta is WET.

In a commercial bakery, we flip it at the last moment onto the loading belt after proofing...not for the faint of heart.

At home, however, you can proof on parchment on the BOTTOM of a bun pan so as to be able to slide the whole affair on to your oven stone, or if you are baking in a pan, just let it proof in the pan.

However, Ciabatta is an artisan bread that deserves not only to be baked on a stone, but with steam.

Steam is provided by keeping a cast iron pan in the bottom of your oven during the pre-heat stage, then after you load your bread on the stone, you pour a cup of hot water into the cast iron pan the quickly closing the door!

You don't open that door to turn you loaf until you see some color...about 12-15 minutes!!!

Ciabatta takes a little practice in the handling stages and is not formed into loaves per se. However I do know some bakers in Europe that like to give the loaf a twist before proofing!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


the info is very helpful indeed. thanks

unfortunately i wrote a long and detailed reply which simply disappeared before i could send it so I'm extremely pissed off.[i type very slowly]

i just got the file back from conversation to ms word doc .  i make by hand so its mainly the tips and ferment and proving times that interest me, i imagine quantities are universal.

can you tell me please:

-what effect does the stretch and fold have?

-should water [for steam] be exact amount so it evaporates leaving a dry heat for good crust?

-i imagine the stones is for the radiant [penetrating] it must provide. is that the reason?

-bearing in mind i mix by hand, i judge initial rise in volume [3x] and the proof also in volume [about 50 percent], can you suggest a correction?

thanks mark

Hi Mark:

Stretch and fold: Builds dough strength ( you don't want to build strength in the mixer ) and also evens dough temperature. Since you are mixing by hand, the stretch and fold is extremely important here.

The water for the steam holds off crust production in the oven until there is some color so as to produce the most oven spring. Once crust forms, all oven spring (loaf expansion) stops. A cup is enough to provide that humidity in the oven. After about 12-15 minutes, when you see some color on the loaf, you open your oven, rotate the loaf. This allows the oven to dry. Also, to make a great curst at home, the last five minutes of baking should be with the oven door cracked open a bit. This ensures a good crust. In a commercial oven, an exhaust system pulls humidity out to allow the last half of the bake in dry conditions.

The stone on which we bake artisan bread provides a surface on which the loaf can begin immediate heat transfer to get that yeast to begin eating and expanding. Once the loaf temperature gets to 140 degrees F, the yeast dies. And it provides a thorough bake.

The Bulk fermentation (the initial proofing before shaping should remain as I say in the formula so that the flavor gets a chance to develop along with dough strength.

The final proof is to get the loaf to about 90 per cent of expansion so the rest happens in the oven. The loaf is proofed fully when you poke it gently with your finger and it springs back slowly. Too fast and the loaf needs further proofing, no spring and it is over proofed. The speed at which the loaf proofs is a function of the temperature in the room. A cold room takes more time.

Let me know how you do!

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Ralph Onesti


Anything to do with yeasted doughs: First off...Please do not include sensitive material and please do not set your question to "private". answers may benefit someone else with the same problem. Breads: sourdough, levain, rye, brioche, laminated doughs, French doughs, straight dough, enriched doughs, danish, etc.


I grew up in the pastry business in South Philadelphia many years ago. I trained with the best in bread baking artisan style loaves.

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