This post is dedicated to all of my english speaking readers and it's just the first of many other ones signed by ENGLISH label.
You have to know that I work in a cookery school in Florence - Italy - in which for long periods I've been teaching cooking and baking most of all to american, canadian, british and australian people.
By this experience I learnt how different backgrounds on food culture creates different attitude on cooking and when learning italian cuisine often there are different demands and espectations.
That's why I do prefer split up my publishing in two different languages instead of writing them in both, italian and english.
This is one of the recipes I use to teach in my bread classes at school, to those who like go deeper on italian cuisine, in particular in making bread.
The "Ciabatta" is an almost flattened bread which is avalaible almost in all bakery shop across my country.
By stepping into bakery shops in Italy you'll be wondering at the variety of different breads and baking products standing in the showcases, and it's not just a question of shapes...
Bread ingredients themselves can be very different among products shown standing side by side, starting right from the flours.
There's a simple reason for that: Italy is a country divided in regions and by the word "divided" I'd like to highlight that there can be very deep differencies among regions about cooking and baking, but... in-spite of that it's also normal in Italy for many regional breads (almost every town in Italy own its tipical one) being available pretty far from it's land of origin!
Almost everywhere in my country you can find salty bread from Apulia and Sicily, "ferrarese" bread from northern regions, sardinian "carasau" and tuscan unsalty bread (besides to french "baguettes", but this is another fact...)
About Ciabatta bread it's not clear to me which is the exact origin (perhaps from northern Italy...), and anyway it really doesn't matter, it just can be defined as one tipical italian, flattened, salty bread.
It's name could be translated as "slipper", probably inspired by its flattened and stretched shape.
Being tuscan, I use to eat unsalty bread and I'd rather prefer it, nevertheless I do much prefer a well-done salty bread to a bad unsalty one! ;-D
Going deeper on bread-making technique, this dough is based on a longlasting fermentation "biga", eventually brought by kneading to a high hydratation value.
And know you'll ask: What
Practically a "biga" is a preliminary dough made in order to bake better bread, enriching it's flavour, using a smaller amount of yeast, and giving better workability to the dough itself.
For this purpose it's reccomended to use a "strong" wheat flour, namely a flour with a high proteic content, ensuring the required glutinic web development besides to a substantial water absorption.
Making such bread at home is not so straight, but surely it's worth a try.
I higly reccomend you to use a food-processor.
Otherwise if you don't own one, you can try by using hand-technique like the so called "slap and fold" one (very well shown in this video) but I have to warn you how tough can be this job!
“Ciabatta” bread – Biga method
1.000 Wheat flour “Manitoba” kind
440 gr Water
10 gr fresh yeast
Knead shortly these three ingredients and let rest covered possibly at 18°C for 20-24 hours.
Biga (see above)
100 gr wheat bread flour
330 (260+70) gr water
2 gr fresh yeast
11 gr barley malt
22 gr salt
Rip the biga in small chunks and add it to the other ingredients except for the salt, which will be added in the middle of kneading process and for 70 gr of water which will be poured slowly at the end.
Check the final temperature of the dough which preferably should be 27°C.
Let it rest covered in a greased container in a warm place for about 40', then dust the table with flour and gently knock over the dough.
Dust the dough and with a baker-scraper cut it in equal pieces, that have to be ultimately placed on dusted boards leaving the cut side on top.
Let rise 40' then turn gently strechting slightly.
Bake in a very hot oven (240°) possibly with “steam”.
If you're planning a journey in Italy, passing through Florence, apply for a "bread class" with me at "Giglio Cooking" top-rated cooking school on Trip-advisor, in order to learn how to prepare italian bread on your own, I'll be so glad to show you this and many other delicious bread recipes.
You can keep in contact to follow all school activities by subscribing as a follower to the school blog or directly writing at:
I wish I meet you soon in Florence!!