CIABATTA (Biga Starter Method)

by - July 19, 2017

Ciabatta (Italian White Bread)!

Two years ago I shared a Ciabatta recipe that was good but I’ve recently found an even better recipe. 

This recipe is adapted from “Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book” that was a Christmas gift from a thoughtful friend. I found this recipe rather interesting as it uses milk. As explained in the book, “we learned that milk contains a protein fragment called glutathione, which acts to slightly weaken the gluten strands. A small amount of milk was enough to moderately reduce the size of the bubbles”.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.

Recipe adapted from “Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book” with some modifications.

Recipe - Ciabatta (Biga Starter Method)

Yields: 1 big loaf


Biga Starter:
1 cup (128g) all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp instant yeast
½ cup (100g) water, room temperature

Main Dough:
2 cups (256g) all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp instant yeast
¾ cup (140g) water, room temperature
¼ cup (54g) milk, room temperature


For the Biga:
  1. Combine flour, yeast and water in medium bowl and stir with wooden spoon until unform mass forms, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with Clingfilm and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
For the Main Dough:
  1. Place sponge and dough ingredients in a bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook and knead bread on medium speed (No. 2.5 to 3 for Kenwood Chef) until smooth and shinny (dough will be very sticky) and pulls away from sides of bowl for about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer dough to a large bowl, cover tightly with Clingfilm and let it rise at warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (I did not transfer to a large bowl. I let dough rise in the stand mixer bowl with cover Clingfilm)
  3. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with vegetable oil spray. Fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. 
  4. Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times (for total of 8 turns). Cover with Clingfilm and let rise for 30 minutes.
  5. Line the flat baking pan with parchment or non-stick baking sheet and dust with flour. Transfer the dough prepared flat baking pan. Use the scraper fold shorter side of dough towards center, overlapping them like business letter form. With well-floured hands, press dough into rough 12 cm X 21 cm rectangle. Let loaves sit at warm place for 30 minutes (surface of loaves will develop small bubbles).
  6. 15 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 230 C (450 F).
  7. Spray loaf lightly with water and bake for 22 to 27 minutes until crust is deep golden brown. 
  8. Spray loaf with water twice more during first 5 minutes of baking time.
  9. Transfer loaf to wire rack, discard baking pan and parchment sheet, and let cool to room temperature about 1 hour before slicing and serving.

  1. For kneading, please regard the timing provided as an indication only. It is only meant as a guide.  Timing may differ depending on the brand of flour and electric mixer used. The protein content may vary from one brand of flour to another.
  2. The liquid measurement given is also a guide.  It is advisable to always reserve some liquid and not add it all in one go.  This would give you the opportunity to adjust if necessary. If dough is too dry, add the reserve liquid one tablespoon at a time until the right consistency.  This is because each flour absorbs water and hydrates differently.
  3. Please note that the proofing timing may also vary depending on your climate and environment. The humidity and temperature at your place will influence how your dough rises.
  4. Do also note that the baking temperature and timing provided are what works for my oven and should also be regarded as a guide only. Every oven behaves a little differently, so please adjust accordingly for your oven.

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  1. Hi Yean Ley,
    i like your blog very much, just to check with you, i notice most of the sourdough bread need to bake at 250C, is it possible to bake at a lower temp, as i am very worry my build in oven will burst, because it seems very hot, even though the oven indicator shows that can go up till 275C.

    1. Hi, thanks for asking and visiting. Yes, you can lower to 230C if you worry. But, this recipe is not sourdough ya.
      Cheers :)