For many readers, ciabatta bread is the pinnacle of open crumb, but why doesn’t it work for so many? In no other bread do success and misfortune reside so near to each other than with Ciabatta. You stick to the recipe and instructions exactly, the bread looks perfect in the oven only to bring you back down to reality again when you cut into it- damn, not again!

The Ciabatta recipe I bring to you today is made with type 550 and as hard as it is, without the use of a high gluten flour. Of course, it is easier to achieve an open crumb by using Tipo/Manitoba flour, but the desire to make it work with the 550 alone was too great.

What is the secret to open crumb anyway? Is it the dough, the dough yield, the pre- or sour dough, the rise, the dough build up or just luck?

Very simply- it’s a bit of each and here is a little summary:

  • Pre- and sourdoughs are used exactly when ripe. No over proofing or eroded pre-and sourdoughs. (Over proofing pre-and sourdoughs influences the gluten formation.)
  • Knead the dough well
  • Dough temperature 23-25°C
  • Dough Yield of 170-180 favors an open crumb
  • Fold the dough 2x in the first hour
  • The processing of the dough depends not on time but on the rise. Once the dough has risen 60-70% it can then be further processed.
  • To work the dough, turn it out onto a floured work surface and use the palms of your hands to form it into an evenly thick dough mass.
  • Cut off the desired size with a flipping board (this gives the ciabatta a rustic and torn crust look on the edge – see photo gallery)
  • Subsequent rise in linen cloth (30-45 Minutes)
  • Final rise on baking paper or reusable baking mats.
  • Bake at 250°C with steam
  • Baking on a “baking stone” achieves a better oven spring


Recipe with Lievito Madre & Poolish

700gWheat Flour Type 550/70070%
300gLievito Madre (DY 150)20%
200gPoolish (DY 200)10%
210gBread soaker (DY 350)30%

Lievito Madre

200gWheat Flour Type 550/700

Dissolve the starter in the water and knead in the flour using a mixer. Desired dough temperature of 25-26°C/ Ripening time about 4 hours.

Caution: Before further processing the main dough, remove 100g from the starter and place in the refrigerator until the next dough work up. Only 300g of it is used!


100gWheat Flour Type 550/700

Mix the yeast into cold water and stir until lump-free with flour. Then allow to rise at room temperature for 12 hours. If the poolish rises too quickly, simply place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to proceed.

Bread Soaker

20gDried & toasted bread crumbs
40gSoft left-over bread
150gCold Water

Mix until smooth in a blender!!

Main Dough

700gWheat Flour 550/700
300gmature Lievito Madre
200gmature Poolish
210gBread Soaker
470gCold Water


  • Mix together Wheat flour, water, poolish, and Lievito Madre and allow to autolyze for 40 minutes.
  • After the autolyze, add the salt and mix on slow for 6 minutes. Then mix on fast just until the dough begins to separate from the side of the bowl.
  • Only now is the bread soaker added!
  • Slowly mix in and then knead until the dough passes the window pane test.
  • After mixing, place the dough in an oiled vessel and fold after 30/60 minutes.
  • Then rise for about 150-180 minutes (2/3 volume increase).
  • To work the dough, place onto a floured work surface and form into a rectangular mass. Then, using a flipping board cut the dough into the desired shapes. (Video example here)
  • Place the formed doughs onto a floured linen cloth and allow to proof.
  • Once ¾ proofed place the doughs onto baking paper or reusable baking mats with the flipping board. Then the Ciabatta can finish proofing.
  • Bake the dough in an oven preheated to 250°C reducing to 235°C/ 30-35 minutes.