Please read the article before you attempt to bake this high hydration ciabatta. For beginner bakers, I would advise to first experiment with my other recipe called “Easy Ciabatta“.
So what does 100% Hydration mean? It simply means that you use the same amount of water and flour. This recipe uses 500g Bread Flour and 500g Water. It’s a simple calculation: 500g Flour / 500g Water x 100 = 100%. Where the other ciabatta recipe uses 500g Bread Flour and 400g Water and that calculates to an 80% hydration.
What should I know before attempting this recipe? Ok, for starters, you won’t be able to knead this dough. You either mix it by using a stand mixer with the beating attachment OR you can do a series of the stretch and fold method. Secondly, because of the sloppy dough, it is very difficult to shape and you need some experience. But hey, watch the video and see for yourself…
What method should I attempt, the mixer of stretch and fold? Personally, I would do the stretch and fold method. It is hands-on, and you get a better understanding of how gluten forms because you can actually feel it tighten as you do the stretch and folds. Yes, it is quicker with a machine, but where is the fun in baking? If you decide to use the machine it should at least run for 10 – 12 minutes or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and it forms a ball in the center of the bowl.
What is the difference between 80% and 100% loaves? Only the air holes. That is it. With the 80% hydration ciabatta, you do get air holes but not as prominent as the 100% hydration ciabatta. The wetter the dough, the bigger the air holes.
What are the instructions if I want to make this bread with a machine mixer? Ok, that is simple: Add the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar (if using sugar) into the bowl of a stand mixer with the BEATING attachment. Not the dough hook. Turn the mixer on at a medium speed and slowly add the water. Beat for at least 10 – 12 minutes or until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball in the center of the bowl. Continue as from point 5 in the recipe instructions, see below.
Why is the water measured in grams and not milliliters? I have zillions of measuring cups and jugs… and not one of them is correct. Therefore I believe in weighing the water rather than to hope it is the right amount. Electronic scales are really not that expensive and I would recommend using one instead of measuring cups.
What should the water temperature be? Personally, with this recipe and the use of instant yeast, I prefer to use room temperature water. The biggest reason why I prefer room temperature water is that it takes longer to proof. With a longer proof, the gluten gets more time to develop and you will have more air holes in the final dough.
Any other tips for working with such a wet dough? There are always tips. Coat the knife or bench scraper with olive oil when cutting the dough. That will help that the dough does not stick to the knife.