How to bake the perfect ciabatta – comparing four great ciabatta recipes

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Over the past couple of weeks has seen the global HQ of Virtuous Bread test four great ciabatta recipes to select the perfect one.  How to bake the perfect ciabatta?  You know how!  Just look at the winner of the great ciabatta bake off, the recipe for the perfect ciabatta.

As ever, what is interesting is the variety.  There is no one way to do anything:  put together a biga, put together a dough, bake bread – variety is the spice of life and recipes emerge as people customise and develop things to suit their environment.  The common elements of the ciabatta bake off included:

1.  The flour.  All the same brand.  Canadian hard wheat, organically grown, stone milled.
2.  The yeast.  Dry active yeast from the same company.
3.  The salt.  Sea salt.
4.  The water.  Mississauga’s finest, filtered.

Also common was the process and of course the oven.  Don’t underestimate the importance of the oven to change your results.

As you may know, from having followed the search for the perfect ciabatta, fourth place was XXX, third was XXX, second was XXX and first – appreciated for the crispy crust, chewy crumb with some acidity, and hole action was XXX.  Below please find the dough stats so you can see at a glance how different the recipes are.  So, there you have it!  The great ciabatta bake off, over (for now…)

Dough Stats (sorry for terrible formatting)

CF

PH

ACI

LPA

Biga as % of total flour

71%

89%

20%

37%

Biga hydration

79%

75%

100%

56%

Total dough hydration

75%

75%

76%

70%

yeast as % of flour

0.5%

1.8%

0.8%

0.9%