Here’s a fun fact for you: ciabatta literally means “slipper” in Italian. Doesn’t exactly conjure up images of gorgeous bread or a glass of wine at a quaint restaurant by the Mediterranean, right? These absolutely delicious breads haven’t been fortunate with their shape. But then again, the love that goes into making them and the beautiful, airy result totally makes up for it. If you want to bake them the traditional way, it’s a two-day, sourdough process. Trust me, though: It’s worth it. And it turns out that making both the biga (that’s the starter) and the ciabattas themselves with spelt flour is no problem at all.
¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast
60 grams or 2.1 oz. of lukewarm water
200 grams or 7 oz. of water (room temperature)
130 grams or 4.6 oz. of wheat flour
200 grams or 7 oz. of spelt flour
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
75 grams or 2.6 oz. of lukewarm milk
15 grams or 0.5 oz. of olive oil
285 grams or 10 oz. of water
500 grams or 1.1 lb. of biga
15 grams or 0.5 oz. of salt
400 grams or 14 oz. of spelt flour
100 grams or 3.5 oz. of wheat flour
In the oven: 220° Celsius/425° Fahrenheit/Gas 7
The biga should ideally sit at cool room temperature for 24 hours.
Stir the yeast and 60 grams of water together in a bowl and leave them for approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the rest of the water and the wheat and spelt flour. I mixed this by hand for a couple of minutes. Now, grease a bowl that’s big enough for the biga to expand threefold with olive oil. Transfer the dough into it and cover with plastic.
In order to get an even and fluffy dough, I strongly recommend using a kitchen machine for the bread base.
Mix the yeast and milk together in your mixing bowl and leave for about 10 minutes. Add the biga, olive oil and water and run the kitchen machine with your paddle attachment until everything is properly mixed.
Stir the salt into the wheat flour and spelt flour and add it to the liquid ingredients. Still using your paddle attachment, mix at low speed for 2-3 minutes.
Now, change to the dough hook on your kitchen machine, and run it first for 2 minutes on low speed, and then for 2 minutes on medium speed. If you don’t have a dough hook, just continue using the paddle attachment for 4 minutes in total. The dough will be super sticky, but it’s supposed to be 🙂
Transfer it to a lightly floured surface and knead it until it starts becoming easier to handle. Don’t work in too much flour, though – you want the dough as sticky as possible.
Place the ciabatta dough into a bowl greased with olive oil and cover it with plastic. The dough needs to double in size, which will take anywhere from 1 to 1 ½ hours at room temperature.
Now, line two baking sheets with baking paper and sprinkle them generously with flour.
Get the risen dough out of the bowl and onto a well-floured surface. Split it into four and stretch and fold it into a rectangular shape. This is where you’ll start to see why ciabatta is called slipper in Italian – it doesn’t look too impressive, right? Don’t worry, they’ll rise.
Place two breads on each baking sheet and poke little holes in them with your fingers. Now, dampen two towels and place one over each baking sheet. The ciabatta now needs to rise for another 1 ½ to 2 hours. You want them fluffy, but not doubled in size.
≈ Preheat your oven to 220° Celsius/425° Fahrenheit/Gas 7 now ≈
Place the first ciabatta batch into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. The breads are done when they sound hollow at a little knock.
Add the second batch to the oven and place the finished breads on a baking grill. Ciabatta comes highly recommended with some olive oil and sea salt. Buon appetito!