Spanish-style Ciabattas

Welcome to another step-by-step recipe from BreadClub20. Why not drop by our main Facebook page by clicking here.... If you like what you see and enjoy the recipe, we hope you go on to join us by 'Liking' and 'Subscribing'.

Back in 2004, baker Jordi Nomen, working at the Concept Pa bakery in Barcelona developed Pain de Cristal, also known as 'Glass bread' or 'Crystal bread'. 

The story goes that Jordi was fed up of hearing that bread crumb was fattening, so he decided to create a bread that was more air than crumb. 

To do this, he needed a fine and crispy crust that would hold together an almost non-existent crumb. He also needed to work at a very high hydration. Some recipes out there work at 106% hydration. 

Not today - for our Spanish-style Ciabattas, we're working at 90% which is high enough, believe me. 

We're going to make high-hydration ciabattas with translucent crusts and a wonderful open crumb. 

This is a bit of a taxing recipe be honest....every time I bake it, it's a matter of fingers crossed and a few prayers sent upstairs to the patron saint of bakers,  Saint Honoratus of Amiens. Which is something of a coincidence because today is May 16th 2021 and it's his Feast, was there ever a more auspicious moment.....? 

Committing this process to a blog posting is asking for trouble, I know. I'm setting myself up for a fall, but let's see how it goes. 

Where to start? Well, in true BreadClub20 tradition, I'm taking you through this step-by-step, stage-by-stage. 

Before we start...a few conditions. 

1. water is always at room temperature and filtered

2. flour is always high in protein. I'm using Marriages Strong Canadian at 13.5% protein

3. resting is always at room temperature. My kitchen is at about 19⁰C. 

4. refrigeration is set at 3⁰C goes nothing!

Stage 1 

Mix together (I'm using a Dutch Whisk) :

250 mls of filtered water at room temperature

280 gms of strong bread flour

1 teaspoon sea salt 

Add the flour and the salt into a bowl and slowly mix in the water, bit by bit. 

Continue mixing and kneading until everything is well brought together. 

Then add:

1 teaspoon instant yeast

and mix together until well incorporated. 

Now add

1 tablespoon olive oil

and, again, mix together very well. 

It's a very loose mix

Stage 2 

Pour the dough into a generously-oiled bulk fermentation dish (think lasagne-style). Scrape out every last morsel using a spatula. 

Cover the container with cling film and leave at room temperature for 60 minutes.

Stage 3

Mist your hands. 

Fold the dough into an 'envelope'. 

First fold one long side three quarters way over towards the other long side. 

Repeat with the other long side so that it becomes a parcel. 

Fold the short side three quarters way over towards the other short side. 

Repeat with the opposite short side so that it becomes a parcel. 

Cover with oiled cling film and leave at room temperature for 45 minutes. 

Repeat the envelope folding.

Spray some oil on the dough and cover it with the greased cling film. 

Place it in the fridge for at least 12 hours, or overnight. 

Stage 4

Take the dough out of the fridge and leave it for 15 minutes to come to room temperature. 

Preheat the oven to 250⁰C.

Flip the dough out onto a generously-floured baking sheet. 

Sprinkle more flour on top.

Using a cutter or a scraper, divide the dough into three loaves. Be not deflate the dough. 

Gently separate the loaves from each other so that they do not join up again. 

Add some ice cubes to a small metal dish and place low down in the oven. 

Mist the loaves and place on a low rack in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 250⁰C.

Then lower the heat to 200⁰C and continue to bake for 12 minutes until they are golden brown and hollow when tapped on the underside. 


Crumb is open but not open enough for all the time this took....But, they do taste rather good. 

Cool on a rack before slicing. 

Happy baking...

St Honoratus of Amiens (c.7th century) - the Patron Saint of Bakers


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