After trying different combinations of flour, Yoke has found that the combination of white spelt and white wheat, plus a small amount of kamut or semolina flour, makes the best ciabatta. This dough is sticky; knead it using a breadmaker or an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, or "stir" it by hand. Thankfully, it doesn’t need shaping. Just cut it into rectangles on a work surface dusted generously with flour. For accuracy, use a digital scale to weigh all the ingredients, including the water, which is why it’s expressed here as a weight.
- 360 g water, at room temperature
- 100 g ripe starter (see Note), at room temperature
- 250 g (1⅔ cups) organic white wheat, plus extra, to dust
- 250 g (1⅔ cups) organic white spelt flour
- 60 g (¼ cup) kamut or coarse semolina flour
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 5 hours 30 minutes
Place water, starter, the flours and 2 tsp salt, in this order, in a large, non-metallic bowl. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir until just combined. Cover with a damp tea towel and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Stir dough for 5 minutes or until elastic and stiff enough that it is almost impossible to continue stirring; don’t worry about over-stirring the dough. For the first rise, place the dough in an airtight container and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour in warm weather and 2 hours in cold weather.
Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and stretch dough lengthwise until three times its length, then fold halfway onto itself. Repeat stretching and folding until it becomes impossible to stretch the dough without breaking its surface; be careful not to overstretch the dough.
For the second rise, place the dough in an airtight container and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 4 hours or until almost 2½ times its original size; the dough will be full of air bubbles and will feel "squeaky" to the touch.
Place a a 36 cm pizza stone or granite tile on the bottom shelf of your oven and preheat it to your conventional oven’s highest setting (at least 250°C).
Dust your work surface generously with flour, then gently shape dough into a log. Dust the top of the dough with more flour.
Using a pastry scraper, cut dough into 8. Using scraper, carefully slide 4 pieces onto the hot pizza stone. Sprinkle with water, return pizza stone to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Sprinkle bread with a little more water (this ensures a good crust), then bake for a further 6 minutes or until light golden and bread is cooked through. To test whether it has cooked, tap base of bread; if it sounds hollow, it’s cooked through. Repeat with the remaining 4 pieces of dough.
Serve ciabatta warm or freeze in airtight containers for up to 2 months.
• If you don’t have a ripe starter, you can buy Yoke’s wild sourdough starter online from her website or, alternatively, buy sourdough starters from selected bakeries.
Photography by Jackson Eaton.