Sunday 25 December 2016


Another Christmas day project, this time a bread I've never done before, and one that takes a long, long time! This recipe uses a "sponge", something I've never done before. The recipe comes from Paul Hollywoods book Bread. I made the sponge in the morning, and baked it in the afternoon after I'd been cycling, though it would have made more sense to make it overnight.

Ironically, the hardest challenge was finding a plastic container ~20cm x 20cm for the prove. I vaguely remember watching this on GBBO (I think it was set as a technical, though I'm guessing without the sponge stage), and I distinctly remembered the dough was very hard to handle. I ended up using a storage container that was a little long, but otherwise OK.

I also made a minor mistake thinking the dough was too dry, and adding another 30-40ml of water during the second mix. The end result was the dough was very, very soft...virtually un-handleable. I managed to get the 2 loaves on the baking tray by turning the proved dough out onto one prepared tray (covered on flour and semolina), cutting it in half, and then quickly flipping them both onto a second prepared was a bit messy, but a good save!

Ciabatta - Recipe


  • 400g strong white bread flour
  • 8g fast action yeast
  • 300ml cool water (I added another 30-40ml, but this was not required)
  • 10g olive oil
  • 8g salt
Note - you'll also need plenty of flour and semolina for dusting

1) Place 200g of the flour, 150g of the water, and 4g of the yeast in a bowl and mix together

2) Cover with cling-film, and leave in room temperature in the dark for 5-6 hours (I just covered mine with a tea towel and left it to one side in the kitchen.

3) After 5-6 hours, take the sponge and scrape it into a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.

4) add the remaining flour, salt, yeast, water and oil

5) Mix for 10-15 minutes until you have a very soft, stretchy dough

6) Generously oil a square plastic container (something roughly 20cm square, and quite deep)

7) Scrape the dough into the container, and leave to prove for an hour. You should find it rises fairly quickly!

8) Liberally cover a surface with flour and semolina. Do the same to a baking tray.

9) Tip the dough out of the container onto the surface. You want it to come out as a square/rectangle

10) Cut the dough in half, using a floured knife (I also found it helpful to pour flour into the cut)

11) Transfer the 2 loaves to the baking tray (carefully!), stretching slightly to form elongated rectangular loaves

12) Sprinkle flour and semolina on top of the loaves as well

13) cover and leave to ride for ~15 minutes

14) Pre-heat the oven to 220'C

15) bake the loaves in the oven for 30 minutes

16) Remove to a wire rack to cool. You can also probably brush off any excess flour/semolina.