Memory Sponge Ciabatta

Are you a fan of pillowy ciabatta? I think I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t love ciabatta.

I love it but didn’t make it often in the past, because the original method I learnt involves preferment, making the whole process really time consuming. The sourdough recipe I’m sharing here uses a method I learnt form Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. It is so simple, and soooooo good! If what I used to make were soft yummy pillows, this recipe produces a super addictive “memory foam sponge” pillow! It’s a ciabatta that has a lot of “integrity”, and will bounce back happily after a squeeze.

I use:

  • 4 cups of high grade (bread) flour
  • 1/2 cup of sourdough starter
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1+1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey


  1. Mix everything together in a large bowl until the wet and sticky dough just comes together.
  2. Cover up and leave it until it grows to near triple it’s original size. It should look very  bubbly on the top. This can take anything between 6 hours at 25C to 20 hours at 4C. If you do the mixing at night and don’t want to risk over fermenting, just stick it into your fridge and bring it out the next day. I discovered an advantage of rising the dough at low temperature – it effectively makes the dough stiffer and easier to handle when it comes to shaping it.
  3. Once the dough has risen, preheat your oven as hot as it can get. 230C is good, and 250C is even better. Also preheat a baking stone if you have one.
  4. Flour your work bench well and scrape the dough out onto the bench. The dough will “flop” out as it is a pretty wet dough. Try not to degas the dough too much in the process.
  5. Dust your hands and the top of the dough lightly and gently press it into a rough rectangle. Don’t enlarge it too much from how it flopped. Be gentle and don’t degas the dough too much because it will not go through any more rising before baking.
  6. Use a scrapper to scrape and fold the two end thirds of the dough into the centre, like folding a letter.
  7. Then depending on how big you want the final ciabatta, you may like to cut it into pieces with your scrapper.
  8. Ciabatta right out of my wood fired oven Big Bill.

    Flour your bread peel/paddle well if you have one. Gently get your fingers under the dough and stretch it slightly, then drop it onto your bread peel. If you don’t have a peel, you can use a sheet of baking paper, or drop it straight onto your preheated baking stone.

  9. Squirt the ciabatta with some water. Bake at 230C for 35 minutes, or 250C for 20-25 minutes. The actual time required depends on how big you made your ciabatta. You can check if it’s cooked by tapping the underside – if it sounds hollow and the crust is well set, you should be good. If in doubt, give it another 5-10 minutes – it won’t kill your bread. You may want to cover it with a piece of foil if it starts to brown too much to your liking.

If my description is not clear, my apologies… Check out Fig Jam and Lime Cordial’s picture tutorial.

* If you have a wood fired oven like my Big Bill, try NOT to cook your ciabatta at temperatures higher than 260C. Ciabatta is not meant to have a super crunchy hard crust. Wood fired oven has WAY better heat retention, so check on your ciabatta earlier than you would if using a domestic electric oven. Mine took only 15 minutes of cooking at ~250C (I cut the dough into two portions).


12 thoughts on “Memory Sponge Ciabatta

    • Thanks Celia 🙂 I think the fact it has no final proof gives it that super sponge quality. Also it’s so much easier to get it straight onto my clay oven hearth – else I’d have to proof on a baking sheet and it beats me how I might possibly send it into the oven without the baking sheet. So THANK YOU! 🙂

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