How to Make a 100% Biga Ciabatta, Handmade Italian Bread

100% Biga Ciabatta

Those words alone make me curious. This slow fermented ciabatta is packed with flavour. Normally when we make bread, we preferment part of the total flour. This on the other hand is fully made of preferment giving it an extra flavour punch. I came up with this when I was making a 100% biga pizza for which you can find a recipe here. And come to think of it many breads can be made this way. I will surely add some more to the 100% preferment recipe list in the future.

That is the beauty of bread making – there is always something interesting to discover. A lot of methods can be adapted to be used in different recipes.

I hope that it’s the reason you are here. We don’t concentrate only on recipes, but we try and understand the principles behind them.

The method for this recipe is super simple. Make the biga, proof it for up to 24 hours, add some water, yeast, salt & olive oil. Knead it to bring it all together. From there it’s just a regular ciabatta.

This recipe makes 4 large ciabattas. To make more simply multiply the amount of ingredients.

Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.


For the biga –

290g (10.2oz) strong white bread flour

10g (0.35oz) wholemeal flour

Tiny pinch of yeast

150g (5.3oz) water at around 14C (57F) if your kitchen is around 22C (72F). *You don’t want the biga to be too warm as it may over ferment. If your kitchen is warm, then place the biga in a cooler spot or cut down the fermentation time.

To learn more about dough temperature control click here.


For the main dough –

40g (1.4oz) cold water

1g (0.03oz) instant dry yeast or 3g (0.1oz) fresh yeast or 1.2g (0.04oz) active dry yeast

6g (0.2oz) salt

20g (0.7oz) olive oil


  1. Make the biga. In a bowl combine the water and yeast. Mix to disperse. Add the flours and mix to a dough. Knead the dough until there is no more dry flour left. This is a slightly dry biga at just 50% hydration. Cover it and ferment for 18 – 24 hours.
  2. Add the remaining yeast to the remaining water and let it hydrate for a minute. Add the yeast water to the biga. Pour in the olive oil and sprinkle over the salt.
  3. With a wet hand work the ingredients together. Squeeze the dough until everything is well combined.
  4. Tip the dough out on your table and knead it using the stretch & fold method for around 8 minutes. *Desired dough temperature 24-25C (75-77F). If your dough is warmer, then it will ferment more rapidly. If it is cooler, then it will take longer. Adjust proofing time accordingly. If your dough is too cool after kneading, then simply knead it for longer until it comes up to the correct temperature.
  5. Cover and proof 1 hour.
  6. Fold .
  7. Proof for 1 hour.
  8. Fold.
  9. Proof for 1 hour.
  10. Flatten the dough out on a well-floured surface. Using your dough scraper divide it into 4 equal pieces. Place the ciabattas on a floured ‘couche’ or use parchment paper like I did.
  11. Final proof 1.5 – 2 hours. During this time preheat your oven to 240C (465F) fan off. Preheat your baking vessel during this time too, if you are using one. *If your dough or kitchen are warmer it may be fully fermented in as little as 45 – 60 minutes.
  12. Bake the ciabattas for 15 – 17 minutes until puffed up and golden brown all over.


Let them cool down a little before tucking in! Enjoy.


Keep in mind that the conditions in each kitchen are different, so fermentation times may vary for you. It is up to the baker to control the bread and react accordingly.

Watch the video here

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