Ciabatta, with mixed grains, soaked grain-berries & starter


By Cat, July 2010 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Ciabatta is an Italian rustic bread, with soft spongy interior and crispy crust, and with a slight sourdough flavor that comes from an overnight ferment. It was originally made in 1982 from white flour using commercial yeast. But I prefer to use whole grain flour and sourdough starter for leavening.

I have not yet tested this recipe, and I don’t know if I ever will because I can’t get some of the ingredients here, and am not sure how to interpret the recipe..

Ciabatta, with mixed grain flours, soaked grain-berries & starter

This European recipe is from Sourdough Companion (1), and uses soaked grain berries in addition to a mixture of whole grain flours (rye, wheat/spelt, oatmeal & corn). It includes ingredients unknown to me, including ‘starter, 100% hydration’ (is that a sourdough starter? or an active yeast-based sponge?) and diastatic malt. It also uses commercial yeast, and I would rather use sourdough. I have much to research before I can adapt.

It also calls for equipment that is unfamiliar to me: a cane banneton (see Bread-Making Equipment (bowls, pans, bannetons, etc.) for more about this) that holds the shaped dough during the final rise before baking. The dusting of flour, and the coils of the cane basket add a design to the loaf. Remove loaf from banneton just before baking (2).

May 2014 note: The Sourdough Companion recipe has been updated with English measurements (cups, teaspoons), which I have added for each ingredient, in parenthesis. However, I do not know if the conversion allowed for differences in density between the European and American versions of the flour, mixed grains, and starter.

Ingredients (original recipe)

  • 500 g flour* (4 cups)
  • 390 g water (about 1 ½ cups plus 3 Tbsp)
  • 10 g salt (2 tsp)
  • 200 g starter (100% hydration) (about 1 ½ cups plus 1 Tbsp)
  • 5 g diastatic malt 10** (1 tsp)
  • 50 g mixed grain berries (rye, wheat/spelt, oatmeal & corn ) (3 ½ Tbsp)
  • 2 g instant dried yeast (½ tsp)

‘* The original used 300 g white bakers flour (or unbleached white bread-flour), 100 g wholemeal flour (such as hard whole wheat, or a mix of grains), and 100 g ’00 Fine Italian Flour’ (not sure what this is, but likely ground farro), all totaling 500 g.

‘**”Diastatic malt 10″ is malt blended with bread flour at 1 g malt to 10 g flour. This is added to flour in recipe at 0.1% flour weight.” (50 g diastatic malt to 500 g flour in this recipe)

The method with the grain berries is as follows:

  1. Coarsely grind up a few wheat (or spelt) berries and rolled oats, using a grinder or mortar and pestle. Add to mixed whole grain berries (such as rye, wheat/spelt, oat and corn. Buckwheat groats could also be added).
  2. Cover 50 grams of this mixture with 190 g boiling water (¾ cup plus 1 tsp) in small bowl. let this rest 5 – 10 minutes while combining starter, proofed yeast (if using) and water.
  3. Add soaked mixture to starter mixture and mix.
  4. Add flours & malt, and mix for 2 minutes or so to form a wet dough. Cover and let rest 20 minutes. Add salt and knead by hand.
  5. Place in oiled bowl, cover with plastic bag to seal, and refrigerate overnight.
  6. In morning, remove dough from bowl, fold it once, return to fridge in the covered bowl.
  7. That evening, remove dough to oiled surface and stretch-and-fold a few times every hour for 4 – 5 hours. Dough should be fairly smooth and blistering when its ready for shaping. Text by slashing with knife and looking for the bubbles.
  8. Shape into loaf, place in banneton (see above), cover and proof another hour or so, then return to fridge for overnight.
  9. In morning, place baking stone in oven, preheat to 250°C (about 475°F) for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, remove bread to counter (covered) to warm up. When oven is hot, dust top of loaf with finely-ground oatmeal, slash along top, and transfer bread to stone.
  10. Add steam to the oven (see above recipe) and steam 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 210°C (about 400°F) and bake 30-35 minutes more. Remove to rack to cool


  1. Sourdough Companion recipe (
  2., about bannetons (

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