Whole Wheat-ish Ciabatta Bread
Recipe Type: bread, baking
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Total Time: 
Makes: 4, 10-inch loaves; or 32 small rolls
Best results will be achieved by using a kitchen scale to weigh out the exact amount of biga as it will expand at room temperature. If you do not have a kitchen scale and are measuring by volume (cups), measure the biga when it is chilled.
  • BIGA: 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 3/4 cup warm water, between 110° and 115° F
  • 125 g (about 1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 125 g (about 1 cup) bread flour
  • 200 g (about 1 1/2 cup) Atta or whole wheat pastry flour
  • DOUGH: 1 tsp yeast
  • 4 Tbsp + 1 1/4 cup warm water, between 110° and 115° F, divided
  • 175 g (about 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 200 g (about 1 2/3 cup) bread flour
  • 125 g (about 3/4 cup + 3 Tbsp) Atta or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 500 g (about 2 cups) biga, rested for at least 12 hours
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Fine cornmeal or coarse semolina, for sprinkling
  1. DAY 1: To make the biga, mix yeast and warm water in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer; set aside 10 minutes to proof.
  2. On a piece of wax paper, use a fork to briefly combine the three flours. Stir the flour mixture into the proofed yeast, about 1 cup at a time -- either by hand with a wooden spoon for 3 to 
4 minutes, or with a stand mixer using the paddle for 2 minutes at the lowest speed. This is now your biga. It should look sloppy and somewhat wet.
  3. Transfer the biga to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a cool room temperature spot for at least 12 hours, preferably 24, and up to 48 if you want a really sour loaf. The goal is for your biga to be triple its original volume, but still wet and sticky.
  4. DAY 2: At this point, the biga is now ready to use. (See HGN Notes for instructions on refrigeration or freezing to save it longer.)
  5. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix yeast and the 4 Tbsp warm water; set aside 10 minutes to proof. On a piece of wax paper, use a fork to briefly combine the three flours and the salt; set aside.
  6. To the yeast mixture add the remaining 1 1/4 cups warm water, the rested biga, and olive oil. Mix on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the flour-salt mixture all at once, and run on low for 2 to 3 minutes. Switch to the dough hook attachment, and run for 2 minutes on low, then 2 more minutes on medium. Back on the lowest speed, use the mixer to 'knead' the dough in the bowl until it's still sticky yet becoming "velvety, supple, springy," about 1 minute more. ONLY add flour -- either the AP or Atta/WW pastry -- by the tablespoon if the dough is quite wet. (Alternatively, knead the dough with wet hands on a well-floured surface.) Use a wet dough scraper to transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 1/4 hour. The dough should be bubbly, sticky and elastic.
  7. Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface and use a wet dough scraper or wet knife to cut it into 4 equal portions. Using wet hands, roll 1 portion into a cylinder, and then use your fingers to stretch and pull it into a rectangle about 10 inches x 4 inches. Repeat with the remaining 3 portions of dough. (Alternatively, further cut each of the 4 original portions into 6 to 8 smaller portions. Roll each of these into a ball with wet hands.)
  8. Generously flour 4 large pieces of parchment paper placed on upside-down baking trays or peels. Using wet hands, transfer each loaf (or group of 6 to 8 rolls), seam side up, to a piece of parchment. Dimple the loaves (or rolls) with your wet fingertips to discourage excess rising. Cover the loaves loosely with damp paper towels, and let rise at room temperature until puffy but not doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Don't be alarmed that the dough still looks flat -- they will rise a bit more in the oven.
  9. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425° F with a baking stone (or a very large cast iron skillet turned upside down) on the center rack.
  10. When the oven and stone are preheated and you're ready to bake, carefully dust the stone with fine cornmeal or coarse semolina. Quickly and carefully invert each loaf (or group of rolls) onto the dusted stone, gently working the paper free. (You can also leave the paper and remove it in 10 minutes, if needed -- as was the case with my rolls.) Close the oven door and bake for a total of 20 to 25 minutes (my loaves and rolls all took 25 minutes). If desired, use a spray bottle or your fingers to spritz the oven three times with water in the first 10 minutes of baking. Transfer the loaves (or rolls) to wire racks to cool completely before slicing or eating.
HGN Notes
If not using your biga right away, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 5 days, OR transfer to a tightly-sealing tupperware container or freezer-safe zipper top bag and freeze up to 1 month. When needed, let refrigerated biga rest at room temperature for 1 hour, OR frozen biga for about 3 hours, until it is bubbly and active again. Use a kitchen scale to portion out the amount needed for your recipe and proceed. (Again, if you don't have a scale and are measuring by volume, it is best to measure the biga chilled rather than at room temperature -- leave in the refrigerator if originally refrigerated, or thaw it overnight in the refrigerator if originally frozen.)
Recipe by HEATHER GOESCH NUTRITION at http://heathergnutrition.com/2016/05/whole-wheat-ish-ciabatta-bread/