Ciabatta a'lancienne


Ciabatta a'lancienne (to mix languages somewhat) based on Peter Reinhart's a l'ancienne recipe.

The Dough: 
Iced Water

Mix well and knead once (~30 secs) - put in fridge overnight

Then next morning fold hourly for 5 hours, divide, stretch a little and transfer by hand to pot. Bake in pot.

This dough is very sticky and hard to handle.
It was a little sluggish - after being in the fridge all night.
I folded the first few times on an oiled surface, then on a liberally floured surface. After folded the last time - into a rough rectangle, I simply cut that into four fat strips - tossed more flour over them, and put them on a heavily dusted tea towel (bunched up in between the pieces) to wait their turn to bake.
I used an oval casserole that had been in the oven since it was  turned on.
With floured hands I picked up the dough from either end (a little rough handling really doesn't matter with this dough), then dropped it (carefully) into the pot. Put lid on, and put pot back in the oven.
Baked for about 20 mins with lid on, and 10-15 mins with lid off in very hot oven


(originally from the Ciabatta Bake-Off)

13 users have voted.


Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2009 November 6

Hey Dom,

I have just been scrolling through the Food Art Challenge starting with TP's wonderous swans, and Pab has posted a beautiful picture of 'Couronne à l'Ancienne'.  Both breads look so great, but is a l'Ancienne a l'Ancienne?  I'd love to try and make a Couronne, even though it won't taste any different it sure looks FAB!  Would this dough stand up to being proofed in  a bannetton or too 'soft'?


Mr Ciabatta 2011 July 2

 Hi Dom, thanks for this recipes, as a novice bread maker I have a few questions if you don't mind:

  • did you let the dough rise after you divided it? Or straight into the pot?
  • what temperature did you bake at? (ahem, I just read your other blog post on using fan ovens, this answered my question)

Mine's nearly in the oven, can't wait to see how it turns out.


tina-m 2011 August 11

I have just made this bread using a starter from another source ( Tassajara Bread Book) thati already had made up and it is everything I have been wanting to bake for years but unitl I found this site didn't know how. I am thrilled as the crust was crisp and the insides chewy with large holes--really yummy.

Dumbledough 2014 April 20

I substituted in about a cup of whole wheat flour and shaped it with a banneton bowl for the last rise. It was magical!

As you can see from the photo, I forgot to slash it.

Great recipie with solid, fundamental techniques. So easy a muggle could do it.


beginnerbaker 2014 July 10

Hi there,

Just wondering how many loaves this makes? I'm a little confused when you say divide and stretch...could you explain this a little further?

Many thanks


farinam's picture
farinam 2014 July 10

Hello beginnerbaker,

It is hidden a bit but he does say that he divided the dough in four.

Good luck with your projects.


beginnerbaker 2014 July 10

Hi Farinam

Thanks for your response. The loaves would be quite small with the ingredient amounts listed? If this is the case, could I divide the ingredients by four to get one loaf?


farinam's picture
farinam 2014 July 10

Hello beginnerbaker,

You could make a quarter recipe if you wished but ciabatta are usually quite small, flattish loaves with a very open texture (large holes) and would only make a couple of sandwiches each.  A lot of the commercial ones are even smaller, not much more than a bread roll size and are used as such, one sandwich per loaf.

The recipe makes a kilogram (more or less) of dough so each loaf as described would be about 250g so I guess it depends on how much bread you use and what you want to use it for.

Let us know how you go.


beginnerbaker 2014 July 27

Hi Farinam

going to bake tomorrow, just wondering if the pot in the oven needs oil in it? We have a large family so a larger load is best. I'll try this as one larger one and see how it goes. Many thanks. 

farinam's picture
farinam 2014 August 4

Hello beginnerbaker,

I've been away and missed your question.  A bit late now, but you shouldn't really need oil.  At the sort of temperatures you are working at, it would burn off in any case and you would probably only end up with a smoke filled kitchen.

Let us know how it went.


beginnerbaker 2014 August 24

Hello Farinam

Since I last posted I have attempted this recipe another two times.  As I had posted previously I have been attempting the loaf as one whole loaf rather than the smaller sizes.

So far this has been my most successful attempt at sourdough in terms of the amount of openness or holes in the loaf.

However, I'm struggling with cooking the loaf right through. It always comes out doughy and underbaked, however the crust is burning.

The last time I made it I had the oven on at 220 degrees celcius and left the lid on the casserole for 35 mins (remembering the loaf was larger).

Should I be increasing the temp in the oven or leaving the lid on the casserole longer?

I'm having another go at this tomorrow!

Many thanks!

farinam's picture
farinam 2014 August 25

Hello beginnerbaker,

I don't think you need to extend the closed time so I would open the casserole after 10-12 minutes.

I assume that the casserole is pre-heated before you add your loaf?

A loaf of that size should bake satisfactorily in 40 minutes.  However 220C will give you a fairly dark crust (though not burned) and it might pay to reduce the oven temperature progressively through the bake after the lid comes off to end at about 180C.  This sort of simulates the falling oven that you would get with a woodfired oven after the coals have been raked out.

One other thing would be to obtain an oven thermometer and check your oven temperature as the controllers can sometimes be a bit out.  If all else fails, give it a bit longer to bake at the lower temperature.

Let us know how it goes.


janisem 2014 August 17

Hi Dom

Just put my dough in the fridge for tomorrow.  What sort of pot did you use please, I have a small loaf tin,  is it possible to just bake them on a stone or do they need support?  Thanks


farinam's picture
farinam 2014 August 17

Hello janisem,

Not sure if Dom hangs around here any more.  I would imagine any ovenproof casserole whether cast iron or ceramic would be fine.

I suspect that the container was merely to provide an enclosed, humid environment for the first part of the bake and not for support in any way as cibatta is quite a flat open textured loaf usually made at relatively high hydration and quite a slack dough.  They would bake just fine on a stone.

Good luck with your projects.


janisem 2014 August 17

Thanks Farinam......I'll put some ice/water in the oven and do them on the stone then, fingers crossed!


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