Eric Kayser’s Ciabatta au Levain Liquide

Eric Kayser's Ciabatta au Levain Liquide

No, I didn’t confuse my (non-existent) French and Italian. This formula for Italian ciabatta uses French terminology because it’s from Eric Kayser, well-renowned in Paris for his breads and pastries. In a city saturated with driven artisans dedicated to their craft, Maison Kayser still manages to consistently rank high among the best Parisian bakeries.

Even more impressive, for bread nerds like me at least, are his somewhat accessible bread formulas that share a common thread in liquid levain, wild yeast starter fed with equal weights water and flour. Used with commercial yeast to bring dough to life, the liquid starter also adds a very subtle acidity, a quality lacking in bread raised exclusively with commercial yeast.

After trying several ciabatta formulas, I can’t quite pinpoint why this method produces results better than the rest. All of the ciabatta formulas I tried had an airy interior but the most noticeable difference is the crust. It not so much crunches but shatters audibly as bitten, as opposed to the other formulas that yielded a slightly thicker and chewier crust.

recipe adapted from Eric Kayser
Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast Blog

Eric Kayser’s Ciabatta au Levain Liquide

makes 4 small ciabatta loaves

Eric Kayser's Ciabatta au Levain Liquide Crumb


  • I used Bernard Clayton’s suggestion for approximating French T65 flour by using 3 parts all-purpose flour and 1 part bread flour. I used King Arthur Flour.
  • Gentle handling is essential to get the characteristic irregular holes and open crumb of ciabatta.

For the Final Dough:

Ingredients                  Volume          Ounces          Grams
liquid levain (100% hydration)                    5.3          150
all-purpose flour                                13.25         375
bread flour                                       4.4          125
water, at room temperature      350 ml
instant yeast                   1/4 tsp
sea salt                          2 tsp            .5           14

Final Dough Instructions:

Mix             Mix all of the ingredients until evenly incorporated

Knead           10 to 12 minutes

Ferment #1      60 minutes at room temperature

Stretch and Fold

Ferment #2      60 minutes at room temperature

Eric Kayser's Ciabatta au Levain Liquide Dough

Divide          4 pieces

Eric Kayser's Ciabatta au Levain Liquide Divided

Rest            45 minutes at room temperature

Shape           Stretch gently into a rectangular shape

Eric Kayser's Ciabatta au Levain Liquide Proof
shaped ciabatta

Preheat Oven    500ºF/260ºC

Final Proof     45 minutes at room temperature

Steam           1 cup of boiling water poured in a heavy steam
                pan (preferably cast iron)

Bake            Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 500ºF/260ºC

Cool            At least 15 minutes

Eric Kayser's Ciabatta au Levain Liquide Crumb

My attempt at Eric Kayser’s Baguettes Monge

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53 Responses to “Eric Kayser’s Ciabatta au Levain Liquide”

  1. coco says:

    I love the breads you make! I especially have a liking for airy breads. I’m quite a novice when it comes to bread baking so I haven’t achieved anything quite as airy.

    last blog post: Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam

  2. dhanggit says:

    I swear Jude, you bake bread ten times better than the boulangeries in our neighborhood! Everything is beautiful!

  3. Rosa says:

    Your Ciabatta is perfect! Exactly the way it should be! I agree, your bread looks far better than at any baker’s…



    last blog post: GOODBYE SUMMER

  4. Tablebread says:

    Wow you really nailed this one! When I made my I got the shape right but the structure was definitely missing something.

    “Bread Nerd” that’s awesome. I could never tell my wife that one or I would hear my real name again :)

  5. Nils says:

    Awesome looking loaves. I think that is exactly how this bread should look like. Love the fact, that they’re not so white. Nils.

    last blog post: Out of town…

  6. Adam says:

    Yeah Jude, you are the best bread baker I’ve seen. The texture and holes you have in the ciabatta are perfect. You’re not a bread nerd… you’re a bread scientist :)

    last blog post: Bugs Bunny + Mac = ?

  7. Ulrike says:

    Nice holes ;-) , although I prefer other breads at the moment.

    last blog post: Kornies nach Bäcker Süpke

  8. Caitlin says:

    Umm… I think I have bread envy. And dangit, just another of your beautiful breads that I now *have* to make :)

    last blog post: Sourdough Croissants

  9. Aparna says:

    I don’t know why you think you are a nerd! I can see you are passionate about bread.
    That texture is marvellous, almost bread sculpture. Will I ever be able to bake anything close to this? Sigh………

  10. kat says:

    oh my that bread is just gorgeous!

  11. rainbowbrown says:

    Oy vey. I bet those suckers were tasty. I do, I do.

    last blog post: Owl and Cat say…

  12. Alexa says:

    That looks like perfect pain au levain. The chewy texture is so delightful. Thanks for sharing this gorgeous bread.

    last blog post: Mango Blueberry Kanten

  13. Natalie says:

    Ooh wow this look super delicious and I love your photos they are excellent!!

    last blog post: Phish Food Cupcakes

  14. Zoë François says:

    Fabulous bread! It is really stunning.

  15. noobcook says:

    It looks amazing!! Your step by step photos make it look easy but I know it’s not! ;p

  16. Peter says:

    That ciabatta is gold…GOLD I tell you!

    last blog post: Chianti Chicken

  17. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    I think I can only aspire to be a bread nerd! Jude this is totally gorgeous! and the scones are fabulous!!

  18. Hannah says:

    This looks delicious! Well done.
    Do you think it can be done without the extra commercial yeast? My husband can only have wild yeast and I have yet to make a good wild yeast starter let alone make a wild yeast bread.

    last blog post: Wagon rides…

  19. Natashya says:

    Your crust and crumb are perfect! The best I have ever seen – Including bakery bought. You are the master of bread.

    last blog post: Lithuanian Rhubarb Cake

  20. Manggy says:

    Argh, that looks more than perfect. Nice and hole-y! I think my instant yeast just died on me. But I could never maintain a levain, I’d be too suspicious of what’s growing on it :)

    last blog post: Dan’s Garlic Bread

  21. Miri says:

    Those big holes are amazing and the ciabatta looks just perfect!
    Is liquid levain the same as sourdough? Can you please refer me to some instructions of preparing it? Thanks a lot!

    last blog post: A good year begins with a great dessert

  22. Nicisme says:

    Oh that looks just about perfect! My son was just asking when I was going to make some ciabatta again, but I don’t think it will come out anything like this beauty!

    last blog post: Balsamic Tomato Bruschetta with Grilled Blue Cheese

  23. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    That’s a new shaping method to me (I usually stretch the dough before dividing it) — looks like it worked beautifully!

    last blog post: The Good News

  24. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    I have a special love for the hole-y interior of the ciabatta. These are beautiful.

    last blog post: Grilled Tilapia with Lime Salt and Mango Salad

  25. Hannah says:

    The wide open structure of this bread just blows my mind; I’ve never seen anything like it, but I’d kill for a taste!

  26. Cynthia says:

    I thank you sincerely for this.

    last blog post: Too much Liming

  27. sweetbird says:

    That’s the sexiest bread I’ve ever seen.

  28. Vera says:

    Jude, the bread looks fantastic! I’ve just made biga planning to bake ciabatta tomorrow :) But I’ll definitely try this recipe as well. It looks sooo good!

  29. Jaime says:

    wow look at that crumb!! amazing!

    last blog post: Baked Brie with Homemade Crackers

  30. Trisha says:

    That is some beautiful ciabatta! Impressive. I’m trying to become a bread nerd, too. I’m reading Peter Reinhart’s whole grain bread book, and, coincidentally, am learning all about the wild yeast starter + commercial yeast magic.

    last blog post: Weeds

  31. Olga says:

    Wow, what an undertaking! The pictures look beautiful, and I’m sure the bread tasted great. I also like the bright pink background.

    Thanks for visiting my blog :)

  32. Rachel says:

    Wow. Your bread is always so gorgeous! I think you should start hiring yourself out for hands-on bread-making lessons. :)

    last blog post: The Morning-Time Dilemma

  33. Thanks guys… Bread nerd has a nice ring to it I think.

    Hannah – Without the extra commercial yeast you’ll need to increase the fermentation and final proof times. I’m going to guess an extra 2-3 hours spread out evenly but I can’t be sure.

    Miri – Liquid levain is a sourdough starter. Some good resources for making sourdough starters are and

  34. Elizabeth - Cake or Death? says:

    Your ciabatta is gorgeous! The texture looks absolutely perfect. I’m totally craving some with oil and vinegar right now.

    last blog post: Black and White Angel Food Cupcakes

  35. YeastSpotting September 26, 2008 | Wild Yeast says:

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  36. Anna At Mediocre Chocolate says:

    Should the dough have doubled in volume after the second fermentation? I have it rising now, but I omitted the yeast and am just using a starter, so my timing will be off. Any tips are appreciated–the bread looks amazing.

  37. Shifali says:

    Hi Eric,

    Your bread looks so amazing….I love Cibatta bread and your bread looks great.

  38. Miri says:

    Jude, I made these yesterday. These were the third product I’ve made with my (relatively new) liquid levain, I’ve used 375 gr bread flour and 125 gr whole wheat flour, and they turned out so delicious that I couldn’t stop smiling all day long! Thanks for a wonderful recipe that I will surely use over and over again!

  39. m2scq says:

    i don’t normally post comments but i’d take an exception in this case. your bread looks fantastic! i’ll definitely give it a try.

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  49. Lucia says:

    very very nice bread! I’m making it right now… Since the dough was very sticky after the first rising stage I made 3 foldings waiting 20 minutes after each one. Now I don’t know if I have to let it rise another hour after the foldings… I think I’ll wait another half an hour then I’ll cut it.
    Hope it turns out half beautiful than yours, which looks perfect!
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