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I just realized that I added about 4 cups of water to 4 cups of flour for my ciabatta dough. It only calls for 2 cups, but I added 4 for some reason. It’s been rising for a bit over 4 hours and there are a lot of bubbles, which I’m happy about, but it’s very runny. It was a bit sticky when I mixed it but it can pour like a thick soup. How do I fix it? Will it ruin the air bubbles if I add more flour?

  • If i were in your situation I would treat the dough as a preferment of sorts and use it to make double the amount of the ciabatta. – NRaf Aug 20 '15 at 12:57
  • Pre measure the ingredients as seen on TV food shows. That speeds the processing time and reduces chances of error due to interruptions. – Optionparty Aug 20 '15 at 14:24
  • Now you have a possible batter for crumpets. – JasonTrue Aug 20 '15 at 19:01
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Your recipe should call for the dough to be folded a few times during proving. Do this on a thick bed of flour, and sprinkle more flour on top as you fold, and you'll find it will come together more and more with each fold. Remember, when it comes to bread, the wetter the better!

  • "Remember, when it comes to bread, the wetter the better!" -ElendilTheTall. An instant classic. – Captain Giraffe Aug 20 '15 at 20:34
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    It's an old adage, I can't lay claim to it. I have found it applies to many things in life :) – ElendilTheTall Aug 20 '15 at 20:57
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Perhaps some baker's math is in order to understand what's happening here and what direction your fix should be aiming at:

Original recipe:

4c flour -> 500g
2c water -> 480g

This means your recipe has a hydration1 of 96%, which is really high, even for ciabatta. It's doable, though, as for example this post cofirms. (Typical values for ciabatta are somewhere in the 75% range.)

Your current dough has:

4c flour -> 500g
4c water -> 960g

Resulting in a hydration of 192%. Or, as you noticed, yeasty soup.

Having checked this math, you have to get the flour level up to at least the original value, that means somehow incorporating another two cups of flour. But then your other ingredients will be off, too, especially salt, so add again the amount of the original recipe, basically doubling it (as demanded by the flour as base for the calculation). Same goes for all other ingredients except yeast.

Yeast on the other hand is a totally different subject. In the last four hours, the yeast has been active and growing. Adding again the original amount would likely be an overkill. Depending on your general bread baking philosophy and recipe, add either a fraction of the original amount or simply wait until the existing yeast has done it's job. (That's what I'd do...)

With the relatively large amount of flour plus the salt I'm not sure whether incorporating it during the stretch and fold would be possible. (For smaller amounts, heed ElendilTheTall's advice). I'd consider sacrifying some bubbles and stir or mix gently.


1 also called Baker's percentage, i.e. the ratio of water or other ingredients in relation to flour weight.

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