Italian Ciabatta Was Invented To Compete With The French Baguette (2024)

Janelle Alberts

·2 min read

It's difficult to picture the scene in which ciabatta bread was invented. Only a few decades ago, four-time rally racing champion Arnaldo Cavallari developed a new bread recipe that eventually became ciabatta. Cavallari labored over the proofing time and hydrationfor weeks,fueled by a singular bone of contention: He'd had it with his fellow Italians going gaga for the French baguette.

The son of miller parents, Cavallari was wrapping up an illustrious racing career in the early 1980s. He returned to his hometown of Adria in northern Italy, where his family owned a flour mill. By this time, the French baguette had long gained in popularity during its century-plus lifespan, winning over bread lovers with a simple yeast, flour, water, and salt recipe. In 1982, Cavallari enlisted two flour expert bakers to join him in developing a staple Italian loaf that would give the French baguette a run for its money.

His team knew the capabilities of what flour could handle in terms of hydration, which was imperative since Cavallari's ciabatta was going to push the limits of using a very wet dough. Cavallari used olive oil to keep the dough elastic enough to stretch without tearing while delivering a chewy, open-crumb loaf of bread that immediately caught on with local restaurants and bakeries. Everyone loved it. By 1985, ciabatta loaves were selling in Marks & Spencer, and within about a decade, Ciabatta Italiana was licensed and produced in 11 countries.


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What's The Difference Between Italian Ciabatta And The French Baguette

Italian Ciabatta Was Invented To Compete With The French Baguette (2)

The difference between the French baguette and Italian ciabatta starts with the simple ingredients each has at its core. Both use flour, water, yeast, and salt, but ciabatta uses a much higher hydration dough andolive oil to ensure elasticity. The breads look completely different in shape and are named after the appearance of their loaves. Baguette is French for "wand" or "baton," and ciabatta is Italian for "slipper."

"Ciabatta is not an elegant slipper, but the kind of old slipper you slouch around in," Italian cookbook author Jean Salvadore told The New York Times in 1992, around the time that ciabatta bread was making its New York debut. That underscores a major difference between the breads.

Ciabatta does present like a rustic, historic bread nonetheless, and its inventor planned it that way. "It reminds people of the older breads," Arnaldo Cavallari told The Guardian, describing his loaf as the "taste of an old-fashioned bread." The texture of ciabatta is chewy yet light and fluffy, with all its extra open-crumb air holes. By contrast, a French baguette, while airy, has small holes and a crisp crust.

Read the original article on Mashed.

Italian Ciabatta Was Invented To Compete With The French Baguette (2024)


Why was ciabatta invented? ›

Ciabatta is an Italian bread that was first produced back in 1982 by Arnaldo Cavallari. Cavallari was a miller and baker near Venice. During this time the French Baguettes were very popular and bakeries wanted to develop a product that would be able to compete with a baguette.

What is the difference between French baguette and ciabatta bread? ›

"It reminds people of the older breads," Arnaldo Cavallari told The Guardian, describing his loaf as the "taste of an old-fashioned bread." The texture of ciabatta is chewy yet light and fluffy, with all its extra open-crumb air holes. By contrast, a French baguette, while airy, has small holes and a crisp crust.

Why was the French baguette invented? ›

Some say Napoleon Bonaparte, in essence, created the French baguette to allow soldiers to more easily carry bread with them. Since the round shape of other breads took up a lot of space, Bonaparte requested they be made into the skinny stick shape with specific measurements to slide into the soldiers' uniform.

What is the Italian response to baguette? ›

Ciabatta (/tʃəˈbɑːtə, -ˈbæt-/, Italian: [tʃaˈbatta]; lit. 'slipper') is an Italian white bread created in 1982 by a baker in Adria, province of Rovigo, Veneto, in response to the popularity of French baguettes.

What is a fact about ciabatta? ›

Ciabatta is a rustic Italian bread that has a wonderful soft interior with a crisp, chewy crust. The flavour is buttery, toasty and nutty. The name derives from its appearance, as ciabatta in Italian means 'slipper', referring to its long, flat shape.

What is ciabatta mainly used for? ›

I've long loved ciabatta bread for its chewy exterior and soft crumb speckled with air holes. It's the perfect bread for dunking into soup, slicing horizontally and making a sandwich, converting to garlic bread, or for simply slathering with butter and eating until your heart's content.

Why is French baguette so popular? ›

French Baguettes are so good

First and foremost, the flour used in France is of very high quality. But the major difference between French and an American baguette is the fermentation process. Most French bakers use a poolish process, which consists of a mix of yeast and water that's allowed to ferment overnight.

Is French bread and baguette the same? ›

French bread is wider and longer than a baguette, with a much softer crust. It doesn't require any special equipment to make and it's just as versatile as a baguette, but its soft outside makes it perfect for toast or garlic bread.

What is the name of the Italian baguette? ›


Ciabatta is an Italian bread that is known for its distinctive shape and texture. It is a relatively new bread, created in the 1980s by Arnaldo Cavallari, a baker from Verona, Italy. The bread was inspired by French baguettes but with a more rustic, chewy texture and a thicker crust.

What is the difference between French and Italian bread? ›

French bread tends to be longer and narrower. Italian bread loaves tend to be shorter and plumper. French bread tends to be hard and crusty on the outside, with a light and soft crumb. Italian bread can also have a hard crust, but the crumb tends to be denser.

What is the Italian version of a French baguette? ›

Stirato is a rustic, Italian-style baguette whose name means 'stretched'. Made with just bread flour, salt, fast-acting yeast and water, it has a crispy crust and open crumb.

What is the baguette rule? ›

The French bread law

The law states that traditional baguettes have to be made on the premises they're sold and can only be made with four ingredients: wheat flour, water, salt and yeast.

What is the science behind ciabatta bread? ›

The theory goes that this rustic bread was the result of accidentally adding too much water to a dough and then continuing the baking process anyway. The final result was a flat and long baked good with an open crumb cell structure, named ciabatta.

Is ciabatta bread healthier than white bread? ›

Is ciabatta healthier than bread? A. Ciabatta bread is relatively high in carbohydrates than other bread forms. However, it has adequate fibre, sugar, protein, and essential vitamins for a healthy diet.

How is ciabatta different from other breads? ›

Ciabatta bread is characterised by its crusty finish, and big holes inside the dough, which is often achieved by a long, slow rise, and high hydration.

How was twisted bread invented? ›

It was thought that in some ancient societies if a married man died, it was the duty of his wife to follow him to the grave and be buried at his side. Later, the actual wife was replaced with a braid of her hair, which eventually became a loaf of braided bread.

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