Loaf of sourdough bread on blue and white cloth
The Distinctions Between Ciabatta And Sourdough Bread
Although both ciabatta and sourdough are both rustic, airy, crusty breads, these loaves are also quite different, from their flavor to their crumb to how they're used.
Sourdough is defined by a distinctly tangy flavor that's delicious in any dish. Ciabatta has a mild flavor but a more robust crust, so it pairs well with heavy or moist toppings.
While sourdough is an ancient recipe dating back millennia to the Middle East, ciabatta was only created in the 1980s in Italy as an alternative to French baguettes.
If you want to make either of these breads at home, know that ciabatta is best made using special equipment, while sourdough takes longer to make.
At 80% hydration, ciabatta dough is moist and sticky. It's quite difficult to handle, yet requires a lot of kneading, so you may want to invest in a stand mixer to knead it.
By contrast, sourdough takes longer to make because it relies on a bacterial starter, fed with water and flour and left to ferment. The starter provides the tangy flavor.
Because the starter is full of live yeast, sourdough must be delicately kneaded or folded for up to 20 minutes and left to rise for hours before baking.
Nutritionally, sourdough has more protein, fiber, calcium, and potassium and less sugar compared to ciabatta, and it’s easier to digest thanks to the lactic acid in the starter.