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Pan de Cristal

Pan de Cristal

Pan De Cristal is a very popular type of bread, similar to ciabatta but with much higher hydration (about 100% hydration). Yes, it’s not a mistake. The amount of water in the dough is the same as the amount of flour. This can be achieved with the proper dough handling skills and a good, strong flour. Strong flour can hold way more water than you think.

This bread actually tastes much better the following day, which means it doesn’t get stale, because of its hydration.

Ready in: 4-5 hoursServes: 4-6 people
Yield:  2 x 300g pan de cristal loavesUnits: US, E


Biga (Preferment)

Main Dough


Night before

Biga Preparation Step

  • 5 pm in container add yeast to water, add flour, whisk all together, form as uneven ball, cover the lid, let the biga ferment at room temp till next morning.

Next morning

Dough preparation steps

  • 9 am By this time biga has to double or more in volume and have a loose structure.
  • Mix water, all biga, dry instant yeast, salt and all flour. Mix on low speed of your mixing machine for 2-3 minutes, or KitchenAid on speed 3 for 5-6 minutes until well incorporated. Start adding extra water little by little. The process of adding extra water is called bassinage, it helps to tighten up gluten.

Note: don’t rush, let the dough absorb all the water and wrap the dough hook, before adding next portion of water. Be patient. Total mixing during addition of water should take about 20 min. on medium high speed.

  • At the end of mixing, the dough has to come up together and become smooth.
  • Oil the container with olive oil, transfer the dough into the square or rectangular container, close the lid. 
  • Leave to rest for 30 minutes at 78-82F /26-28C.
  • 9:30 am wet your hands and perform 1st stretch and fold.
  • 10 am 2nd stretch and fold.
  • 10:30 am 3rd stretch and fold.
  • 11 am 4th stretch and fold and let the dough rest for 30-45 min.
  • By this time dough has to increase by 100% -150% in volume (double).
  • Note: if the volume of the dough didn’t reach 100% mark, let the dough ferment longer.

Preshaping and shaping steps

  • Generously sprinkle table and the dough with rice flour, turn container on the floured surface. 
  • Fold the dough in half (flourless parts one to each other).
  • Using the scraper divide the dough in 2 equal parts. Sprinkle more flour o top and all around breads.
  • Now transfer each shaped dough onto a proofing couche. Cover loaves with kitchen towel. Let them proof for 30min to 1 hour.
  • Perform poke test to check the readiness. Give the dough a gentle but assertive poke. If the dough springs back right away, let it rise for a few more minutes. If the dough springs back slowly, like it’s waking up from a long nap, and your poke leaves a small indentation, it’s ready to go.
  • During proofing time start to preheat oven 500F with baking stone inside and iron tray on the bottom rack for 1 hour.
  • When the oven is hot and pan de cristal loaves are proofed enough, flip them over on a parchment paper( bottom side should be on the top, and top part should be on the bottom.
  • Prepare 10 ice cubes.
  • Act fast, open the oven, transfer pan de cristal on to the baking stone, dump the ice cubes into the tray and put it on the bottom rack, close the oven door.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Lower the temperature to 475F, open the oven door, remove the tray with excess water. Bake for 15 more minutes.
  • Let your bread to cool down.

Enjoy 😉 

Recipe Name
Pan De Cristal 
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22 thoughts on “Pan de Cristal

  1. I’m gonna give this a try tomorrow! Thank you!

    1. Your email handle is quite possibly the greatest I’ve ever seen. 👓⚡️♾️

  2. Can I substitute with sourdough starter??

  3. Great recipe, we have this type of bread in Portugal and it’s referred as “water bread” because of the high water percentage. I do have a question: I have a steam oven (a Wolf), I’m assuming I can just use the steam bread option? Thanks

  4. You are always amazing with your great recipes and they make me feel like cooking, thank you🙏

    1. This is the first time I’m trying your bread recipe. Seems like your starter or biga is to dry. we’ll see you tomorrow morning.

  5. Did you bake on the parchment paper.

  6. Curious why the rice flour?

    1. Doesn’t burn as easily.

  7. I have a math question:
    The first stretch and fold should be started at 10am.
    If at 9am we start making the dough and after a few minutes we start the 20 minutes bassiniage process then at 9:30 the dough will be ready to rest for half an hour. As a result the first stretch and fold can’t start earlier than 10am.
    Did I understand the process correctly or I’m missing something?

  8. Thanks again for this great recipe. I had tried before and it was a total failure. This time it’s a success. They are fresh out of the oven and it’s wow!

  9. I wish there was a way to print this .

    1. Right click anywhere on the webpage and when the context menu pops up, click ‘Print’. You’ll get a printout of the entire webpage.

  10. Can I use wet sourdough starter ??

  11. how can I measure 0.2 grams of yeast?

  12. I don’t use instant yeast, can I do this with active dry?

  13. What kind of flour do you use? I just tried this with King Arthur Sir Lancelot and it was a foamy liquid mess that never came together.

    1. It has to be a high protein flour which bread flour is known to be. Shouldn’t be using typical all-purpose flour for this. I use King Arthur Bread Flour which has 12.7% protein. There are other brands that have high protein counts as well.

  14. This is my kryptonite. I’ve followed this and other recipes to the letter and always end up with pancake batter. No clue where I’m going wrong and more “kneading”—really it’s just stirring at this point lol—doesn’t seem to work. Maybe the flour isn’t fresh enough? I give up.

    1. same problem here!

  15. the result was a very very liquid dough despite all folds, impossible to handle and it never fully baked (stayed in the oven for 40 minutes and still the blade is coming out dirty)
    must be a problem with the water quantity

  16. Same for me: pancakes dough as a result

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