This simple Ciabatta Bread recipe will give you a rustic Italian loaf that is perfect for dipping into soups or sauces. The high hydration in this bread results in a wonderfully chewy center and tons of irregular holes.
Homemade ciabatta bread
This is probably the easiest ciabatta bread recipe you’ll come across. It is an 80% hydration bread which means it’s very wet and sticky.
Because of this, you’ll need a stand mixer to make the dough. Otherwise, it will be near impossible to mix the dough.
The mixer will do all the mixing and kneading for you. This is why I say it’s the easiest recipe.
Ciabatta means slipper in Italian. Can you see how the bread get its name? It’s shaped just like a slipper!
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Are there eggs in ciabatta bread?
There are no eggs in ciabatta bread. It’s made with flour, water, yeast, and salt.
What do you use ciabatta bread for?
You slice ciabatta bread at an angle and drizzle it with olive oil. It can also be used for dipping in soup or soaking up a sauce.
Or you can slice it lengthwise and make an Italian Style sandwich. Whichever way you decide to enjoy this bread, I’m sure you’ll be impressed with the texture and flavor.
How do you heat up ciabatta bread?
You can heat ciabatta bread by wrapping it in aluminum foil and baking in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes.
Main ingredients for ciabatta bread
Bread flour – this is essential for the sturdy texture of this bread.
Yeast – you can use instant or active dry yeast. Either one will work. Just be sure to use a quality brand like Red Star®.
Water – there’s a lot of water in this bread and it’s the only liquid the recipe calls for.
Salt – salt boosts the flavor of ciabatta bread but it also slows down the fermentation and enzyme activity in the dough. It helps to strengthen and support volume as well.
The printable recipe card with full ingredient amounts and instructions can be found at the bottom of this post.
How to make ciabatta bread?
Step 1: Make the sponge
Combine flour, yeast, and water in a large bowl. Stir it with a wooden spoon until it’s well mixed and free of lumps.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours but up to 24 hours. The longer you let the sponge sit, the more flavor and structure the final bread will have.
Step 2: Make the dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sponge with more flour, water, and salt. Mix it with the paddle attachment until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
Step 3: Rise and turn the dough
Transfer the dough to a large bowl greased with olive oil. Cover and let it rise for 45 minutes. Lightly grease a silicone scraper and use it to fold the dough over onto itself.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for another 45 minutes. Repeat this process once more and let the dough rise for a final 45 minutes.
Step 4: Shape the dough
Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and liberally flour the top of the dough. Use two well-floured bench scrapers and carefully manipulate the dough from the sides to form a square.
Don’t add any pressure to the top of the dough or it will deflate. Cut the square in half and use the bench scrapers to gently shape each half into a loaf.
Step 5: Let rise and bake
Gently slide the bench scrapers under the dough and transfer each loaf to a well-floured cloth. Fold the cloth up on the sides of the dough to separate and support each loaf. Let the loaves rise for 20 minutes.
Invert a baking sheet on to the lowest rack in the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Place parchment paper onto a pizza peel or another inverted baking sheet.
Slide your fingers under each end of the loaf and quickly transfer it to the parchment paper. Spray the loaf lightly with water.
Carefully slide the parchment with the loaf onto the heated baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 22-27 minutes.
I don’t have a mixer. Can I use a food processor? Or can I mix by hand?
A stand mixer is recommended for this recipe! This dough is high hydration, meaning it is very sticky. A stand mixer with dough hook is the best and easiest way to mix it.
You can try mixing it with a wooden spoon and kneading it by hand but be mindful that adding more flour during kneading will affect how the bread turns out.
I don’t recommend using a food processor for mixing. This method only works if the dough is under 75% hydration. Here’s a great article from Cooks Illustrated that explains how to knead bread in a food processor.
Tips for this easy ciabatta bread recipe
- Plan ahead since the sponge needs to be made a day in advance.
- The dough for this bread is very wet and sticky. It requires a lot of external flour to prevent it from sticking. If you use too much flour on the outside, you can easily brush it off before spritzing the loaf with water and baking. Just use a pastry brush to do this.
- The dough will puff up and resemble a giant marshmallow. Be very delicate when shaping it so you don’t knock out all the air. The air is what gives the bread those gorgeous irregular holes.
More yeast bread recipes you’ll love
- Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
- Chocolate Swirl Bread with Cherries
- Rosemary Cheese Bread (Dutch Oven)
- Rosemary Olive Beer Bread
Some quick bread recipes you might like
- Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Caraway Seeds
- Best Ever Banana Bread
- Cheddar Jalapeno Buttermilk Bread
Homemade Ciabatta Bread
Make the sponge
- In a medium-sized bowl combine 1 and 1/2 cups (200g) of the flour, 1 cup (240ml) of the water, and yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well mixed and free of lumps.
- Cover the bowl will plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, at least 12 hours but up to 24 hours. This will add a lot of structure and flavor to the finished bread.
Make the bread
- Remove the sponge from the refrigerator and add the remaining water. Gently run a rubber spatula around the outer edge to release the sponge from the bowl. The water you just added will make this easier.
- Transfer the sponge mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the remaining flour and salt.
- Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Turn the speed up one notch and beat for another minute. Then turn the speed up one more notch and beat until the dough starts to release from the sides of the bowl, about 4 minutes.
- Drizzle the olive oil in a large bowl and rub it around to evenly coat the inside of the bowl. With wet hands, transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
- Using a well-greased scraper, gently fold the dough over onto itself. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes. Repeat this step once more and let the dough rise for a final 45 minutes.
- Liberally flour your work surface with flour and let the dough slide out of the bowl onto the counter. Be very gently here so you don’t knock all the air out of the dough and try to handle the dough as little as possible.
- Liberally dust the top of the dough with flour. Using 2 well-floured bench scrapers, carefully manipulate the dough from the sides to form a square. Take care not to put pressure on top of the dough.
- Cut the dough in half, down the middle of the square. Gently shape each half into 2 loaves by using the bench scrapers to manipulate the sides.
- Lay a lint-free baking towel over a large baking sheet and liberally dust it with flour. Using both bench scrapers, slide them under both ends of the dough and transfer the dough to the prepared cloth. Fold the cloth up in the middle to separate and support the loaf. Repeat with the remaining loaf.
- Cover the dough with another lint-free cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack to the lowest position. Place a large inverted baking sheet on the rack and preheat the oven to 450F.
- Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to about 12×6-inches. Place the parchment paper on a pizza peel or inverted rimmed baking sheet.
- Using the cloth, gently roll the first dough loaf over to loosen it. Carefully slide your fingers under each end of the dough and transfer it to the prepared parchment paper. Repeat with the second loaf.
- Dust off any excess flour and spray the loaves lightly with water
- Carefully slide the parchment with loaves on the heated baking sheet in the oven using a jerking motion.
- Bake, spraying the loaves with water twice more during the first 5 minutes of baking time, until the crust is a deep golden brown, about 22-27 minutes. The internal temperature of the bread should be 205-210°F.
- Transfer to an oven rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.
- Instant yeast is highly recommended for this recipe because it’s effective and reliable. If you must use active dry yeast, you’ll need to activate it in warm water before using. Take 1/4 cup of the water needed for the sponge and warm it to 110°F, stir in 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes, until it’s foamy, then add it to the flour. If the yeast doesn’t foam, it is not good and you’ll need to start over.
- A stand mixer is recommended for this recipe! This dough is high hydration, meaning it is very sticky. A stand mixer with dough hook is the best and easiest way to mix it. You can try mixing it with a wooden spoon and kneading it by hand but be mindful that adding more flour during kneading will affect how the bread turns out.