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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.
No-knead recipes are the best! I make baguettes, pizza dough, and slow cooker bread all the time because they require little effort. And now I’ll be making ciabatta bread just as often, if not more.
Ciabatta means slipper in Italian. Can you see how the bread gets its name? It’s shaped just like a slipper!
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 also slows down the fermentation and enzyme activity in the dough. It helps to strengthen and support volume as well.
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 let sit at room temperature for at least 15 hours but up to 20 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, salt, and yeast. Mix it with the dough hook until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
The dough will be very soft and batter-like. This is normal for ciabatta.
Step 3: Rise and turn the dough
Transfer the dough to a large bowl greased with olive oil. Cover and let it rise for 1 hour. Use wet hands or a greased silicone dough scraper to gently lift and fold the dough over onto itself. Flip the dough over so the top is now the bottom.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 45 minutes. Repeat the folding process twice more and let rest for another 45 minutes after each.
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.
Gently slide the bench scrapers under the dough and transfer each loaf to an inverted baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the loaves with a cloth and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Step 5: Bake
Invert a baking sheet onto the rack just below the center of the oven and heat to 450°F.
Spray the loaves lightly with water. Then, carefully slide the parchment with the loaves onto the heated baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
It’s important to bake with steam to create a crisp, golden crust. Do this by placing a cast iron on the lowest rack. When transferring the loaves to the oven, add 1 cup of ice to the cast iron. The ice will melt and steam during the first few minutes of baking.
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 in hydration, meaning it is very sticky. A stand mixer is the 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.
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
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This recipe has been updated with a few tweaks to ensure everyone has success. I’ve added additional yeast and there’s also less handling of the dough which prevents the air from being knocked out.
Adapted from On Baking and Bread Illustrated.
I totally bombed this recipe and it STILL worked. Here’s how. My dough was not sticky. But I followed the directions and made 1/2 recipe and baked it in my 3QT Bella Slow cooker. It took more than 1hr and 20 minutes to bake. I had to leave for class, so I unplugged the cooker. Two hrs later, I came home to get dinner and took the out of the cooker. Beautiful! Thanks for your recipe!
Use equal amounts of water and flour and it will work. Depends on how big a loaf you need. I first stirred 200 g flour and 200 ml water with the yeast, let it stand over night and added 100 g flour and 100 ml water, some yeast, and a teaspoon of salt, stirred thoroughly, and added sliced figs, apricots, and nuts, stirred with a spoon and filled the dough into a baking tin, let it rise five hours and baked at 190 centigrades 55 minutes.
Editing my previous post…
I misread the directions for the poolish and did 1/4 ounce instead of a 1/4 teaspoon. I’ll definitely make this again with my “mistake”. I also used active yeast vs instant yeast. Nice hard crust and soft, pillowy, and delicious on the inside.
Love this recipe! I was successful the first time I made it and every time since. I used Active Dry Yeast because I didn’t have Instant yeast and it works like a charm. I did finally get some instant yeast and that’s where I ran into trouble. I could not understand why my dough would not get any tension. That one came out more dense. The next time I made it, it looked consistent in mixing bowl. It was then that I realized I forgot the 1/2 tsp of salt. As so I added the salt and the dough lost almost all the tension. Much more runny consistency. So all I could determine was that salt with instant yeast was the issue. I don’t know why the reaction does not happen with active dry yeast. Would anyone have any suggestions as to why this is happening? I use King Arthur Bread Flour or Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour. Saf instant yeast. Red Star or Fleischmann’s Active dry.
There isn’t a difference between instant and active dry yeast other than the amount of time it takes to activate and rise. You can use them interchangeably. So they yeast shouldn’t be the issue here unless there are inconsistencies in the quality.
Thanks Jen! I appreciate the confirmation that I wasn’t missing some chemistry.
I made a bunch of loaves for Christmas again this year. It makes me very popular! 🙂 I tried Active for one set and instant for another and everything came out great. I think my previous error was mis-weighing the water as I had one bowl of dough acting too runny and the addition of more flour solved the problem. I will chalk it up to my production line method and not paying attention.
This is a great recipe. I’m taking it another step and starting with 200g of poolish on day 1 – then adding another 200g on day 2. On day 3 I’m completing the recipe and baking. Kind of like a mini sourdough starter. Flavor of my first batch was outstanding. For storing, I wrap my bread in a tea towel and put it in a large gallon zip lock baggie and keep it in the fridge. When I make a sandwich I cut it in half and warm it up in a toaster oven. Tastes just as fresh as the day I baked it. Thanks for sharing a great recipe!
Made this last night, and it was totally worth the 23 hours it took me haha. I wasn’t confident I was doing the folding and flipping part right, and yet, it still came out with tons of wonderful holes! The texture and flavor were perfect. My husband and I can’t stop eating it!
Instructions say to use the dough hook for mixing but video shows the paddle and then the dough hook.
Can you clarify pls.
The instructions tell you to start with the paddle attachment and then switch to the dough hook.
Do you have suggestions/instructions on making these into rolls? I imagine there would just be some small tweaks, but I’m not confident with these things…
I’ve never made this recipe into rolls so I don’t have advice or tips on shaping. But I imagine it would be fine to divide the dough and shape it into rolls instead of splitting it in half for two loaves. The bake time would also need to be adjusted but again, I’ve never made rolls so I can’t offer suggestions.
5 ***** +++++
Make this ciabatta regularly and even with only 2 of us it rarely lasts longer than 2 or 3 days. I use only a handheld electric mixer and that works fine
What do i need to do if the dough does not separate from the sides of the bowl for however long i knead it ? Your recipe says to knead untill dough separates from the sides of the bowl. I am using a 12% protein italian flour.
I’m not familiar with that type of flour. But as long as the dough looks well mixed and the flour is fully incorporated, you should be fine to move on to the next step.