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!
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.
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 paddle attachment 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