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Homemade Ciabatta Bread {Step by Step}

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Wonderfully chewy on the inside, crusty and golden brown on the outside and irresistible big holes, this homemade ciabatta bread is a perfect rustic bread to deep in soups, make bruschetta and sandwiches.

Divide it in smaller pieces and make ciabatta rolls for panini!

Ciabatta, pronounced [tʃaˈbatta] and in Italian means night slipper. If you’ve ever eaten ciabatta bread, you can sure guess it got its name due to its form: elongated, somewhat awkward and totally not perfect shape. I’ve even heard it called  Italian Slipper Bread in English-speaking world.

A little bit of curiosity

Ciabatta bread was invented not so long ago, in the Northern Italy, Verona in 1982, in response to the popularity of French baguettes.

It’s interesting that original ciabatta bread has become a registered trademark. Although in Italy it’s rarely called that way.

Since it was brought to the US in 1987 it became REALLY popular in here.

Without a doubt, ciabatta is THE perfect bread for Italian panini. You can easily roll the dough into individual ciabatta buns to make your favorite sandwich. By the way, have you tried pesto and mozzarella on a ciabatta roll?

So good!

No matter how good the store bought bread tastes, I’m a strong believer there is nothing that can closely compare to a fresh, fragrant homemade ciabatta bread.

And today, I’ll be laying all cards on the table for a traditional, nonna style artisan ciabatta bread.

We’ll be using biga, a starter for the dough, just the way bread has been always made.

Don’t be fooled by multi-step kneading process, it’s REALLY simple.

The dough requires probably 30-40 minutes total of attendance. The rest of the time is waiting and can be used for multitasking.

And I’m sure you are good at it 🙂

Note that we are not using milk, butter, even olive oil except for greasing!!!

Like all genius things, true ciabatta is SUPER simple and requires only few ingredients.

‘Nough said, let’s get down to the kitchen!

Ciabatta Bread Ingredients

And don’t forget to watch the video at the end of the recipe to see each step of ciabatta making process in detail.

Ingredients:

For biga (starter)

1 cup (230ml) water, lukewarm

2 cups (260g) flour (measured after sifting)

1 tsp dry yeast

For the dough:

2 cups (460ml) water, lukewarm

5-6 cups (650-750g) flour ( (measured after sifting and depending on the humidity of the place where you live)

1 ½ tsp salt

For greasing:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

Ciabatta Bread Recipe - Step1

Step 1: In a medium size bowl add water and dry yeast. Wait 10 minutes until the yeast is fully dissolved and has a “creamy’ texture.

Mix in the flour. You should get a very loose and sticky dough. It should have consistency thick enough not to come off from the spoon as, say, sour cream, but wet enough so that it’s impossible to knead it by hand.

Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the dough rest at a room temperature for 3-4 hrs or overnight. I don’t recommend leaving biga for more than 24 hrs as the yeast will start to over-mature, loose its power and of course we don’t want that.

Congrats! You have just made a starter (also called biga) for your delicious ciabatta bread made at home.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe - Step2

Step 2: Once biga is rested it will become bubbly and might become even looser when you left it. That’s totally fine.

Now pour lukewarm water in the bowl, going around the edges of the bowl and pouring small portions at a time. This is how we hydrate and aerate biga even more at the same time liberating it from the bowl.

Pour biga and water mix into a bowl of a standing mixer, oil the dough hook and start the actual bread making process.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe - Step3

Step 3: Turn on your mixer on low speed, knead for a 1-2 minutes and start adding flour.

Now this is an important part – make sure your aerate/sift the flour first.

I can’t stress it enough what a difference it makes, you’ll thank me afterwards 🙂

In the last portion of flour (approx 1 cup) add salt and mix it into the flour. Add to the dough. Knead on medium speed for 10 minutes. You’ll notice the dough will start to change its texture. Becoming more smooth and starting to climb up the hook.

Increase mixer speed to high and knead for another 10 minutes. If you mixer bowl is large enough you’ll see the dough coming off the bowl sides. That’s a perfect sign the dough is ready and developed strong gluten.

You would be able to tell just from the look that it’s very silky and shiny.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe - Step4

Step 4: Transfer the dough to a big oiled bowl, so that there is enough space for the dough to double or triple.

Cover with plastic wrap and let is sit at a room temperature for about 40-50 minutes.

The next very important thing to keep in mind is the way you work the dough once it starts to mature.

After the first 40-50 minutes the dough will double in size.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe - Step5

Step 5: What you do is deep a silicon spatula in a water and start folding the dough onto itself, from the outside to the center of the bowl. You should be able to make 6-10 folds.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe - Step6

Do it gently, so that the dough becomes well aerated and not deflated.

Using both of your hands, rise the dough from the bowl letting it fold, turn the bowl 90 degrees and fold in the same manner again. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 40-50 minutes.

First Rise vs Second Rise

This time you’ll notice more bubble forming in the dough and it may not double but even triple in size. See the picture above (first rise on the left, second rise on the right).

Repeat this last folding process once again and let the dough rest for the last 40-50 minutes.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe - Step7

Step 6: Once it’s perfectly bubbly and screams to get out of the bowl, GENEROUSLY sprinkle the work surface with the flour. You’ll regret if you wouldn’t. The dough is veery sticky, but that’s the secret for gorgeous light and airy ciabatta bread.

Flip the bowl upside down and let the dough “slide” off of the bowl by itself.

Sprinkle your scrapers and top of the dough with flour again.

Constantly assisting with the scrapers give it a rectangular shape. Cut into elongated loafs or individual buns. You can make the rolls either square or triangle and they are HEAVEN for panini.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe - Step8

Step 7: Generously sprinkle a linen towel with flour and using large dough scrapers transfer the bread loaves on it. Separate each loaf with a towel fold (see the picture) or use individual towel for each roll.

Now it’s time to turn on the oven to 450F while ciabatta bread rests on the towel.

If you are wondering what did we place ciabatta on the towel in the first place? The answer is simple, that’s how the bread loaf aerates even more before baking plus a linen towel gives the baked bread those incredible wrinkles that look fantastic.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe - Step9

Step 8: After 10-15 minutes flip ciabatta loaves over on parchment paper sprinkled with semolina or corn flour (to prevent bread from sticking).

Step 9: Just before you put the bread into the oven, spray the oven generously with cold water to create as much steam as you can. Steam really helps ciabatta bread to cook perfectly both on the inside and outside.

Bake for 20-25 minutes without EVER opening the oven. After the first 10 minutes reduce temperature to 400F.

When it’s golden brown, or may seem even slightly burned that is it.

Your ciabatta just reached its perfection and all you have left is let it cool for 15-20 on the wire rack.

Homemade Ciabatta Bread Step by Step

Slice it into pieces and spread some butter or eat it whole or make arugula, prosciutto crudo and mozzarella panino 😋

Love Italian Homemade Bread?

Here’s more to try!

Tuscan Bread {Pane Toscano}

Pagnotta {Italian Round Country Bread}

Traditional Focaccia Bread {Focaccoa Genovese}

Ciabatta Bread
4.54 from 15 votes

Ciabatta Bread Recipe

Light, porous and airy on the inside, crusty and golden brown on the outside ciabatta bread is all about flavor and texture.
Print Pin Rate / Comment
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Resting time4 hrs
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 3 loaves

Ingredients

For biga (starter)

For the dough

  • 2 cups water lukewarm
  • 5-6 cups (650-750g) bread flour (measured after sifting)
  • 1 ½ tsp salt

For greasing

Instructions

  • In a medium size bowl add water and dry yeast. Wait 10 minutes until the yeast is fully dissolved and has a “creamy’ texture.
  • Mix in the flour. You should get a very loose and sticky dough.
    It should have consistency thick enough not to come off from the spoon as, say, sour cream or greek yogurt, but wet enough so that it’s impossible to knead it by hand.
  • Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the dough rest at a room temperature for 3-4 hrs or overnight.
    I just don’t recommend leaving biga for more than 24 hrs as the yeast will start to over-mature and loose its power.
  • Once biga is rested it will become bubbly and might become even looser when you left it.
    Now pour lukewarm water in the bowl, going around the edges of the bowl and pouring small portions at a time.
    This is how we hydrate and aerate biga even more at the same time liberating it from the bowl.
  • Pour biga and wate mix into a bowl of a standing mixer, oil the dough hook.
    Turn on your mixer on low speed, knead for a 1-2 minutes and start adding flour.
  • In the last portion of flour (approx 1cup) add salt and mix it into the flour. Add to the dough.
    Knead on medium speed for 10 minutes. You’ll notice the dough starting changing its texture. Becoming more smooth and starting to climb up the hook. Increase mixer speed to high and knead for another 10 minutes.
    If you mixer bowl is large enough you’ll see the dough coming off the bowl sides. That’s a perfect sign the dough is ready and has developed strong gluten.
    You would be able to tell just from the look that it’s very silky and shiny.
  • Transfer the dough to a big oiled bowl, so that there is enough space for the bread to double or triple.
    Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at a room temperature for about 40-50 minutes.
  • After the first 40-50 minutes the dough will double in size.
    Deep a silicon spatula in a water and start folding the dough onto itself, from the outside to the center of the bowl. You should be able to make 6-10 folds.
  • Do it gently, so that the dough becomes well aerated and not deflated.
    Now using both hands, rise the dough from the bowl letting it fold, turn the bowl 90 degrees and fold in the same manner again. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 40-50 minutes.
  • Repeat this last folding process once again and let the dough rest for the last 40-50 minutes.
  • Once it’s perfectly bubbly and screams to get out of the bowl, GENEROUSLY sprinkle the working surface with the flour. You’ll regret if you wouldn’t. The dough is veery sticky, but that’s the secret for gorgeous light and airy ciabatta bread.
  • Flip the bowl upside down and let the dough “slide” off of the bowl by itself.
  • Sprinkle your scrapers and top of the dough with flour again.
    Constantly assisting with the scrapers give it a rectangular shape. Cut into elongated loaves or individual rolls. You can make the rolls either square or triangle and they are HEAVEN for panini.
  • Generously sprinkle linen cloth with flour and using large dough scrapers transfer the bread loaves onto it.
    Separate each loaf with a towel fold (see the pictures) or use individual towel for each of the loaves.
  • Turn on the oven to 450F while ciabatta bread rests on the towel.
  • After 10-15 minutes flip ciabatta loaves over on parchment paper sprinkled with semolina or corn flour (to prevent bread from sticking).
  • Just before you put the bread into the oven, spray the oven generously with cold water to create as much steam as you can.
    Steam really helps ciabatta bread to cook perfectly both on the inside and outside.
  • Bake ciabatta for 20-25 minutes without EVER opening the oven. After 10 minutes in the oven reduce the heat to 400F.
    When it’s golden brown, or may seem even slightly burned that is it.
    Your ciabatta bread has just reached its perfection and all you have left is let it cool for 15-20 on the wire rack.

Video

Notes

For this recipe measure flour AFTER sifting.
Liked this recipe?Follow @italianrecipeb for more!
Homemade Ciabatta Bread Pin

Slice ciabatta roll into pieces and spread on some butter or extra virgin olive oil, make panino or scarpetta. There is more than just one way to enjoy this bread!

Buon Appetito!

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Recipe Rating




Concettina

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Hello - watching your video several times I count only 4 cups flour being added with salt at the end. Your result is much wetter than mine. I used 5.5 cups flour as per the recipe. Am I missing something? I don't want to give up - your end result looks wonderful.

Italian Recipe Book

Thursday 14th of January 2021

Hello Concettina, that's a great question and here's my detailed answer: 1. Since I had to fit all ciabatta making process into about 4 minutes video, I'm pretty sure I've cut out a few cups of flour from the video :) So I indeed used the quantity of flour as per the recipe. However 2. The quantity of flour is not set in stone, since it may vary due to different factor. I suggest you take a note of the consistency of the dough that I get at each stage (watching the video and from the photos). Sometimes it takes more than just one try to get it right, but please don't give up. Just add less flour next time you make it and you'll have an amazing result! Please let me know if you have any other questions and also how your second try goes.

Brian

Saturday 9th of January 2021

Great recipe and very easy to do just trying to stop myself eating it all will be making it again.

Italian Recipe Book

Thursday 14th of January 2021

Ahaha, that should be a fear warning :D Thanks for commenting Brian. Enjoy!

Jim

Tuesday 5th of January 2021

I was after a great ciabatta and this is the second recipe I tried. I've made this one three times, each time using less flour. My latest loaf, with minimum amount of flour, turned out the best. Great chewy crust and delicious bread, everything I was looking for in a ciabatta.

It is time consuming but being retired and now being home more, due to covid, time is not a problem.

I've only made one loaf at a time but I think next time I will double my recipe and make one loaf and 4 or 5 square rolls.

Looking forward to that.

Italian Recipe Book

Thursday 14th of January 2021

Hello Jim, thank you for your comment and for letting me know how your ciabatta bread turned out. Yes, sometimes it takes more than just one try to get it perfect. I'm so happy you didn't give up. Amount of flour necessary varies upon several factors, what is more important is taking notes of the consistency of the dough as you work it. Stay safe and enjoy your homemade ciabatta bread!

Peter

Thursday 17th of December 2020

Hello,

I was wondering about making a smaller batch rather than 3 loafs. Can you use the initial amount of biga and jsut use half lets say of dough ingredients?

Thanks for your help,

Italian Recipe Book

Friday 18th of December 2020

Hi Peter, if you'd like to make a small batch ciabatta bread simply use half of the ingredients, including those for biga, as it will help maintain the right proportion for all the ingredients. Let me know how it goes. Happy Holidays!

Jake

Tuesday 1st of December 2020

Really 2 cups of flour for the starter you stupid idiot. Followed the first steps then called some bread bakers in salt lake and they all said this is a terrible recipe and that the images don't make any sense what so even so if your looking to waste your flour and your yeast feel free to use it they told me. Fuck moron who ever created it.

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