Bake delicious ciabatta bread at home with our easy recipe. Crispy crust, fluffy inside. Simple steps, basic ingredients.

Today, we’re diving into the wonderful world of ciabatta bread, a rustic Italian loaf known for its crispy crust and soft, airy interior. But don’t be intimidated! Making ciabatta bread at home is easier than you might think. With just a few simple ingredients and some patience, you’ll soon be enjoying the delightful aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through your home.

First things first, let’s talk about the key characteristics of ciabatta bread. Unlike traditional sandwich bread, ciabatta has a chewy texture with irregular air pockets, making it perfect for sopping up soups or creating gourmet sandwiches.

Now, onto the ingredients. You’ll need flour, water, yeast, salt, and perhaps a touch of olive oil. That’s it! No fancy equipment is required—just a mixing bowl, a sturdy spoon, and your hands. The magic of ciabatta lies in its simplicity, allowing the natural flavors of the flour to shine through.

As for the process, it’s all about patience and gentle handling. Ciabatta dough is wet and sticky, which might seem daunting at first, but trust the process. With a series of gentle folds and plenty of resting time, the dough will transform into a beautifully textured loaf with a crisp crust and a tender crumb.

So, are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get baking? Follow along as we guide you through each step of the process, from mixing the dough to baking it to golden perfection. Get ready to impress your friends and family with your newfound baking skills, and most importantly, enjoy the fruits of your labor with a slice of freshly baked ciabatta bread.

Reasons to Love Ciabatta Bread

There are countless reasons to love ciabatta bread, each contributing to its enduring popularity among bread enthusiasts worldwide. Here are just a few:

  • Versatility: Ciabatta’s versatility makes it a favorite in kitchens everywhere. Whether you’re making sandwiches, bruschetta, or panini, or simply enjoying it dipped in olive oil, ciabatta’s sturdy yet airy texture pairs well with a wide range of flavors and ingredients.
  • Texture: One of Ciabatta’s defining characteristics is its unique texture. With its crisp crust and large, irregular air pockets within the soft crumb, the ciabatta offers a delightful contrast of textures in every bite.
  • Flavor: Despite its simple ingredient list, ciabatta boasts a complex flavor profile. The fermentation process enhances the natural sweetness of the flour, resulting in bread with a subtle nuttiness and a hint of tanginess that complements a variety of dishes.
  • Homemade Appeal: While ciabatta is readily available in bakeries and grocery stores, there’s something special about baking it at home. The process allows you to connect with the artistry of breadmaking, and the satisfaction of pulling a freshly baked loaf from your oven is unparalleled.
  • Crustiness: Ciabatta’s crust is a thing of beauty. Its crispy exterior crackles with each bite, offering a satisfying crunch that gives way to the soft, pillowy interior. Whether toasted or enjoyed fresh, the crust adds an extra dimension to the bread-eating experience.

Ingredients needed to make Ciabatta Bread

  • Bread Flour: high-protein flour specifically designed for breadmaking, essential for achieving the desired texture and structure of ciabatta.
  • Water: provides hydration for the dough and helps activate the yeast for fermentation, resulting in a light and airy crumb.
  • Yeast: a leavening agent responsible for the bread’s rise, giving ciabatta its characteristic airy texture. Active dry yeast or instant yeast can be used.
  • Salt: enhances the flavor of the bread and regulates yeast activity. It also strengthens the gluten structure, contributing to the bread’s texture and crust formation.
  • Olive Oil: While optional, adding a small amount of olive oil to the dough can enhance the flavor and add a touch of richness to the bread.
  • Cornmeal, or semolina: used to dust the baking surface, preventing the dough from sticking during baking and adding a subtle crunch to the bottom crust.
  • Optional Ingredients: Some recipes may call for additional ingredients such as honey or sugar for added sweetness, or herbs and spices for flavor variations. These can be incorporated according to personal preference.
ciabatta bread ingredients

How to make Ciabatta Bread

Make the poolish

  • Combine the flour, water, and yeast in a medium bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined and the mixture is smooth. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment at room temperature for 15 to 20 hours.

Make the dough

  1. Add the poolish and all ingredients for the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until all the flour is moistened, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-low and mix until the dough forms into a mass and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes.
  2. Switch to the dough hook attachment and mix on medium-low until the dough becomes smooth and shiny about 10 minutes. The dough will be soft, wet, and sticky, much like batter.
  3. Lightly coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil or non-stick spray. Use a silicone dough scraper to scrape the dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature.
  4. Using a greased scraper or damp fingertips, gently grab one side of the dough, lift it, and stretch it over the top of itself. Turn the bowl 180 degrees and stretch it the same way. Rotate 90 degrees, stretch, and fold. Rotate 180 degrees to stretch and fold the final side. Flip the dough over so the bottom becomes the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes. Repeat folding two more times, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an additional 45 minutes after each.
  5. Adjust the oven racks so that one is in the lower-third position (just below the center) and one is at the very bottom position. Place a cast-iron skillet on the lowest rack and an inverted baking sheet on the upper rack. Heat the oven to 450°F. It’s important to let the oven preheat for at least an hour to ensure it is hot enough.
  6. Liberally dust your work surface with flour and let the dough slide out of the bowl onto the counter. Be very gentle 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.
  7. Cut the dough in half, down the middle of the square. Gently shape each half into loaves by using the bench scrapers to manipulate the sides.
  8. Invert a large baking sheet and place a sheet of parchment paper across the top. Dust liberally with flour. Using both bench scrapers, slide them under both ends of the dough and transfer the dough to the prepared parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining loaf. Use your fingertips to gently poke the surface of each loaf as you shape it into a rectangle.
  9. Cover with a lint-free cloth to prevent the loaves from drying out. Proof in a draft-free place until puffy and the surface develops small bubbles, about 30 minutes.
  10. Have 1 cup of ice ready. Mist the loaves with water and carefully slide the parchment loaves on the heated baking sheet in the oven using a jerking motion. Immediately drop the ice into the cast-iron pan on the bottom rack. Quickly close the oven door.
  11. Bake, until the crust is a deep golden brown, about 25–35 minutes. The internal temperature of the bread should be 210–215 °F.
  12. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing and serving

What to Serve with Ciabatta Bread?

Ciabatta bread’s rustic charm and versatile texture make it an ideal companion to a wide array of dishes. Its crusty exterior and airy interior perfectly complement savory spreads, hearty soups, and vibrant salads alike. Serve freshly baked ciabatta alongside a robust antipasto platter adorned with an assortment of cured meats, marinated vegetables, olives, and cheeses for a Mediterranean-inspired feast. The bread’s sturdy structure also makes it an excellent choice for crafting gourmet sandwiches filled with grilled vegetables, artisanal cheeses, roasted meats, and flavorful spreads, offering a delightful combination of textures and flavors in every bite.

For a cozy dinner at home, pair slices of warm ciabatta bread with a rich and comforting bowl of curried cauliflower soup or a hearty beef stew. Its ability to soak up the savory broth adds depth and satisfaction to each spoonful. Alternatively, elevate your pasta night by serving ciabatta alongside a Creamy mushroom chicken alfredo, allowing guests to savor every last drop of sauce with a crispy crust of bread. Whether it’s a casual gathering or a formal dinner party, ciabatta bread’s versatility and irresistible taste make it the perfect accompaniment to any meal.

Variations

  • Herb Ciabatta: Incorporate chopped fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or oregano into the dough during mixing for an aromatic twist on classic ciabatta.
  • Cheese-Stuffed Ciabatta: Add a savory surprise by placing slices of your favorite cheese (such as mozzarella, cheddar, or Gruyère) between layers of dough before shaping and baking.
  • Olive Ciabatta: Fold pitted and chopped olives (green or black) into the dough during the mixing stage for bursts of briny flavor in every bite.
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Ciabatta: Mix chopped sun-dried tomatoes into the dough for a sweet and tangy addition that pairs perfectly with Italian-inspired sandwiches or dips.
  • Garlic Ciabatta: Infuse the dough with minced garlic or garlic powder for a fragrant and flavorful bread that’s ideal for serving alongside pasta dishes or as a base for garlic bread.
  • Spicy Ciabatta: Add a kick of heat by mixing in crushed red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños for a ciabatta with a fiery twist.
  • Seeded Ciabatta: Top the shaped dough with a mixture of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or flaxseeds before baking to add extra crunch and flavor to your loaves.
ciabatta bread with olives

Tips and Suggestions

  • Use Bread Flour: Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, which helps develop gluten and gives ciabatta its characteristic texture. Using bread flour will result in a lighter, airier loaf.
  • Handle the Dough Gently: Ciabatta dough is wet and sticky, so resist the temptation to add too much flour. Instead, use wet hands or a bench scraper to handle the dough gently during shaping to avoid deflating it.
  • Preheat Your Oven Properly: Make sure your oven is fully preheated before baking the ciabatta. A hot oven helps create steam, which contributes to a crispy crust and proper rise.
  • Create steam: Place a shallow pan filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven while preheating. This will create steam, which is essential for developing a crisp crust.
  • Use a Pizza Stone or Baking Steel: For an extra crispy bottom crust, preheat a pizza stone or baking steel in the oven and transfer the shaped ciabatta onto it for baking.
  • Score the Dough: Use a sharp knife or razor blade to make shallow cuts on the surface of the dough just before baking. This allows steam to escape and prevents the dough from tearing unevenly as it rises in the oven.
  • Let it Cool Completely: Allow the baked ciabatta to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Cutting into it too soon can result in a gummy texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my ciabatta dough so wet and sticky?

Ciabatta dough is supposed to be wet and sticky to achieve its characteristic airy texture. Avoid adding too much flour, as this can result in a denser loaf. Instead, use wet hands or a bench scraper to handle the dough during shaping.

Can I make ciabatta bread without a stand mixer?

Yes, you can make ciabatta bread without a stand mixer. While a stand mixer can make the process easier, you can also mix and knead the dough by hand. It will require a bit more effort, but the results can be just as delicious.

Why is my ciabatta bread not rising properly?

Proper rising depends on several factors, including yeast activity, temperature, and humidity. Ensure your yeast is fresh and active, and allow enough time for the dough to rise. Additionally, make sure your kitchen is warm enough for fermentation, ideally around 75–80°F (24–27°C).

Can I freeze ciabatta bread?

Yes, you can freeze ciabatta bread. Once cooled completely, wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in a freezer bag. It can be frozen for up to 2–3 months. To thaw, leave it at room temperature or reheat it in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 10–15 minutes.
Ciabatta Bread

Easy Ciabatta Bread Recipe

Bake delicious ciabatta bread at home with our easy recipe. Crispy crust, fluffy inside. Simple steps, basic ingredients.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting time 23 hours
Total Time 1 day 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, cheese course, Dessert, Salad, Soup
Cuisine American, French, international, Italian, Mediterranean, spanish
Servings 12 12 inch loaves

Ingredients
  

Poolish/Sponge

  • 1-1/2 cups bread flour 200 g
  • 1 scant water, room temperature 200 ml
  • ¼ tsp instant yeast

For the dough

  • 2-2/3 cups bread flour 350 g
  • 1 cup water, room temperature 240 ml
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp instant yeast

Instructions
 

Make the poolish

  • Combine the flour, water, and yeast in a medium bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined and the mixture is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment at room temperature for 15 to 20 hours.

Make the dough

  • Add the poolish and all ingredients for the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until all the flour is moistened, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-low and mix until the dough forms into a mass and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes.
  • Switch to the dough hook attachment and mix on medium-low until dough becomes smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes. The dough will be soft, wet, and sticky much like batter.
  • Lightly coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil or nonstick spray. Use a silicone dough scraper to scrape the dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature.
  • Using a greased scraper or damp fingertips, gently grab one side of the dough, lift and stretch it over the top of itself. Turn the bowl 180 degrees and stretch the same way. Rotate 90 degrees, stretch and fold. Rotate 180 degrees to stretch and fold the final side. Flip the dough over so the bottom becomes the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes. Repeat folding two more times, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an additional 45 minutes after each.
  • Liberally dust your work surface with flour and let the dough slide out of the bowl onto the counter. Be very gentle 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 loaves by using the bench scrapers to manipulate the sides.
  • Invert a large baking sheet and place a sheet of parchment paper across the top. Dust liberally with flour. Using both bench scrapers, slide them under both ends of the dough and transfer the dough to the prepared parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining loaf. Use your fingertips to gently poke the surface of each loaf as you shape it into a rectangle.
  • Cover with a lint-free cloth to prevent the loaves from drying out. Proof in a draft-free place until puffy and the surface develops small bubbles, about 30 minutes.
  • Have 1 cup of ice ready. Mist the loaves with water and carefully slide the parchment with loaves on the heated baking sheet in the oven using a jerking motion. Immediately drop the ice into the cast-iron pan on the bottom rack. Quickly close the oven door.
  • Bake, until the crust is a deep golden brown, about 25–35 minutes. The internal temperature of the bread should be 210-215°F.
  • Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing and serving
Keyword bread, Ciabatta, Easy, homemade, rustic
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