This homemade ciabatta bread recipe produces perfect ciabatta bread like you would buy in an Italian paneterria (Italian bakery). This Italian bread is great for cutting into strips for crostini or cutting in half to make a sandwiches. This recipe will show you the tricks to get that perfect crisp ciabatta crust with your home oven.
Homemade Ciabatta Bread
I love using this homemade Italian bread for crostini to serve along soup or to make bruschetta. It also makes a great bread to make and freeze and is very quick to thaw.
This homemade ciabatta bread recipe is originally from Carol Field, the author of the Italian Baker. This rustic Italian bread recipe is very easy to follow and makes 4 loaves which I like.
Making this ciabatta bread will take a little planning before you start since this is a traditional ciabatta bread recipe where there is a starter sponge, 2 rising times then the baking time to make this bread.
I promise it is not difficult, just steps that are spread out over time so planning this out ahead of time and making it on the weekend is ideal.
Because it is a bit time consuming (though easy to make) it makes sense to freeze some of the four loaves of bread it produces and have bread for the month.
I really like Carol's book because it is easy for novice bakers to follow and the recipes are well thought out. I added a couple tips for home bakers that I found helpful during the baking process and that I think other bakers will find helpful too.
Making this rustic Italian bread
This ciabatta bread is a great bread to make on the weekend when you have a little more time on your hands. It actually has very little hands on time but does require a step or so every 1-2 hours for a couple hours.
I am always about keeping things simple and I do not like complicated recipes. There are however times when we all need to get our hands in some dough and bake fresh bread.
I promise you that this recipe will not be as complicated as many bread recipes that are out there. The rustic nature of this homemade ciabatta bread makes it ideal for beginners.
How to make
This Italian ciabatta bread is made with biga so in addition to the steps for assembling the bread, you will need to think about planning out making the biga.
- You want to start with planning when everything is going to be made. If you write a plan down with times for the different steps in the recipe then you will be able to follow a schedule and make sure your dough is not sitting for too long.
This on paper would look like:
- Start the biga at 8:00 p.m. on Friday.
- Let the biga age for 12 hours (or overnight on Friday.)
- Saturday at 8:00 a.m. I start the assembling of my ciabatta.
Making the biga is so easy that it does not interfere with any Friday plans I have since it is just mix and set aside.
- After you have written out your plan, the next thing you will need to do in this recipe is make what is called a biga, or Italian starter sponge. This step needs to be done the day before since biga needs to be aged. This should be done exactly 12 hours before for this particular recipe.
- Once the biga is ready, mix ingredients together.
- Start to knead the dough and do the first rising time.
- Now start to shape the dough and do the second rising time.
- After the second rising time, you are ready to bake.
TIP: After the assembling of the main ciabatta dough, you will want to plan on your cooking time and the extra step of adding moisture into the oven by adding a few ice cubes in there when the bread first starts to bake.
The ice cube trick is important in developing that nice crust. Plus it is really neat to watch how fast the ice turns to steam when you throw it into a really hot oven!
Ways to use ciabatta bread
This ciabatta bread recipe gives me enough to serve with dinner on Saturday, lunch on Sunday and some leftovers to freeze for later in the week.
I love using this ciabatta bread for soups and stew like my Winter minestrone , Pasta Genovese, Dutch oven Beef Stew or a with Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon. I also love serving it alongside creamy soups like my carrot and acorn squash soup for a little crunch.
You can use homemade ciabatta bread to make ciabatta sandwiches by slicing the ciabatta in half lengthwise and assembling meats and cheeses in it.
Homemade ciabatta is great on its own dipped in olive oil and red pepper flakes, the way Italians love eating it.
Remember, this homemade ciabatta bread all starts with the biga. The recipe for Italian biga is very simple and will only take a few minutes to assemble!
If you have your own biga recipe you can use that as well. Just make sure it is aged for only 12 hours.
I hope you give this a try and see how amazing homemade ciabatta bread can be!
Ciabatta bread should have a crispy exterior and soft airy interior. This is what makes a traditional ciabatta bread.
If you have soft ciabatta bread, this means the bread did not have enough heat and steam during the baking process. This recipe ensures your ciabatta bread will come out crisp on the outside and soft and airy on the inside.
If you are looking for ideas of how to use this ciabatta bread, here are some of our favorites:
More Dough Recipes You May Like
- Homemade Flatbread (No Yeast)
- Fluffy Yogurt Biscuits
- Essential Homemade Pie crust
- Vanilla Scones
- Aged Pizza Dough
- Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- Cheddar Scones
Homemade Ciabatta Bread
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- stand mixer, pizza stones or cast iron pans turned upside down for baking
BIGA (do this 12 hours before starting the bread)
- ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- ¾ cup plus 4 tablespoon room temperature water bottled spring water is best
- 2 ⅓ cup Unbleached all purpose flour
- vegetable oil for the bowl
- 3 ¼ cup unbleached all purpose flour about 500 grams
- 2 cups Italian biga aged for 12 hours about 500 grams
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water at room temperature
- 5 tablespoon warm milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- cornmeal for dusting bread before baking
Making the biga (this takes 12 hours to form)
- Add ½ of the warm water and all the yeast into a large bowl and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
- Stir the remaining water into the creamy yeast mixture, and then stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time. If mixing by hand, stir with a wooden spoon for 3 to 4 minutes. If mixing with a stand mixer, beat with the paddle at the lowest speed for 2 minutes. If mixing with a food processor, mix just until a sticky dough forms.
- Transfer the biga to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at cool room temperature for 12 hours, until the starter is triple its original volume but is still wet and sticky.vegetable oil for the bowl
Making the ciabatta dough (this step takes about 15 minutes)
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, add your milk and yeast and let sit until creamy (about 10 minutes)1 teaspoon active dry yeast, 5 tablespoon warm milk
- Next add your water, oil and biga and with a fork, mix it well until the biga is incorporated into the liquid1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water at room temperature, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 cups Italian biga aged for 12 hours
- Next, add your flour and salt and mix with the mixer for 2-3 minutes using the paddle attachment3 ¼ cup unbleached all purpose flour, 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Now switch your attachment to the dough hook and mix on low speed for for 2 minutes then medium speed for another 2 minutes,
- Remove from the mixer bowl on to a very lightly floured surface
- Knead until the dough is velvety and smooth (about 2 minutes)
First Rise (this step takes 1 ½ hours)
- Now place your needed dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let rest for about 1 ½ hours. It should double in size during this time and turn bubbly and sticky.
Second Rise (this steep takes 1 ½ hours)
- Remove the dough from your bowl and place on a lightly floured surface
- cut your dough into 4 quarters. I like to use a bench scraper for this but you can use a large knife.
- Working with one quarter of your dough at a time, roll your dough into a rectangle shape about 10 inches by 4 inches. You may need to use your hands to stretch it out to this length and make sure you are working with a ruler to measure. I keep one of my kids old school rulers in a kitchen drawer for this.
- Now get out 4 pieces of parchment paper, pizza peels or baking sheets and add a generous amount of flour on them.
- Add your first shaped dough on to one of them (if there is a seem from the kneading step then make sure you place your dough seem side down) and proceed to shape the other 3 quarters the same way.
- Once you have shaped all of your dough, using your finger tips or knuckles, start making dimples in your dough by pressing your knuckles or fingers all around the top of the dough. This helps make sure it will not rise too much as it rests again.
- Cover all of your dough with dampened towels. I like to take a kitchen towel and lightly spray the towel completely down with a mist of water. If I see any dry spots on my towel I mist it again.
- Let the dough rest for another 1 ½- 2 hours or until it rises a little bit but not doubled. This dough will not do much rising here but do not be worried, it is not supposed to!
Baking (this step takes about 20-25 minutes)
- Add your pizza stone, or if using cast iron pans (turned upside down) into your oven. If you are short on cast iron pans for 4 loaves of bread or your pizza stone is not large enough, just bake your bread in batches.
- Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F for 30 minutes with your pizza stones or cast iron pans in the oven. Make sure it is pre-heating for this length of time so the surface that the bread is going to bake on is nice and hot
- When your oven has pre-heated for 30 minutes, add a sprinkle of cornmeal onto your stone or pans and then take your ciabatta loaf and flip it on to your stone. This means the top of your ciabatta dough is now the bottom when baking in the oven. Also, if your your dough is too long for your pan or pizza stone then gently push in the sides (like an accordion) after placing it in the oven. If you used parchment paper and it won't come off your dough, leave it on the dough to bake for a few minutes and then it should release.cornmeal for dusting bread before baking
- Set a timer for your loaves to bake for 20-25 minutes
- At this point, grab 3 small ice cubes and throw that on to the bottom of your oven to create steam and close the oven door
- Wait 3 minutes and throw 3 more ice cubes on to the floor of your oven
- Wait another 3 minutes and do this one more time
- In total you should have added 3 batches of ice cubes for steam in the first 10 minutes
- After your loaves have baked for 20-25 minutes and they are nice and golden on the outside, remove them from the oven carefully (they will be hot) and let cool on a cooling rack.
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here