Ciabatta Bread

Ciabatta Bread Recipe | browneyedbaker.com

I have such a love affair with baking homemade bread, yet sometimes I need a reminder to do it more often. This loaf of bread was my kick in the pants to make homemade bread a habit instead of a hobby. The smell of yeast and fresh, rising dough has such a calming effect. It makes me want to curl up on a covered wrap-around porch and read during a rainstorm. Ciabatta has been on my list of recipes to try for years, and I really wish I had made it sooner. I honestly had no idea how relatively simple ciabatta is to make. If I had known, I would have been churning out loaves of ciabatta on a weekly basis for years. Now that I know… look out!

Ciabatta Bread Recipe | browneyedbaker.com

I’ve long loved ciabatta bread for its chewy exterior and soft crumb speckled with air holes. It’s the perfect bread for dunking into soup, slicing horizontally and making a sandwich, or for simply slathering with butter and eating until your heart’s content.

This recipe is really not complicated at all, although it does take a little bit of planning ahead since the sponge needs to be made the night before you plan to bake the bread. Actual hands-on time is less than an hour total, and the dough is very forgiving. Once you bite into these loaves for the first time, I’m sure you’ll also wonder what took you so long.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe | browneyedbaker.com

Be forewarned – my Chief Culinary Consultant and I polished off an entire loaf ourselves in less than one day. Fresh bread and butter is just too good to resist!

One year ago: Six-Layer Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Filling & Malted Chocolate Frosting
Two years ago: Rhubarb Crumb Cake
Three years ago: Fruit and Almond Granola and Salted Peanut Chews
Four years ago: Super Mario Brothers Birthday Cake
Five years ago: Blueberry Crumb Cake
Six years ago: Caramel-Topped Flan

Ciabatta Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Prep Time: 12 hours

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours 30 minutes

A recipe for Ciabatta Bread - soft, chewy homemade bread just can't be beat!

Ingredients:

For the Sponge:
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
½ cup water, at room temperature

For the Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
¾ cup water, at room temperature
¼ cup whole or 2% milk, at room temperature

Directions:

1. Make the Sponge: Combine the flour, yeast and water in a medium bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until a uniform mass forms. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

2. Make the Dough: Place the sponge and the dough ingredients (flour, salt, yeast, water and milk) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined and a shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed. Increase the speed to medium-low and continue mixing until the dough becomes a uniform mass that collects on the paddle and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 4 to 6 minutes.

ciabatta-prep1

Change to the dough hook and knead the bread on medium speed until smooth and shiny (the dough will be very sticky), about 10 minutes.

ciabatta-bread-prep2

Transfer the dough to a large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Spray a rubber spatula or bowl scraper with non-stick cooking spray. Fold the dough over itself by gently lifting and folding the edge of the dough toward the middle. Turn the bowl 90 degrees, and fold again. Turn the bowl and fold the dough 6 more times (for a total of 8 times).

ciabatta-prep3

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

4. Repeat the folding as in step #3, replace the plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

5. One hour before baking, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a baking stone on the rack and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

6. Cut two 12x6-inch pieces of parchment paper and dust liberally with flour. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, being careful not to deflate it completely. Liberally flour the top of the dough and divide it in half with a bench scraper. Turn 1 piece of dough cut-side-up and dust with flour. With well-floured hands, press the dough into a rough 12x6-inch rectangle. Fold the shorter sides of the dough toward center, overlapping them like you would fold a letter in thirds, to form a 7x4-inch rectangle. Repeat with the second piece of dough.

7. Gently transfer each loaf, seam-side-down, to the parchment sheets, dust with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the loaves sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (the surface of the loaves will develop small bubbles).

8. Slide the parchment pieces with the loaves onto a pizza peel. Using floured fingertips, evenly poke the entire surface of each loaf to form a 10x6-inch rectangle; spray the loaves lightly with water. Slides the loaves and parchment onto the baking stone. Bake, spraying the loaves with water twice more during the first 5 minutes of baking time, until the crust is deep golden brown and the loaves register 210 degrees F, 22 to 27 minutes.

9. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack, discard the parchment, and let cool to room temperature for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving. The bread can be wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Wrapped with an additional layer of foil, the bread can be frozen for up to 1 month. To recrisp the crust, thaw the bread at room temperature (if frozen), and place unwrapped bread in 450-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes.

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63 Responses to “Ciabatta Bread”

  1. Crystal | Apples & Sparkle on March 24, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Homemade bread is absolutely my #1 weakness. This looks so yummy, I love all the air pockets. = )

    Reply

  2. Lori on March 24, 2014 at 2:55 am

    Michelle this looks delicious. I will have to give this a try. Looks delish

    Reply

  3. Fatimah on March 24, 2014 at 3:54 am

    Ohh my godddd….
    I fell in love with this sticky sponge bread…
    I am dreaming to eat that with some italian soup:)
    Thanks a lot for sharing dear michelle.
    I am sure that i will give it a try as soon as possible:-X

    Reply

  4. Sophie on March 24, 2014 at 5:59 am

    I love making bread, homemade bread is just so much better than store bought. I’ve considered making ciabatta before, but I heard somewhere it was quite difficult, so I’d been put off, but reading this recipe it seems a lot easier than I thought, I just need to be prepared. Thanks for the recipe, I’ll definitely be giving this a try some day soon :)

    Reply

  5. Belinda@themoonblushbaker on March 24, 2014 at 5:59 am

    I wish your blog was around when I first attempted this! I simply love this with herby olive oil and a slice of fresh mozzarella. You bread is divine!

    Reply

  6. Lisa @ Simple Pairings on March 24, 2014 at 6:55 am

    I can’t wait to try this! Ciabatta is one of my very favorite breads – it can transform any standard sandwich into extraordinary, can’t it? Looks so lovely. There’s nothing like the chew of ciabatta!

    Reply

  7. Chloe @ foodlikecake on March 24, 2014 at 7:51 am

    I love ciabatta bread! This looks amazing

    Reply

  8. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar on March 24, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I looooove the look of this bread! Ciabatta is one of my all time fav breads!

    Reply

  9. nancy k on March 24, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Ciabatta has to be my favortite crusty bread. I used to work near a Portuguese bakery that made it twice a week…Tuesday and Friday. In addition , there was a store nearby that carried a fresh, soft white cheese on Fridays. My assistant would often stop on her way to work and pick up both for our lunch. She loved spreading a spicy condiment on her serving but I loved the combination of warm bread and plain, delicious cheese…so delicious. Your recipe brought back all of thos yummy memories. I will have to give this recioe a try but I don’t have a stand mixer so I have to figure out how to mix this…by hand I guess.

    Reply

  10. Melanie @ Carmel Moments on March 24, 2014 at 9:49 am

    I think ciabatta is my all time favorite bread. Paninis! I’m so happy that I’ve finally conquered it in my own kitchen too. Bread making is definitely one of my passions. :)
    Have a wonderful Monday!

    Reply

  11. Tembo on March 24, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Oh man as soon as I saw this I just HAD to get it started tonight! Got the sponge on whilst making dinner, can’t wait for morning to get started!

    Reply

  12. Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction on March 24, 2014 at 10:21 am

    I need to make my own ciabatta more often! Yours looks amazing!

    Reply

  13. Anisa - The Macadame on March 24, 2014 at 10:42 am

    You made this look so easy!!
    I am travelling at the moment so I hope to get into bread making when i’m home :)
    Thanks for sharing!
    Anisa – The Macadame. xx
    http://www.creamstop.com

    Reply

  14. Tricia @ Saving room for dessert on March 24, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Oh yes – dangerously delicious! This is a beautiful load and it would not last long at my house either. Bravo!

    Reply

  15. marcie on March 24, 2014 at 11:16 am

    I love homemade bread so much, and my goal is to master it this year. There’s just nothing like the smell as it bakes, and how comforting a nice, warm slice is. :) Ciabatta is one of my favorite breads, and yours looks fantastic!

    Reply

  16. Cate @ Chez CateyLou on March 24, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Nothing is better than freshly baked bread! I absolutely love baking bread and am always looking for a new recipe. This ciabatta looks amazing !! Pinning this and can’t wait to try it out!

    Reply

  17. Zainab @ Blahnik Baker on March 24, 2014 at 11:38 am

    What a beautiful loaf!! I wish I could make such a wonderful bread. This looks amazing. I bet smells so good too :)

    Reply

  18. Harvey Morris on March 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Love ciabatta rolls and can’t always find them at the super market bakery. I can’t wait to try this recipe.

    Reply

  19. Cynthia on March 24, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Hi, can this be made with soy milk to make it vegan??

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 24th, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      Hi Cynthia, I’m not sure how a soy milk would affect the recipe, if at all. If you give it a try, please let me know how it turns out!

      Reply

    • Katie on November 17th, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      Or you could be healthy and use actual milk. Being a vegan isn’t healthy at all. Quit spreading around all this vegan crap. Most animals are meant to be eaten. It’s the way humans were designed. You cannot survive without protein. Jesus Christ.

      Reply

      • Dr AD Smith on November 19th, 2014 at 11:41 am

        This is probably the most ignorant comment I have ever read. Educate yourself, please.

        Reply

  20. Sandy Headtke on March 24, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    So glad this takes AP flour, I have all the ingredients on hand. Bread and butter for dinner tomorrow.

    Reply

    • Sandy Headtke on March 26th, 2014 at 1:39 am

      This bread is very good. It took time, but is so worth it. I let the sponge sit 24 hours. This recipe is a keeper.

      Reply

  21. Laura (Tutti Dolci) on March 24, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    I love ciabatta, such a gorgeous bread!

    Reply

  22. Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts on March 24, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I absolutely love homemade bread. This looks SO perfect!!

    Reply

  23. Sammi @Sammi Sunshine on March 24, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    You have a love affair with homemade bread, and I have a love/hate relationship with homemade bread! I will make a batch of homemade bread and it’s a success, then I will try my hand at making a different type of homemade bread, and it’s a huge fail! I don’t know why this happens to me!
    Peace & Sunshine,
    Sammi at Sammi Sunshine- A Food Blog

    Reply

    • Kerry on April 1st, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Have you tried Alton Brown’s “Very Basic Bread” recipe? I’ve been using that for years and haven’t had an issue. Definitely one of those that you need to start overnight, but it’s so worth it!

      Humidity and freshness of yeast and flour can also play a role. Science Friday (on NPR) recently had in someone from America’s Test Kitchen and he talked a lot about the science behind bread: http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/03/21/2014/food-failures-knead-to-know-science-behind-bread.html

      Reply

  24. Elizabeth on March 24, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    I was just thinking that I was in the mood for some homemade baked bread. I love ciabatta bread so I’m definitely trying this one!

    Reply

  25. Angela M on March 24, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    i only have active dry yeast is that ok??

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 25th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Angela, Active dry yeast typically needs to be activated by warm water or milk before being added to the rest of the ingredients. You may also find that your rise times are longer (up to twice as long). I stock both instant and active dry, as I have recipes that call for one or the other. I would keep both on hand and use whichever the recipes calls for.

      Reply

  26. Tieghan Gerard on March 24, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    This look PERFECT!! Good gosh, I need this. Great recipe and photos!

    Reply

  27. Annamaria @ Bakewell Junction on March 25, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Michelle,
    I love ciabatta bread. Yours looks perfect. Pinned.
    Annamaria

    Reply

  28. Chau on March 26, 2014 at 2:20 am

    I just made two loaves of these ciabatta bread today, and I have to say, they were absolutely delicious! I only had active dry yeast on hand, so all I changed from the recipe was to proof the dough in each step longer, until the desired size is reached. Besides homemade hamburger buns, I’ve never had much success with homemade bread until now. Thank you for posting such a lovely recipe! :)

    Reply

  29. Denise P. on March 26, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Just took the loaves out of the oven an hour ago. Came out perfect. This is the best ciabatta bread I have ever had. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Reply

  30. Averie @ Averie Cooks on March 29, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Wow this is just perfect! Thanks for relinking in your last post…somehow missed this! pinned now

    Reply

  31. Laura Dembowski on March 29, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I love baking bread too but I definitely need to do it more often. I can’t believe how easy this is to make!

    Reply

  32. Kimberly on March 30, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Made the sponge today and ran out of time to finish the bread. How long will the sponge keep? Should I refrigerate it?

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 31st, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Hi Kimberly, You can keep the sponge at room temperature for up to 24 hours. After that, I don’t recommend using it.

      Reply

  33. Kerry on March 30, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I’ve made a lot of homemade bread before (baguettes, sandwich bread, bagels, pizza dough, soft pretzels…etc.) but I’ve never tried making ciabatta. My two loaves are in the oven now–they smell fantastic. Can’t wait to slice some up with some salted butter. Mmm! :)

    Reply

  34. JanetFCTC on March 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    That is one of the prettiest loaves of Ciabatta I’ve seen! I make bread often but haven’t tried Ciabatta yet. It is now next on my list.

    Reply

  35. Kellie on March 31, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Jumped up and started the sponge as soon as I saw this recipe this morning on Pinterest! Was approx 1/8 C shy of the 1 cup of all purpose flour so I combined white whole wheat flour to make up the difference. Much coarser texture to the flour. Hope it turns out! Whole wheat pastry flour is a staple in my pantry but I’m that also! Just couldn’t wait to try you’re recipe. Thanks for posting!

    Reply

    • Kellie on April 10th, 2014 at 8:01 am

      This has been the most fun I’ve ever had making any type of bread. The 1/8 Cup of whole wheat I used a a substitute didn’t affect the finished product at all. Baked 6 loaves in total so far and gave 2 away with rave reviews! Thanks again!

      Reply

  36. KMunoz on April 2, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    This looks delicious! Any suggestions on making the dough by hand if you don’t have a mixer?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 7th, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      I haven’t tried it, but you could use a wooden spoon to mix. It’s a quite sticky dough so kneading may be difficult by hand.

      Reply

  37. John on April 8, 2014 at 7:36 am

    I have a sourdough starter that I used to make a biga for this. Wow! Used this, Carol Fields, and Nancy Silverton recipes to bake two great loaves! Thanks for feeding my baking addiction.

    Reply

  38. Natalie on April 14, 2014 at 4:33 am

    i just made this bread. (yup, it’s 1am). its cooling on my cutting board, and smells delicious…. can’t wait to dig in tomorrow morning! thanks for posting!!

    Reply

    • Natalie on April 21st, 2014 at 12:49 am

      i just made this again… it was TOO good the 1st time! it’s definitely a keeper recipe!

      I’ve never made bread before these two times…. can i sub in whole wheat flour to make it a little healthier? if so, would it be cup for cup? curious…

      thanks!

      Reply

      • Michelle on April 21st, 2014 at 1:16 pm

        Hi Natalie, Yay, so thrilled that you’re enjoying this bread! I have not tried any whole wheat flour substitutions in this recipe, so unfortunately I can’t say for sure how it would affect the recipe.

        Reply

  39. Shari Barnes on April 17, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Can I freeze this bread and for how long?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 17th, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Shari, Yes, that’s included in the storage instructions in step #9.

      Reply

  40. Tammy W. on April 21, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I’ve made this recipe three times and each time was a great succes. Previously, all attempts at bread making had been a fail. I just pulled the last two loaves out of the oven and can hardly wait for dinner tomorrow. I’m up late baking because I forgot about the sponge until 10:00 pm, and I won’t get the chance tomorrow. Love your blog!

    Reply

  41. Keith Fullerton on May 7, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    I followed this recipe to the letter and it turned out wonderful. Nice crumb, great taste and crust.
    I have been baking bread for many years with many successes and fails. The hardest part of making bread is timing the risings. Your instructions are so good that they make this easy. As you can tell by the comments, even first timers can be successful.
    I think I will try bread flour next time with a little more gluten.
    Thanks.

    Reply

  42. Stephanie on May 9, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    So delicious! I only had to bake it for 15 minutes before it was golden brown and I think it may have been way overcooked if I hadn’t kept an eye on it. But such is baking, right? I also didn’t flatten it for the last time, so I ended up with a nice round loaf. Will definitely be making this again.

    Reply

  43. Tykisha Pulliam on June 2, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    I’ve always love Ciabatta but was terrified to make it, especially since I’ve heard that it’s a soft, sticky dough to work with. But after reading the recipe on your website, I decided to give it a try. I made the sponge yesterday and complete the loaves today. They turned out wonderfully. I don’t have a baking/pizza stone so I used a standard baking sheet instead and it still turned out great. I am no longer intimidated by Ciabatta…Thank you!

    Reply

  44. Stephanie on June 19, 2014 at 1:35 am

    This is the second time I’ve made this recipe. It is so good! I have also used just a baking sheet and they turned out wonderfully!

    Reply

  45. Nova on June 25, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Very long process took more than an hour to double in bulk and the process of 30 minute rising is very tedious. Still not in the oven yet and has taken all day. Not for those who want bread in a hurry.

    Reply

  46. Julia Bell on August 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Can this be made in a food processor? If so, how would the mixing/kneading times change?

    I saw the recommendation to use a wooden spoon to mix by hand – has anyone tried that?

    (I don’t have a stand mixer.)

    Reply

    • Michelle on August 3rd, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      Hi Julia, I would probably do this by hand before using a food processor, as I think it would be too easy to over mix the dough using a food processor.

      Reply

  47. Christy Wagner on November 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    i made these today….YUMMY! Thanks for a fantastic recipe! Word of caution! I tried to save a step and placed the loaves on the parchment paper before the final fold, but I didn’t dust them with flour. They stuck to the paper so I couldn’t do the final fold (in thirds). Next time I’ll follow the recipe STEP-BY-STEP! That’s what I get for improvising! Can’t wait to make these again and try some of the other breads on your blog. One question: I’d like to make small sandwich-sized loaves next time instead of two loaves. How long would I bake them, or will the baking time even be reduced at all? Thanks again!

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 10th, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Hi Christy, So glad you loved the bread! I haven’t tried making smaller loaves, so I couldn’t say about the baking time, unfortunately.

      Reply

  48. Dirk on November 16, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Dear Michelle
    Thank you very much for this recipe! I have never baked bread before and have always wanted to learn how to bake ciabatta, which my family love. Your clear, simple and effective recipe made it possible for me. We have just enjoyed one of my first two loaves of ciabatta baked using your recipe and we absolutely loved it!

    Reply

  49. Allison on December 6, 2014 at 7:54 am

    And what if I don’t have a stand mixer?

    Reply

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