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Ciabatta Bread Recipe

We find a Ciabatta bread recipe in almost every region of Italy, and with many variations. When its made with whole wheat flour, the Italians call it ciabatta integrale. In Rome, bakers season this bread with olive oil, salt and marjoram. When they add milk to the dough, its called ciabatta latte.

In North America, we often use this popular bread as sandwich bread.

Trivia: Ciabatta is the Italian word for slipper.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe #1 (with sourdough)

1 tbsp Active dry yeast
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp salt
6 - 8 cup flour, unbleached

Dissolve the yeast in the starter and water. Let sit for 10 minutes

Add the milk, olive oil and salt. Stir in the flour, adding a cup at a time until you have a dough the consistency of drop-cookie batter. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it 10 to 15 minutes, adding more flour as needed until you have a dough that is smooth and satiny. The dough should be on the slack side but not oozy; it needs to hold its shape in the oven.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Place bowl in a warm spot and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Punch down dough to expel air bubbles and turn it onto a lightly floured counter. Knead dough gently and divide it into three pieces. Form the loaves into torpedo shapes and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Slash tops of loaves and cover them with a damp towel.

Let loaves rise until they look swollen, about 30 minutes. While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 425° F.

Brush or spray loaves with water. Bake for 10 minutes, brushing or spraying the loaves with water two more times. Turn the oven to 375° F and bake your ciabatta bread recipe for 25 more minutes.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe #2

Tip: If you can find it, fresh yeast does a better job than dry yeast with this ciabatta bread recipe.

4 3/4 cup white flour
2 cakes compressed fresh -yeast -- (0.6 oz each)
1 3/4 cup cold tap water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Kosher Sea Salt) or flaked sea -salt

-- 2 baking sheets; heavily -floured

Put 3,1/4 cups of the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour. Crumble the fresh yeast into a small bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup of the water until smooth. Pour the yeast mixture into the well in the flour. Then add the remaining water to the well and mix. Mix the flour from the bowl into the yeast mixture in the well with your hand or a wooden spoon to make a very sticky batterlike dough. Using your hand, beat the mixture for 5 minutes until very elastic.

Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and let rise at room temperature, away from drafts, for 4 hours until it rises and collapses. The dough will rise up enormously, so check that it does not stick to the dish towel.

Punch down the dough of your ciabatta bread recipe. Add the oil and salt to the dough and mix briefly with your hand. Then gradually work the rest of the flour in the bowl into the dough with your hand to make a soft, quite sticky dough. When all the dough is smooth and the flour has been thoroughly combined, cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and let rise at room temperature, away from drafts, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Using a very sharp knife, divide the dough in half, disturbing the dough as little as possible. Do not punch it down or try to knead or shape the dough at all. Tip a portion of the dough onto each prepared baking sheet, nudging it with a spatula, to form 2 rough-looking rectangular loaves, about 1 inch thick. Sprinkle the loaves with flour and let rise, uncovered at room temperature, away from drafts, until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour. During the last 15 min. of rising, heat the oven to 425°F.

Bake the loaves for about 35 minutes, or until they are browned and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Transfer the loaves to wire racks until lukewarm, and then serve. Or, eat within 24 hours, gently warmed.

Freeze this ciabatta bread recipe for up to one week only.

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