Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ciabatta bread

I longed for the luxurious fragrance of freshly baked bread emanating from my kitchen. It had been so long (a couple weeks) since my fingers worked with bread dough and they were aching to knead something other than Mr. Incredible's back. I decided on Ciabatta bread because it would be perfect for sandwiches I planned on making for lunch. Sliced, still warm from the oven, smeared with glistening butter melting and saturating every crevice of this honey combed textured bread sounded like a delectable treat. (I'm trying to use more adjectives in this post. How am I doing?)

Mini lesson...ready? Ciabatta, pronounced /cha-bah-tah/, is an Italian white bread that is elongated, broad and flat. It's name, meaning "slipper" in Italian, is a reference to its shape which kind of resembles a slipper. When made well, ciabatta bread has a moist, holey crumb and a crackly, crisp crust.

Many of ciabatta recipes begin with a poolish (pronounced pool-eesh, accent on the second syllable). A poolish is a pre-mixed “starter” of flour, water and a touch of yeast. It is mixed a few hours before the remainder of the ingredients. It's said to give the bread a better texture and flavor. 

The recipe I'll be sharing today does not use a poolish. This means I'll have ciabatta in my belly in less than 3 hours rather than 2-3 days. 

Mini lesson over. Let's bake some bread!

Ciabatta Bread (adapted from this recipe)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Follow directions!

Mix water, sugar and yeast in a bowl. Let sit until creamy. Mix flour and salt together. Add yeast mixture and oil to the flour. Using a mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix/knead for 5 minutes.

Dough will be extremely wet. Refrain from adding more flour. Refrain yourself! Scrape dough into a well greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise until doubled in size (1.5-2 hours). Because the dough is extremely sticky, you'll want to flour your work surface generously.

Scrape dough onto the work surface and cut in half. Be gentle with the dough at this point. You don't want to push out all the air. Tear off 2 pieces of parchment paper.

Gently transfer the dough onto one of the papers and stretch out into a rectangle. Using your fingertips, create dimples all over the surface of the dough (I was so busy loving on my dough that I forgot to do this part! It's supposed to help create all those large holes throughout the bread). Repeat with other half of dough. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place bread and parchment paper (either on a baking sheet or pizza stone) in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until bread is golden. 

Let cool before slicing and using for sandwiches. 

There's a little surprise in this sandwich.
A fried egg! Yum yum.


  1. WOW! That's absolutely wonderful! I'm drooling! Have to give this one a try!

  2. Your ciabatta looks perfect--great job! I'm still a bit intimidated by kneading bread but you don't seem to have this trouble at all. I love fried egg sandwiches, too, by the way!

  3. Hi Renata and thank you :)

    Thanks Jean :) Kneading is so much easier when you have a mixer to do all the "kneading" for you!

  4. I make a ton of everyday whole wheat bread, but have only made artisan type bread a few times. This looks like a good simple recipe to start with! Have you ever tried using part wheat flour?

  5. Hi Kelli, no I haven't tried using wheat flour, but like you said, maybe if you used half wheat and half bread flour it would turn out just fine. And a bit more healthy ;)

  6. I love ciabatta! Always wanted to make it, but all that time and waiting with making poolish is offputting. Glad there's a way around it.

  7. Oh my gosh! So yummy! I love ciabatta bread! - I can't imagine making my own. Maybe this will have to be tried in my kitchen soon :)

  8. Hey I know this may sound a little silly but do you preheat the oven with the pizza stone in the oven?

  9. Hi there, that's not a silly question! Yes you do want to preheat the oven with the pizza stone in there. This will gradually heat the stone to the right temperature. You want it as hot as possible :)

  10. Oooo..Süper.Ellerine sağlık,sevgilerrr...

  11. just a question!!!
    my bread ALWAYS comes out rock hard on the outside, and sometimes it isnt cooked on the inside :( any idea what's the problem?

    well i dont have a mixer.. am wondering if my kneading was the problem >_> oh and if the dough doesnt double in size.. what would you do with it..? any way to salvage it? ._.

    1. Hi Beansproutbun (cute name), first make sure that your yeast is not expired. If your dough isn't rising this might be the problem.

      If the dough is not doubling in size, then insufficient kneading maybe the issue. Kneading develops the gluten which is important because it adds strength and texture to your dough. Carbon dioxide is formed when the dough rises and it is captured within the dough creating air pockets. We want the dough to have these air pockets because it creates a light and airy loaf in the end. If the dough isn't kneaded enough, it won't have the strength to hold the air pockets. Does that make sense?

      To know when you've kneaded enough, may I suggest this lovely youtube video which explains the window pane test for bread making.


      I hope this helps. Please try again and let me know how it turns out!


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