Skip to main content

Authentic Ciabatta Bread

Authentic Ciabatta Bread
Make authentic ciabatta bread at home with this recipe! Ciabatta bread is a classic Italian style bread that translates to mean “slipper bread” due to the shape of the loaves. Ciabatta is a chewy and uniquely moist bread made with a preferment called a biga, which greatly enhances the flavor of the bread.



Biga (preferment)

  • 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (165g) bread flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (133g) water (room temperature)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Platinum Yeast
  • Pinch of salt


  • Biga
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (180g) water (room temperature)
  • 2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (250g) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon (3g) Platinum Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) kosher salt
  • Cornmeal or semolina for dusting


  • Make the biga: At least 12 and up to 24 hours before making your ciabatta, make the biga. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the biga and stir together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  • Make the dough: Add the dough of the ingredients into the bowl with the biga. Stir until well combined. It will appear as if there is not enough liquid at first, but as you work it together it will become a very wet and sticky dough. You may need to use your hands to knead it slightly to hydrate all the flour. As soon as all of the flour is hydrated with no dry spots, cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and let it set at room temperature for 45 minutes.
  • Stretch and fold: After the dough has rested for 45 minutes, you will do a series of three stretch and folds with the dough. With the dough still in the bowl, lightly dampen your hand (this will prevent the dough from sticking) and pull on one side of the dough and stretch it up and then fold it down over the top of the dough. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and do the same with the next side. Do this again until you have stretched all four sides of the dough up and over on itself. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 45 more minutes. Stretch and fold the dough for the second round. Cover and let rest for 45 more minutes. Stretch and fold for the third round. Cover the dough and let it rest for 45 more minutes. This is a three hour process from when the dough is mixed to when it is ready to be shaped – a total of four 45 minute resting periods with three stretch and folds in between.
  • Prepare oven and pans: During the final resting period, prep pans and oven. Position one oven rack in the very bottom position in the oven and another rack in the middle position. Place a cast iron skillet or another oven-safe skillet on the bottom rack and a baking stone, baking steal, or a sheet pan turned upside down on the middle rack. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). You want the oven and pans to be heating for at least an hour before the bread goes into the oven. Additionally, prepare a pizza peel or an unrimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper sprinkled lightly with semolina or cornmeal.
  • Shape the ciabatta: Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. It will be very wet and sticky. Use a damp bench scraper to scrape the dough out of the bowl. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Dampen your hands and then pick up one piece of the dough and place it on the prepared parchment paper. Stretch and pat out the dough to a flat rectangle shape. It will be very sticky but wet hands work best to shape it. It can be a rustic shape. Repeat this step with the second piece of dough. (Alternatively you can shape all of the dough into one big loaf.)
  • Lightly flour the top of the loaves and then cover with a floured towel. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
  • Fill a small bowl with about 2 cups of ice cubes. Work quickly and carefully when transferring the ciabatta. Open the oven and carefully & gently slide the whole piece of parchment paper with the ciabatta onto the preheated baking stone or sheet pan. Quickly pour the ice cubes into the preheated skillet and immediately shut the oven door (this will create steam). Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the ciabatta loaves are a light golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  • Allow the ciabatta to cool on wire rack before slicing. This will completely develop the flavor. Ciabatta is best when eaten the same day. However, leftover ciabatta can be wrapped in foil once completely cooled and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.


Recipe by Baker Bettie.

Did you make this recipe?

We want to see it! Tag @redstaryeast and use hashtag #redstaryeast

Review & Comments

Rose | Reply

Can you use all purpose flour instead?

Red Star Yeast | Reply

Hi Rose – Bread flour is recommended for this recipe to achieve the chewy texture and desired structure of the bread.
Happy baking!

Susie CA | Reply

Can you make this into a round boule? I like using my Dutch oven.

Red Star Yeast | Reply

Hi Susie – You can certainly give it a try. Let us know how it turns out!
Happy baking!

Robert Harrington | Reply

5 stars
Yes, this ciabatta recipe can easily be made into a rustic artisan boule. This is usually (and most easily) accomplished by preheating a dutch oven and lid inside your oven while it is preheating.
When the dough is ready and still on it’s parchment paper:
1) QUICKLY open the oven door.
2) Using pot holders or oven mits, remove the dutch oven to the top of the stove and CLOSE that oven door.
>> Have your boule ready – this all goes quickly. Be careful not to get burned!
3) Remove the lid from the dutch oven.
4) Gather all four corners of the parchment holding your dough.
5) Place the parchment and dough down in the center of the dutch oven, and don’t take the time to be fussy.
6) Put the lid back on, return to the oven, and close the door before much hear is lost.
7) The baking time should be about 30 to 35 minutes. Then reach in quickly, remove the lid close the door ald allow to bake, browning the top, for another 10 to 15 minutes.
At the end of the baking process, remove the dutch oven and remove your boule to a wire rack. Allow it to completely cool before cutting.
Not only is this an exceptional ITALIAN bread, is is also an outstanding “SOP” bread to soak up liquids in soups, strews and gravys. Don’t forget to try some with a spaghetti dinner!

Christina Maria | Reply

5 stars
Great recipe. I do not measure exactly when making bread. I prefer to feel the texture of the dough. I tried out the biga, stayed close to the recipe and the bread is wonderful. The instructions are especially clear and helpful. I think it’s the biga and the instructions for the 45 minute resting periods. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Made the recipe? Rate it!