Ciabatta (Italian “Slipper” Bread)

March 22, 2020
Ciabatta updated

Ciabatta is a traditional Italian bread that is flat and elongated – much like a slipper.

When you make this bread, keep in mind that the dough is wet and very sticky. The key to manipulating it is working quickly and gently; rough handling will result in flat tough loaves.  When possible, use a large rubber spatula or bowl scraper to move the dough. 

If you have to use your hands, make sure hey are well-floured. Because the dough is so sticky, it must be prepared in a stand mixer. 

If you don’t have a baking stone, bake the bread on an overturned and preheated rimmed baking sheet set on the lowest oven rack.


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By Marianne de Leon Serves: 12
Prep Time: 1 hour Cooking Time: 25 Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes + 8 hours for the sponge

Ciabatta is a traditional Italian bread that's somewhat flat and elongated. When you make this bread, keep in mind that the dough is wet and very sticky.


  • Sponge:
  • 200 grams water
  • 200 grams bread flour
  • 7 grams instant yeast
  • Dough:
  • 350 grams bread flour
  • 240 grams water
  • 3 grams yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon bread improver (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon olive oil - for oiling the bowl


For the Sponge:


Combine flour, yeast and water in medium bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms, about 1 minute.


Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

For the Dough:


Place sponge in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.


Add the yeast, water, salt, bread improver and bread flour.


Mix at the lowest speed for 1 minute.


Put the speed up to the next level and continue to mix for another 1 minute.


Then put the speed up to the next level and continue to beat with the paddle for 4 minutes.


You will see that the dough, although very sticky, will start to detach from the sides of the bowl.


At this point get a very wide mouthed bowl, about 12 - 14 cup capacity, and spread the olive oil all over the bowl.


Place the dough inside the bowl, and then flip, to oil the top too, and cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap.


Let the dough rise for 45 minutes.


Wet your hands with warm water to prevent the high hydration dough from sticking to your hands when you flip the dough.


Using the bowl itself to flip the dough, get one part of the dough and try to tuck it on top of the main dough.


Move to the next part of the dough and do the same thing till you have done the full round of the dough.


Return the cover and let rise for another 45 minutes. (This is the second rise).


After the 45 minutes have passed, get the bowl with the dough, and do the same.


Making sure your hands are wet with warm water.


After the 3rd rise of the dough, flour very well your table top.


Very gently, and not so high, turn the bowl over. You do not want to burst the bubbles that have developed on the top of the dough.


Dust very generously the top of the dough.


Using your good judgement on size, with a dough cutter, cut the dough into two equal parts.


Try to use the dough cutter to sort of shape the dough into a rectangular shape.


Get a rectangular 14-inch by 10-inch by 2-inch pan.


Make two rectangular-shaped parcels, using parchment paper, to house the shaped dough.


Gently lift the dough into one of the parcels and also the next one. They should be side by side.


Cover them with a tea towel and let rise for another 15 minutes.


When the 15 minutes are up, light up the oven to 200ºC (392º F)


Place another pan on the bottom of the oven, half filled with water; to be able to create steam to make the bread crunchy.


Now before placing the dough inside the oven, give it a good spray of water; then start baking the Ciabatta.


Bake for 10 minutes; then open the oven and reverse the tray.


Continue to bake for another 10 minutes.


Remove from the oven and place on top of cooling rack; remove parchment paper, and cool for about ½ hour.


Slice and serve.


  • Cooled bread can be wrapped in double layer of plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  • Wrapped with additional layer of aluminum foil, bread can be frozen for up to 1 month.
  • To re-crisp crust, thaw bread at room temperature, if frozen, and place unwrapped bread in 450ºF (232ºC) oven for 6 to 8 minutes.

Recipe updated on March 27, 2020 and on June 17, 2020 with new photo.

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