Ciabatta Bread tastes fantastic and boasts an interesting texture, but it is a challenge for the home baker. If you are a confident bread baker, I wrote How to Make Ciabatta with a Bread Machine just for you.
Here’s an idea for the next rainy or wintry day that comes your way. Try making Ciabatta bread in your bread machine. But beware! It will be hard to stop until you produce a perfectly hole-y loaf.
My obsession with Ciabatta and the British Baking Show series:
Have you seen the British Baking Show on PBS or Netflix? After a friend at church told me about it, I was binge-watching within 24 hours. In one of the first episodes, Paul Hollywood picked Ciabatta as the “Baker’s Challenge”. When questioned about his choice, he told Mary Berry, “because it is so hard.”
I took the challenge personally and henceforth, pulled out my bread machine along with several recipe books. After I perfected the recipe, I had to figure out a way to shape the loaves without losing my mind over all the messy dough stuck to my fingers.
As you can see in the video below, the dough doesn’t “stick and pull away from the side of the pan” like normal bread dough. On the other hand, it should not level out like cake batter, either. The dough should stick to the sides but still maintain some shape as it kneads.
A companion show to the British Baking competition is the Masterclass where the two judges show exactly how to make the recipes they assign as challenges. Paul makes the ciabatta in Masterclass 2 of Season 1. I watched it more times than I can count.
The Secret to Success in Shaping Ciabatta:
In my opinion, Paul Hollywood’s method of shaping the dough is genius. For example, a well-greased square or rectangle-shaped plastic container is used to contain the dough while it proofs.
When ready to shape, the dough is slowly and patiently dumped onto a well-floured surface. Because it is already in a rough square/rectangle shape, it only has to be cut in half with each long half rolled about a quarter of a turn away from the other loaf. Finally, with well-floured hands, pick up each half of the dough and gingerly but quickly transfer it to a prepared cookie sheet.
The secret to success with this process is “well-floured” and “well-greased.”
Is this bread really worth the trouble? I think so. The yeasty flavors are well-developed and extremely tasty not to mention the chewy texture and tender but crispy crust.
How to Make Ciabatta with a Bread Machine:
Kitchen Secrets regarding Ciabatta:
- Paul Hollywood from the British Baking Show emphasized the baker should never try to rush the proofing or rising time. This suggests you should only add cold water and cold milk to this recipe.
- Let the dough rise at room temperature–not in a warm humid place. The longer it takes to rise, the better the flavor.
- This recipe involves a biga–a water and flour mixture with a small amount of yeast that needs to incubate from 12-24 hours. With that in mind, you must start the day before you want to eat your Ciabatta. If plans change, you can always refrigerate the biga after the first 12-24 hours, then use it sometime in the next 3-4 days.
Because ciabatta starts life as a very slack and sticky dough, the bread machine is a useful tool to mix and knead the dough.
- 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1/2 cup cool water
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon bread machine yeast
- Flour and/or semolina for flouring the board, your hands and the baking sheet you will be using for the bread
Mixing the Biga
- Make biga (the first 3 ingredients listed above) at least 12 hours ahead of time. This is a sort of “starter” that will contribute flavor and great texture to your bread.
- Combine yeast, water, and flour in bread machine or another container. You may need to use a small spatula to scrape flour in the corners into the mixture. Turn off machine (or unplug) and let sit for 12-24 hours.
- (Note: If not using the biga within 24 hours, place the foamy mixture into the refrigerator where it will keep for 3-4 days and only get better. Allow the biga to come to room temperature before proceeding to the next step.)
Mixing the Ciabatta Dough
- When ready to mix Ciabatta dough, add all ingredients to your bread machine in order listed, starting with the biga. Select dough cycle and push start.
- When kneading stops, remove the pan from the machine. (Do not let dough finish the dough cycle as you normally would.) Dough should stick to the sides but still hold a loose shape.
Forming the Ciabatta Dough
- Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into your hands. Use your greasy hands to lightly grease every square inch of the inside of your 2-quart square or rectangular container and the inside of the lid.
- While your hands are still greasy, grab the sticky dough inside the bread machine pan and transfer it into the prepared plastic container. Flip the dough over so that all surfaces of dough are greased. Pour another teaspoon or two of olive oil around the edges of the dough so it will not stick to the sides as it proofs.
- Cover and allow dough to rise at room temperature. Don’t try to rush it. Let rise until almost tripled in size. If you are using a 2-quart container, it will be full.This could easily take 2 hours or more depending on the ambient temperature.
- When fully proofed, empty dough by slowly tipping the container upside down onto a very liberally-floured surface (I use a silicone baking sheet since it’s easy to throw into the dishwasher). The dough should be in the same general square or rectangular shape of the container it proofed in. DO NOT PAT THE DOUGH DOWN like you would normal bread dough.
- Sprinkle dough liberally with flour and/or semolina. Cut dough in half with a greased and floured bench knife and roll each loaf away from the other a quarter turn so that each loaf has two lines down the middle.
- With liberally-floured hands, carefully transfer cylinder of dough to a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper which has been sprinkled with flour and/or semolina (or cornmeal). Carefully straighten and clean up shape with your hands and a bench knife.
- Let loaves rest for about 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Bake at 425 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. For a crispier crust, spray the inside of the oven with a spray bottle of water 2 or 3 times in the first 5 minutes of baking.
- Serving Size: 1/6 of one loaf
- Calories: 127 kcal
- Sugar: .4 g
- Fat: .7 g
- Carbohydrates: 25.2 g
- Fiber: .9 g
- Protein: 4.4 g
Keywords: bread, how to, bread machine recipe, yeast bread