How To Make a Beautiful Ciabatta (Bread Machine) +Video

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Sneak Peek: This ciabatta recipe produces the traditional look and texture you love about this Italian bread, using a bread machine to mix and knead the dough. Check out the tips for shaping the sticky dough while barely touching it.

How to Make Ciabatta with a Bread Machine--sliced ciabatta on cutting boardPin

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Finding holes in my bread was never so satisfying. Whenever I take homemade ciabatta bread out of the oven, I can’t wait to slice it open. Lots of holes (with no huge tunnels) spell bread-making success in my book.

Four Reasons Why Making Ciabatta in a Bread Machine a Great Idea

  1. Wait! Did you say “out of the oven?” Yes. I always mix the dough in a bread maker, shape it by hand, and bake it in the oven. It’s the only way to get the traditional shape and crispy crust we love.
  2. Slack and flimsy ciabatta dough gives new meaning to the word “sticky.” The home baker may find it challenging to impossible. Call in your bread machine (paid link) for the rescue!
  3. During kneading, the dough will initially stick to the sides, then gradually detach, though not completely. It will smooth out and become shiny as gluten forms. It shouldn’t bounce against the sides, spin around the paddle post, or flatten like pancake batter. The dough will remain sticky but maintain some shape.
  4. Most recipes on this site can be made with a stand mixer instead of a bread machine. However, since this dough requires precise judgment during the kneading process, a task handled automatically by a bread machine, detailed instructions are not provided.

If you are confident in your bread-baking skills, this post is for you. However, if you are a newbie, you might try this recipe for Crusty French Bread. It’s much easier and the most popular bread recipe on this website.


Happy Bakers Speak Up

“I tried a few before, but this recipe always works.
Thank you.” —MARK


What is Ciabatta?

According to Wikipedia, the ciabatta was Italy’s answer to the French baguette. It is often an elongated loaf that bakes up relatively flat.

  • The texture is soft and chewy but light and open.
  • The crumb of a good ciabatta will be somewhat uneven and contain holes that are arranged irregularly throughout.
  • The crust should be crisp and chewy but not thick or tough. This is one reason I don’t bake a ciabatta in a bread machine. A bread machine doesn’t make a nice thin and crunchy crust.

Recipe Inspiration

Have you seen the British Baking Show on PBS or Netflix? After a friend at church told me about it, I binge-watched a lot of it 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.”

Those are fightin’ words.

I took the challenge and pulled out my bread machine and several recipe books.

A companion show to the British Baking competition is the Masterclass. The two judges show how to make the recipes they assign as challenges. Paul makes the Ciabatta in Masterclass 2 of Season 1. (So sorry, it looks like this video is no longer accessible.) I watched it more times than I can count.

First on the list was perfecting the recipe. Then, I had to figure out how to shape the loaves without losing my mind with the messy dough stuck to my fingers. I hope you find my instructions helpful.

The Secret To “Almost-No-Hands Shaping”

Paul Hollywood’s method of shaping the dough is genius. He proofs the dough in a well-greased rectangle-shaped plastic container.

After rising, dump the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Do it slowly and patiently. You can do all the manipulation from there with a well-floured bench knife.

The process is SO challenging to explain with words. See the pictures below or, better yet, the video.

***The secret to success with this process is “well-floured” and “well-greased.”

slices of ciabatta showing lots of holes and tunnels under a golden crustPin

Is this bread worth the trouble?

I think so. The yeasty flavors are well-developed and flavorful, the texture is chewy, and the crust is crusty but tender. Executing this bread successfully is high on my list of satisfying kitchen experiences.

Addendum as of 11/17/20: I’ve revised the recipe and video to demonstrate an additional foldover technique during the rising process. It helps to obtain a holey texture every time.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • YEAST:  No need to dissolve instant or bread machine yeast (same thing). I use instant yeast in all my bread-machine recipes.
  • WATER: If you have spring water in the house, use that. Otherwise, tap water is fine. It’s even better if you “de-chlorinate” that water. Let it sit in a pitcher or jar on your kitchen counter or jar for up to 24 hours to let the chlorine evaporate.
  • FLOUR: The recipe calls for all-purpose flour. Bread flour is a good substitute. Sometimes, I use all-purpose flour for the biga and bread flour when mixing up the dough. I’m indecisive that way.
  • MILK: Whatever milk you have on hand will work.
  • SALT: Use table salt or sea salt.
  • SEMOLINA: This is not an ingredient per se. Sprinkle semolina on the silicone mat where you shape the loaf to prevent sticking. I use this combined with a minimal amount of flour. Use flour alone or along with finely milled cornmeal as a substitute.
equipment suggestions for making this recipePin

Equipment You Will Need

  • BREAD MACHINE: I only use my bread machine for kneading the dough, so it doesn’t have to be fancy. How it bakes doesn’t matter because we will only use it for what it does best–kneading bread dough.
    • You could use a stand mixer for kneading Ciabatta dough, but I wouldn’t try to knead it by hand. It’s impossibly sticky.
  • DIGITAL SCALES: Measuring the flour precisely is important in any bread recipe. If you scoop it out with a measuring cup, you risk using too much. Your Ciabatta won’t turn out light and airy. See this post for the correct way to measure if you don’t have scales.
  • 3-QUART RECTANGULAR-SHAPED PLASTIC CONTAINER with LID:
    I got the one in the picture at the dollar store. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It’s the shape that counts.
    • What if you can’t find one? You can make a square container work, but you’ll have to get your well-greased hands into the sticky dough.
    • Stretch and reshape each half of the dough after you divide it with a bench scraper. The loaves should be long and skinny. While there’s nothing wrong with square and fat, both loaves might not fit onto one cookie sheet.
  • SILICONE BAKING MAT: A nonstick silicone mat is essential for making loaves with my “almost-no-touch” technique. If you don’t have a mat, try using parchment paper. But it may wrinkle up underneath the bread.
    • If you are shaping the loaves on a floured countertop or a large cutting board, move the loaves to a cookie sheet with a floured hand. That dough is sticky, man. You can find yourself in a mess before you know it.
  • BENCH SCRAPER: This is a key part of my strategy to avoid touching the dough. Spray the scraper with olive oil. If it sticks to the dough, spray it with more oil or sprinkle it with a little flour.
  • WATER SPRAY BOTTLE: If you want a crispy crust, spray the crust before you put the loaves in the oven. Spray once or twice again in the next five minutes.
    • Optional: Fill a pan with boiling water. Place it onto the bottom shelf of your oven before baking your Ciabatta.
  • RIMLESS BAKING TRAY: Slip a rimless baking tray or cookie sheet under the silicone baking sheet with the shaped bread on top. If all your cookie sheets have rims, turn one over and use the backside.
  • WIRE RACK: Transfer your baked loaves from the baking sheet onto a cooling or wire rack if you don’t want your crust to be soft and soggy on the bottom,

Four Secrets To Success with this Ciabatta Recipe

1. Use cool water and milk in this recipe, but never ice cold.

Bread recipes often call for warm liquids to hasten the proofing or rising. However, Paul Hollywood emphasized that one should not rush the process. In addition, the friction of the bread machine paddle with the dough will increase the temperature sufficiently.

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2. Let the dough rise at room temperature.

For the same reason as #1, don’t use that warm and humid spot where you usually proof bread dough. The longer it takes to rise, the better the flavor. If the dough rises too fast, it won’t be strong enough and will result in a flat loaf.

📌Kitchen Tip📌 When uncooked ciabatta loaves flatten out in the last rise, it’s a sign they may have risen too long the first time. Fold them lengthwise to make them double in height. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough again. Wait another 5-10 minutes, and then bake as usual.

3. Ciabatta must be started the day before you want to serve it.

This recipe involves a biga (aka pre-ferment). A biga is a water and flour mixture with a small amount of yeast added.

Incubate for 12-24 hours before adding the remaining ingredients. With that in mind, start this recipe the day before you want to eat your Ciabatta.

Refrigerate the biga after the first 12-24 hours if plans change. Then, use it within the next three days.

4. Use a thermometer to check the doneness of your bread.

The temperature should be around 200-210˚F (93-98˚C).

Some people claim they can tell by thumping the loaf on the bottom. They might be the same people who can pick the best watermelon at the store by thumping it. Not me. I need something more precise.

My favorite thermometer (paid link) is a little pricey, but I love its speed and accuracy. Or check out this popular and affordable thermometer (paid link).

How To Make Ciabatta Dough with a Bread Maker:

Heads up! LOTS of process pictures ahead.

I want you to be successful with this tricky bread. Let me know if you have questions as you go through the steps.

biga after it has developed overnightPin
Make the biga 12-24 hours ahead of time.

It should look bubbly like this when ready. (If plans change, scoop the biga out of the pan into a small bowl. Refrigerate it for up to three days so you can continue the process later.)

As the dough starts to mix in bread makerPin
Add the remaining ingredients and start the DOUGH cycle. As the dough begins to mix, it will be very sticky. Don’t add flour, even though it’s tempting. This recipe is different.
sticky ciabatta dough at the end of the dough cyclePin
When the kneading cycle is almost complete, the dough should be shiny and pull away from the sides. However, It will still be sticky to the touch.
dumping the dough from the bread machine pan to a greased plastic bowlPin
Lightly oil the inside of a rectangular-shaped 3-quart container (inside of the lid, too).

My 3-qt. container is a cheap plastic affair I picked up at the dollar store. When the machine finishes kneading, it will go quiet. Dump your dough into the greased container.
Do not let it finish the dough cycle in the machine.

turning dough to coat with oilPin
Use a greased spatula and turn the dough to coat the sides with oil.
First rise to double Pin
Cover. Set aside to rise for 1 hour or until dough doubles the original volume.
First foldover with greased spatulaPin
Use a greased spatula to lift the dough from each corner and pull it to the middle.
finished foldover--sits for 30 minutesPin
Do this gently so you don’t smash out any bubbles. (See video) Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
second foldover --sits another 30 minutesPin
Repeat the folding process. Cover and let rise again for 30 minutes.

How To Shape Bread Machine Ciabatta with the “Almost-No-Touch” Method

spray a bench scraper with olive oilPin
Use flour and semolina to cover a silicone baking mat. Spray or coat a bench scraper with oil.
Turning bowl upside down to dump dough onto floured surface.Pin
Turn the bowl holding the dough upside down onto the floured surface. Don’t use a spatula. Let the dough release on its own.
dividing the dough in two pieces with a bench scraperPin
Use a greased or floured bench scraper to cut the rectangle in half lengthwise.
shaping the loavesPin
Catch the edges with a bench scraper and pull the long edges over the top and toward the outer edge, which leaves more room between each loaf. (See the video.)
stretching and pulling the bread loavesPin
Stretch and shape loaves to the desired shape with a bench scraper and your well-floured hands.
using fingers to dimple loavesPin
Use fingertips to shape and dimple the loaves. Cover with a tea towel or oiled plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 450˚F (230˚C).

transferring loaves to a baking sheet.Pin
Transfer the silicone mats with the loaves on top to a rimless baking sheet.

Allow the dough to rise for 30-40 minutes until the dough gets puffy. Spritz the loaves with water and place them into a hot oven. Spray one or two more times in the first 5 minutes to ensure a crispy crust.

baking to 210˚F.Pin
Bread should register 210˚F on a quick-read thermometer (paid link) when done. Wait at least 1 hour before slicing.
Sliced ciabatta.Pin
Ciabatta tastes best after it cools for a complete hour. I know. It’s hard to wait.

FAQ About Bread Machine Ciabatta

Can I freeze ciabatta?

Yes. Double-wrap it with foil, plastic wrap, or plastic bags.

Can I bake this ciabatta bread recipe in my bread machine?

In my opinion, you cannot bake authentic ciabatta in a bread machine. The bread won’t have the characteristic shape or crust. In addition, the pre-programmed timing on a bread machine does not allow long enough to develop the flavor fully.

Is it OK to skip the biga?

The biga is essential to obtain the best flavor. You can store it for up to 3 days in the fridge if that helps.

What should I serve with ciabatta?

Use ciabatta for sandwiches or any time you would serve a baguette. Many people pair it with pasta like this Baked Spaghetti Casserole or soup. It makes a great dipping bread for gumbo or this Hearty Ham Stew with Beef and Bacon.

How long does ciabatta stay fresh?

Ciabatta is like a donut. Best eaten the same day it’s baked. What you don’t eat makes the best croutons the next day.


Parting thoughts: Even though I would consider Ciabatta an advanced bread-baking skill, the bread machine does the trickiest part for you. Mixing and kneading the dough with a bread machine instead of your hands makes this recipe doable!

If you enjoyed the challenge of making ciabatta with a bread machine, may I suggest you check my Classic Bread Machine Sourdough Bread with No Yeast, How To Make Hearty Rye Bread with Your Bread Machine, or this Crusty Round Bread Recipe for a Bread Machine. If you’re a beginner, start with 6 Bread Machine Secrets You Need To Know, and then try my most popular recipe for French Bread made in a bread machine.


Recipe Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

sliced bread machine ciabattaPin
Yield: 16 slices

Bread Machine Ciabatta Recipe

Because ciabatta starts life as a very slack and sticky dough, the bread machine is a useful tool to mix and knead the dough. Make the biga by adding the first three ingredients listed below to your bread machine at least 12 hours ahead of time. This is a sort of “starter” that will contribute flavor and a hole-y texture to your bread.

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Video

Prep time: 1 day
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 day 20 minutes

Ingredients
 

Biga-make the night before

  • teaspoon instant or bread machine yeast
  • ½ cup (114 g) water, cool
  • 1 cup (120 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

Ciabatta Dough

  • ½ cup (114 g) water, cool
  • ¼ cup (57 g) milk, cool
  • teaspoon table or sea salt
  • 2 cups (240 g) unbleached all-purpose flour (See notes about using bread flour.)
  • ½ teaspoon instant or bread machine yeast
  • flour or semolina for flouring the board and your hands

Instructions

Mixing the Biga

  • Combine ⅛ teaspoon instant or bread machine yeast, ½ cup (114 g) water, cool, and 1 cup (120 g) unbleached all-purpose flour in the bread machine pan. (Use another container if you don’t want to tie up your bread machine that long.) Select the DOUGH cycle and turn it on for about 5 minutes to mix the ingredients. Use a small spatula to scrape excess flour from the corners into the wet flour mixture. Turn off or unplug the machine and let sit for 12-24 hours.
  • If not using the biga within 24 hours, place the foamy mixture into the refrigerator. The flavor will only get better–up to 3-4 days. Allow the biga to come to room temperature before proceeding to the next step.

Mixing the Ciabatta dough

  • In the order listed, add ½ cup (114 g) water, cool, ¼ cup (57 g) milk, cool, 1½ teaspoon table or sea salt, 2 cups (240 g) unbleached all-purpose flour and ½ teaspoon instant or bread machine yeast to the biga in your bread machine.
  • Select the DOUGH cycle and push start. After 15-20 minutes, open the lid and check the dough. The dough should start to look shiny but will still be sticky. The dough will wind around the paddle(s). (See video.) If the dough is not sticking to the sides at all, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough looks more like a thick pancake batter, add extra flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If you have weighed your flour correctly, hopefully, no adjustments will be necessary.
  • When kneading stops, remove the pan from the machine. Do not let the DOUGH cycle finish as you normally would.
  • Lightly spray a 3-quart square or rectangular container with oil. Use a brush or your hand to coat the inside of the container.
  • Use a greased spatula to remove the sticky dough from the bread machine pan into a well-greased plastic container. Oil all surfaces of the dough by flipping the dough over with the spatula.
  • Cover and allow the dough to rise at room temperature. Don’t try to rush it. Let the dough rise until double. This make take an hour or longer if the room is cold.
  • Using a greased spatula, slip it underneath the dough in the corners and lift each corner and each side up and to the middle. This is better seen on the video. Be careful not to squash any bubbles. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat the previous step to lift the corners of the dough toward the middle. Again, let the dough rest for 30 minutes. This helps to ensure a holey texture

Shaping the Ciabatta Dough

  • Use flour or semolina for flouring the board and your hands. Empty dough by turning the container upside down onto a board or work 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 PUNCH THE DOUGH DOWN like you would normal bread dough.
  • Spray or coat a bench scraper (or large knife) with olive oil. Use it to divide the rectangle of dough in half longways.
  • Catch the long inner edges of each loaf with the oiled bench scraper and pull it up over the top about halfway and toward the outer edge. This leaves more room between each loaf. (This is quite challenging in the beginning, so don’t expect perfection the first few times.)
  • Now catch the outer edge of each loaf (the one that looks like it’s about to fall off the tray at this point) with the bench scraper. Again, pull it up over the loaf about halfway in the direction of the middle of the tray. (See the video.)
  • Straighten and clean up the shape with a bench knife. Use your well-greased or floured fingers (as if you were playing the piano) to dimple the surface of the dough.

Second Rise and Baking

  • If you are using a silicone mat, transfer or pull the mat with the shaped loaves onto a rimless baking sheet. (See video)
  • If you are not using a silicone mat, use liberally-floured hands to carefully transfer the two cylinders of dough to a prepared cookie sheet. (To prepare the baking sheet, cover the sheet with parchment paper. Or grease and sprinkle with flour and/or semolina or cornmeal.)
  • Cover the loaves so the dough won’t dry out and form a crust. You can also spray a large piece of plastic wrap with oil and cover the loaves with it.
  • Preheat oven to 450˚F (230˚C).
  • Let loaves rest for about 30-45 minutes or until they get puffy.
  • Spritz loaves with water using a spray bottle. Bake at 450˚ F (230˚C) for 18-20 minutes. Spray loaves one or two more times during the first 5 minutes of baking. Do it quickly so your oven won’t lose too much heat.
  • Loaves are done when the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 210˚F (98˚C).
  • Allow loaves to cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour before slicing.

Notes

Note about the flour (9/21/23): I have discovered that I prefer to substitute 1 cup of bread flour for 1 cup of all-purpose flour when mixing the dough. It seems to strengthen the dough as it rises, and I like the chewy texture it lends to the baked ciabatta.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 89kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 76mg | Potassium: 35mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a Jar.com

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94 Comments

  1. Debbie Graham says:

    5 stars
    This ciabatta bread was DELICIOUS!!!!!!!! I had to add more water because the dough wasn’t sticking to the side of the bread machine. Throughout the process, I thought I had no idea what I was doing, but it worked out because my husband and I ate all of it in one day.

  2. I’m pretty sure I messed up this bread. My measurements were fine, but still. Used bread flour and a little spelt instead of all-purpose. The dough ended up being less liquidy than it should be. At one point, my brother put something on top of the dough as it was resting in the fridge, and I was worried the air bubbles had been destroyed. Finally, the bread didn’t really get golden brown, except for the bottom. Took two days in total, from making the biga to slicing.

    But I gotta tell you: it is exactly what I wanted, and it is delicious. This is the kind of bread that I randomly decide to eat seven slices of at 2 am. It’s the perfect texture and sourdough-y taste from resting so long. I never leave reviews on recipes, though I do want to. But I was so surprised at how well this worked, I kinda had to. Thanks so much!

  3. Donna Sud says:

    I haven’t tried the ciabatta recipe yet, but I’m excited to since I always use my bread machine for making dough only. The one question I have is how to add roasted garlic or perhaps olives to it? At what point would you add them to the dough?

    1. Hi Donna,

      Those additions sound delicious. I would add them in the last five minutes of the kneading phase of the DOUGH cycle. Most machines have a beep for that. If you don’t want the olives mashed to a pulp, I would wait until the last minute of the kneading phase to add them.

      Can’t wait to hear how it turns out.

  4. 5 stars
    Hello Paula,
    The biga really imparts so much more flavour when left in the fridge for 2-3 days. I wonder would the entire ciabatta dough benefit from improved flavour by being kept in the fridge for 2-3 days as well, similar to a long fermentation for Neapolitan pizza dough, please? Thanks, cj

    1. Hi CJ,

      So nice to hear from you.

      I have never tried this, so I can’t say if it would work. Let me know if you do and how it works out.

  5. 5 stars
    Dear Paula,
    Thank you for your detailed recipe. I’ve used it many times now, always to great results. However, I would really love to watch the video you mention in this ciabatta recipe and I searched up and down and even looked through your replies to similar comments, and I have not found the video still, can’t see it at the end of the post in the recipe.. please put a link to the video at the top of the post right after the title, when you have a moment? Thank you so much. Have a good day.

    1. If the video doesn’t show up, it is usually because there is an ad-blocker on your browser. Perhaps you could try disabling it temporarily so you can watch the video.

  6. hi I’m in the UK, what measurements gr? You use it for milk , water etc
    Thanks

    1. I use grams for liquids so you can measure with a digital scale. It’s the most accurate.

  7. 5 stars
    I tried a few before, but this recipe always works.
    Thank you

  8. Jere Fritsche says:

    Hi Paula,
    There are many mentions of the (see video) in the recipe, but these are not active links to the video. At the end of the recipe it goes to your comment section..no high lighted link to the video.

    Jere
    PS your reply link does not work.

    1. Hi Jere,

      I have no “active links” to the video within the post. I moved the video up a little higher outside of the recipe, to make it easier for you to find. I’m sorry but I don’t have a reply link. Go to your email and send any questions to my email address if you need a quick response. I don’t link directly to my email for security purposes. Let me know if you still can’t find the video.

  9. Jere Fritsche says:

    I found your recipe for Ciabatta bread interesting but could not find the link to your video on making this bread.

    Jere

    1. Hi Jere, The video is inside the recipe at the bottom of the post. Hope you find it helpful.

  10. Nikki Noire says:

    5 stars
    I made this today and it was absolutely delicious. The instructions were very easy for me to follow. Will definitely be making this again.

    1. Glad to hear it, Nikki. It’s not the easiest bread in the world so I say, Congratulations!!

  11. 5 stars
    So I tried this recipe in my $7 thrift store bread maker. The best ciabatta I have ever made and better then some store bought ones. I followed instructions to the gram. Perfect bread

    1. Fantastic Dominick! Just proves you don’t need a fancy bread maker if you don’t try to use it for baking bread.

  12. Elli Keen says:

    I want to use this recipe for ciabatta rolls, any tips? Thanks!

    1. Hi Elli,

      I have tried making rolls, but I need to practice more before I give much advice. All I can say is to handle the dough as little as possible and make sure the rolls have risen enough before you bake them. Good luck!

  13. I’ve been making this bread recipe for about 5 months now with great results. I’ve even been adventurous, I thought the loafs are too small so I quite splitting it in two. I like the bigger size loaf, bakes up perfect every time. My last three loafs of Ciabatta have been rosemary and olive oil. I have added 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the bread machine at the start of the of the dough cycle. Great results, love every bite. Thanks for the bread machine recipes. Also love the basic white bread too.

    1. Thanks so much, Ken. I value all feedback, but yours is especially gratifying. I love your variations and will try them myself.

  14. 5 stars
    I must say that this is a wonderful recipe. I’ve made it just two times so far and LOVE it. Had never used a biga before and was hoping for something similar to a sour dough flavor. I left the biga sit in oven with light on for 24 hours then popped it into the fridge for two more days. Didn’t get the tang I was hoping for but the flavor of this ciabatta is as wonderful as the chew factor. No need to search further.
    THANK YOU Paula.

    1. Hi Brenda,

      Glad you liked the Ciabatta. You could try adding a little bit of sourdough discard if you want a more sour flavor. But that changes other things. Have fun experimenting.

  15. Hi may I know if this recipe needs a high protein flour? The protein content of the all purpose flour in my country is 9+% while bread flour is usually 13+% so not sure of that will work? Thanks.

    1. Hi Martha,
      The all-purpose flour I use is about 10-11% protein. Some people make ciabatta with a higher protein flour. You might try it both ways and see what works better for you.

  16. Hi there
    Any chance I can bake this in a loaf pan? I think the texture of ciabatta would be great for sandwiches.

    Would I use all of the dough? And bake it for the same time? Thank you.

    1. Hi CK,
      I’ve never tried it. I hope you will, and then let me know how it goes. The general rule about loaf pans is that the dough should fill your loaf pan about halfway. The rule can be bent depending on how high you expect the bread to rise. Whether or not you can use all of the dough will depend on the size of your loaf pan. Use a quick-read thermometer to determine the time. By that I mean, check the internal temperature to know when it is done. Good luck!

    2. @Paula,
      Turned out great. I did all the rising steps in the 9×5 loaf pan. For the final rise, I used the silicone mat to flip dough, added flour to the loaf pan and slipped the dough back in. I allowed it to rise for maybe for a full hour. It rose and had a nice dome going into the oven… It did loose the dome. It was about 3/4 the height of the pan and flat/even.

      I baked for 25 minutes using the quick temp to tell me when it was done. I sprayed with water per instructions.

      Family ate it in hours… Thank you.

      I think my next batch I may allow the final rise to be longer, but in the fridge… Maybe it will be slow and I can achieve the dome.

      1. I’m glad your family liked it. Makes all the trouble worth it. Right? Usually, a flat top means it was overproofed. Your idea to let it rise in the fridge might be a good solution.

  17. I am very interested in making your Ciabatta bread but I would like to ask a question first.
    My understanding is that US bread flour is not the same weight (volume) as Canadian bread flour. In which case would it be better to make the bread using the weights rather than by volume, as in cups/tsp etc., which I find easier to use.

    1. Hi Patrick,
      That is a good question! I would always default to measuring by weight. But here’s the thing. The humidity can make a difference, too. But I have good news. No matter how you measure or what the weather is doing, if you will check your dough in the bread machine as it kneads, you can adjust the moisture level on the fly. This is important to the whole process of making bread but is usually ignored by bread machine owners. Read more about it here.

  18. I have sourdough starter. Can I use that in place of making the biga and if so how much should I use in conjunction with the yeast? Starter has been nurtured for a long time and I thought might add flavor to the ciabatta. Fed it 12 hours ago and put in fridge. Anxious to try this recipe. Thank you.

    1. Hi Laurel,

      I have actually tried this myself, once, a few months ago. It didn’t work out so well. I still think it has possibilities, but I need to experiment more. So I can’t be much help. But I hope you try it and let me know how it goes. Keep notes so that if it turns out good, you can tell me how you did it. Good luck!

  19. The bread turned out great. I followed the recipe to the letter (weighted all in the ingredients)The proving time took quite a bit longer. I waited until the dough had doubled then did step 7 and repeated step 7. I just made one big loaf because the dough was a bit hard to handle. With a bit more practice I’ll do two loaves.

    1. Yes, the dough is challenging. But you already know the secret….practice!

  20. A few questions. I’ve started making my first loaf and I decided it a good idea to review the recipe and text in the article.

    Question 1: You state to use cool water and milk not warm yet in the recipe it states to use warm milk. Which is it?

    Question 2: I dimple my Focaccia bread but wouldn’t dimpling this bread disturb the bubbles?

    Question 3: I have a proof setting on my stove. Is it okay to use for this bread?

    1. @Kathy,

      Another observation – In the recipe you state to bake until it reaches a temperature of 210, but in the tips (#4) it states 190-200. Which is it?

      1. That’s what I did. The loaves were 208 and 207.

        It is delicious! The holes aren’t huge but my husband said it is delicious. I was afraid to manipulate it too much so maybe next time I will roll it on itself to make it a bit more rounded instead of wide. More baguette style.

    2. 1. I would use cool water and cool milk, especially in the summer. The amount of milk is so small, it really doesn’t matter if it is warm or cool.
      2. Dimpling the dough helps to even out the bubbles so you don’t have just a few very large bubbles and instead, have bubbles more evenly throughout.
      3. Kathy, the wonderful thing about Ciabatta is the amazing flavor. But doing anything to rush the proofing, such as a warmer ambient temperature will cut down the time required for the rise AND the flavor. I vote for flavor when it comes to Ciabatta so I can’t recommend the proof setting. (This is a wonderful feature I use all the time for bread, but not Ciabatta.)

  21. Where did you get your 3 quart rectangular container? I have been to 3 stores and the smallest I have found is a 5+ quart. I have a 3 quart round container and just wonder if this will work if I do my folds at 90 degree increments. I’ll use the 5 quart if need be and just lay it gently on it’s side then gently turn it over so the dough can gently roll out.
    I am trying my hand at this because my husband has try several different methods and hasn’t been happy with the lack of bubbles. His problem is he likes crust and air bubbles. He also wants to do the simplest method – no biga. Too much time he says. So, I’m trying this recipe to see if I can get his desired results.

    1. Kathy, I got the rectangular container at the dollar store. I highly recommend a rectangular or square container so that you don’t have to manipulate the dough so much. That stuff is super sticky. The less you have to touch it, the better. It could be bigger than 3-quarts, then do as you suggested about turning it out.

      I don’t know what to say about not making a biga. It only takes 3 minutes to throw it into your bread machine the night before and it makes ALLLLLL the difference. Ciabatta is not an easy bread for most home bakers to make. Unless you are a seasoned bread baker, I would not expect great results until you’ve made it several times. That’s why it is so satisfying to make a good loaf. It takes experience to learn to handle the slack and sticky dough without wrecking the texture. Good luck!

    2. @Paula,

      I did go back and read the whole article and saw the Dollar Store reference. I never think about the Dollar Store and there are 2 near my house. I bought 2, both are in the 5 quart range. I’ll check the Dollar Store tomorrow.
      I did let it just roll out gently and it seemed to work well. My husband is one of those who doesn’t want to take the time to take the extra effort. So, when he admitted mine was delicious I was a bit taken a back. I agree, the Biga makes all the difference. Gives it an almost sour dough flavor although it hasn’t sat that long. He will continue to make it his way and I will make it using this recipe.

      1. Fantastic news. I’m so glad it worked out for you. Thanks so much for reporting back.

  22. Mike Bastian says:

    Hi, Made a 2# loaf. 3 cups bread flour, 1cup 10 grain hot cereal mix, 1.5 cup milk @85F 4 tab butter soft cut in PCs 1/3 cup brown sugar. Used a Zoji BB-CEC20 on basic setting.
    Loaf was good however it collapsed onto itself. Help!
    Thank you

    1. Hi Mike,

      I’m assuming you were baking your bread in the bread machine, right? Did you add salt? No salt will cause this. Also, over proofing can cause it. Did you open the lid and check the dough as it was kneading to make sure it was the right consistency? Bread dough that is too wet will also do this.

      My advice? Use the machine for what it does best: mixing and kneading. Select the DOUGH cycle. Then remove the dough from the pan, shape it, let it rise one more time, then bake it in your oven. You will have a much better chance of getting a delicious AND beautiful loaf with a lovely crust.

  23. Jerry Kallan says:

    Should I turn off my “Pre-heat” feature on my breadmaker (Zoji) for both biga and dough? You seem to say don’t rush proofing or heating

    1. Hi Jerry,

      Here’s the deal. When you want to actually bake bread in your machine, it’s important that everything starts out at the same temperature so that the timing of the machine works right (hopefully). The “preheat” feature enables all ingredients to come to the same temperature. Since I never use my machine to bake, I don’t need it. If some ingredient isn’t quite warm enough, it will just take longer for it to rise. And that’s fine since I’m not proceeding to the next step until the dough has risen perfectly. In reality, if an ingredient is cold, I warm it before adding it to the bread machine pan. Saves time. I actually turned off the preheat feature as I was removing my machine from the box.

  24. Marian Locascio says:

    I watched the master class video of this with Paul Hollywood. I don’t remember Biga as part of it. Am I right?

    1. Marian,

      I didn’t borrow Paul’s recipe, only his technique for handling the dough and shaping it. I like my recipe better for a bread machine. (You are very perceptive.)

  25. Mo Duggan says:

    5 stars
    Thank you so much! I’ve tried and failed to make ciabatta so many times. First time with your recipe and I had a brilliant result.
    Thank you!!

  26. Andy Targett says:

    Hi, I’m sorry I cannot find a link to the video you refer to?

    1. Hi Andy,
      I’m so glad you wrote. If you are talking about the video featuring Paul Hollywood, I checked and it looks like it is no longer available for free. I have noted that in the post.

      If you are talking about my video, it comes up automatically. I’m checking into a way to have it show on demand. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention.

  27. I am in the process of trying this (at high altitude!) and notice the recipe states to use a 2 quart container but the pictures say to use a 3 quart container! Does it matter and which is better? Thank you

    1. Good catch, Jayne. The recipe should say 3-quart container. But it can be bigger. I like the 3-qt size because when the dough rises to the top, I know it’s ready. You could use a larger container but then dough would have some distance to fall before it hits your cookie sheet. Could be traumatic to the dough. :-).

      Thanks for writing to ask.

    2. @Paula, Ah excellent, thank you. One other question (so far). I can’t find the video mentioned. The pictures are wonderful and I am not sure I need it but the texture of the dough while kneading in the machine would be nice to see. Am I missing a link somehwere?

  28. Hi Paula,

    Nice web-site.

    Just a tip about baking bread in the bread machine and having a good result.

    When bread machines first came out the programmes were longer and included 2 rise then kneed slots, and no sit for an hour or so and do nothing at the beginning.

    Then some dumbo, go figure, decided that it was all taking far too long and wouldn’t 1 rise/kneed slot be better.

    After all you can mix and bake a cake all in one hit can’t you!

    And as for sitting the ingredients together at the start so they “equalise”, well any fool will tell you when you mix things together, they pretty soon are all the same temperature.

    So, after a good few year my faithful bread maker had to be replaced, and low and behold I was told that all bread makers now shared the same ‘chip’ which gave very different results to what I was used to.

    So, my routine for making bread changed, and I would emphasise that this is for making just your everyday go to loaf of bread. The various styles you describe on your web-site of course must involve removing dough from machine and styling as required. Quite brilliant!

    Anyway, I ramble! What I do every other day of the week is first mix the dough on the dough/pizza setting which on my current machine is 45mins. Then, (when I get back to it, can vary from on the ‘beep’ to a while later) I put it on one of the other settings, doesn’t seem to matter, sandwich, French, Italian etc, 5 or 6 hours usually.

    And the result is a far nicer loaf, better size, better texture, better all round.

    So, that’s my tip, for just an ordinary loaf.

    I’m off to try your Ciabatta bread, which of course I will have to put some effort into.

    cheers, Jeanette

    1. Thanks for writing Jeanette. Always fun to hear about the different ways people use their bread machine. Hope your Ciabatta turned out good. It can be a challenge but the taste is worth it.

  29. Marv Barton says:

    5 stars
    I was very skeptical about trying this recipe since I consider myself a ciabatta purist and no way could this come close to my old school method. Boy, was I wrong! Incredible crumb and flavor. I fermented biga in fridge for 3 days before continuing recipe. This is incredible bread…. Thank You!

  30. Marv Barton says:

    5 stars
    I was very skeptical about trying this recipe since I consider myself a ciabatta purist and no way could this come close to my old school method. Boy, was I wrong! Incredible crumb and flavor. I fermented biga in fridge for 3 days before continuing recipe. This is incredible bread…. Thank You!

  31. Hi

    The first time I tried this, I weighed the flour. But I used Metric cups for the liquid and it came out very sticky. Tasted okay, though. Good thing I did not use Australian cups.

    Next time I used Metric Cups for everything and it seems to be too dry.

    Normally I try to use recipes that measure things out more accurately – in ml and grams.

    BTW – took me a while to realise you were not middle eastern or asian or something. Thought you were Saladin Ajar.

    1. Hi Don,

      Oh my. Thank you so much for writing. I quickly corrected the link situation. Not sure how that slipped by me.

      Also, I will add measurements for the liquid. As you probably know, we don’t deal with metrics in recipes much in these parts. I will have to look into that.

      When you make this recipe, always look at the dough in the machine after it has been kneading for awhile. You can add liquid until it looks like the video, which is pretty darn sticky. But it should be shiny and very elastic. It will pull away from the sides to some extent.

      You made me laugh about “Saladin Ajar. I wish I could change the name of this website, but I’m in way too far at this point.

  32. Hi Paula, I was wondering if I added fresh garlic cloves to the dough, do you think I would need to make any changes in the process or the measurements? Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tried it, Samantha. I would think you would just add it to the bread machine along with all the other ingredients. I would love to hear how it turns out if you try it.

  33. Hi Paula! I am so glad to have found your blog because I have wanted to try Paul Hollywood’s ciabatta technique for a looong time but didnt wanted a smaller recipe to try out. I just wondered though how come your recipe uses so little yeast- just 1/8tsp for the starter and 1/2tsp for the main dough? I wanted to clarify just in case this is a typo? I would very much want to try your recipe as you also used Paul’s technique but in a proportion which i find to be just right for a home baker. I hope to hear from you thanks!

    1. Hi Ina,

      The amount of yeast is correct. You don’t need much yeast when you are allowing the dough to rise for long periods of time. If it makes you feel better, check out some other ciabatta recipes. (like the one from America’s Test Kitchen). If it’s true ciabatta, they call for similar amounts of yeast. Thanks for asking.

  34. Michelle D. says:

    Hi. I’ve made your recipe before and it is delicious!!!! And so easy! It’s been a while so I got the recipe out and can’t remember if I used all purpose flour or bread flour. The ingredients say all purpose and the recommended products show bread flour what would be the difference? Thanks!!!

  35. That definitely helps, thanks so much for taking the time to reply Paula!

  36. I’m unclear about step 2 in making the biga. You say to combine the ingredients in the bread machine. Do you just dump them together without mixing or should the bread machine be used to mix the biga for some time? If so, how long? You say to turn the machine off so I’m guessing I was using it to mix but I don’t know if it’s just barely or should it look like the you-tube video? Thank you!

    1. Hi Debi,
      Thanks for writing. Turn the machine on just long enough to mix the flour, water and yeast. Then turn the the machine off. And yes, you can dump the flour, water, and yeast in there together. Mix 3-5 minutes. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth. The dough you see in the video comes later after you have added all the ingredients and the kneading cycle is in process. Hope this helps.

  37. Will it make any difference if I use multigrain flour?

    1. Yes, it will make a difference. Multigrain flour is going to be somewhat heavier. I have not tried it myself so can’t give you any specific guidance. In general, bread made with multi-grain flour rises slower and not as high. If you try it, let me know how it goes. Ciabatta is a tricky bread anyway. I think you are brave.

  38. I will be using a Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini bread maker (a 1 lb. loaf machine) to mix the dough. What do you recommend for amounts of all the ingredients?

    1. Paul,
      I did a little research since I don’t own that particular machine. It appears my recipe for Ciabatta would work just fine as is in that machine. The website states it can make bread with up to 3 cups of flour so we’re good.

  39. Christopher Zaleski says:

    5 stars
    Thank you! I appreciate it. -Christopher Zaleski

  40. Christopher Zaleski says:

    In regards to the Biga, you say “Turn off machine (or unplug) and let sit for 12-24 hours.” Then you go on with: ”
    (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.)”

    Question: Do I put in in the refrigerator after it sits out for 12-24 hours or as soon as it is mixed?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Christopher,
      It goes in the fridge after it gets foamy. I would probably refrigerate at 12 hours but whatever is convenient will work.

      1. Christopher Zaleski says:

        5 stars
        Thank you! I appreciate it. -Christopher Zaleski

        1. You’re welcome, Christopher.

  41. Hi P. I love this bread but I have made it twice one and it doesn’t rise enough. What could be the problem?

    1. Hi Loren,
      So sorry to hear your bread is not rising enough. Since I haven’t watched you make it, I can only guess. But I can think of two possibilities although there may be more. My first thought is that your kitchen is cool–at least much cooler than mine. The best solution would be to give it longer to rise. Another possibility could be your yeast. Did you use bread machine or instant yeast? Regular yeast can be used but it needs to be handled differently. I love this bread too, so I hope this will help.

  42. Beautiful bread! Impressive, and very artisan looking. In the recipe, I assume the second amount of yeast is 1/2 teaspoon?

    1. Yes, Julie. You are right. Thank you for prompting me to take another look at the recipe.