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How to Make Ciabatta with a Bread Machine

If you are confident in your bread-baking skills, I wrote this post, “How to Make Ciabatta with a Bread Machine” just for you.

Ciabatta Bread tastes fantastic and boasts a characteristically open texture, but it can be a challenge for the home baker. Using a bread machine or bread maker to mix the dough means you won’t have to handle the sticky dough until you get ready to shape your loaf. I have tips to make that easier, too.

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

What does my obsession with the British Baking Show have to do with Ciabatta?

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.”

Those are fightin’ words…

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.

Why Making Ciabatta in a Bread Machine is a Good Idea

The dough doesn’t “stick and pull away from the side of the pan” like the average 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

Wait until you hear this…

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, slowly and patiently dump the dough 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.”

How to Make Ciabatta with a Bread Machine--bread cooling on parchment paper

Is this bread really worth the trouble?

I think so. The yeasty flavors are well-developed and flavorsome not to mention the chewy texture and tender but crispy crust.

Substitutions

  1. If you happen to make Greek yogurt at home, substitute some of the whey you drained from the yogurt for the water. Whey will impart a hint of sourdough flavor to your bread.
  2. Substitute bread flour for unbleached flour if you like.

How To Make Ciabatta with a Bread Maker

picture tutorial about forming ciabatta

Recipe Note

#1

Never try to rush the proofing or rising time.

Paul Hollywood from the British Baking Show mentioned this more than once. You should only add cold water and cold milk to this recipe.

#2

Let the dough rise at room temperature.

Don’t use that warm and humid spot where you usually proof your bread dough. The longer it takes to rise, the better the flavor.

#3

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

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.

#4

Check bread with a thermometer if you want to be sure when the bread is done.

Use a quick-rise thermometer to test the internal temperature of your loaf to check if your bread is completely cooked through. The temperature should be around 190˚F.

My favorite thermometer (paid link) is a little pricey but I love how fast and accurate it is. If you like to cook, you’ll be surprised how often you reach for it.

Bread Machine Ciabatta
My oldest grandson was thrilled to get a few slices for a snack when I finished taking pictures.

More Recipes for Bread Makers


Pin the picture below to save for later.

sliced ciabatta

Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.

Thank you for visiting!
Paula


How To Make Ciabatta with a Bread Machine

How To Make Ciabatta with a Bread Machine

Yield: 16 slices
Prep Time: 1 days
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 days 30 minutes

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.

Ingredients

BIGA

  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour (120 grams)

Ciabatta Dough

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cool water (Save back 2 tablespoons to add as needed to correct dough consistency)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (240 grams)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bread machine yeast (yes, that's all)
  • flour or semolina for flouring the board and your hands

Instructions

Mixing the Biga

  1. Combine yeast, water, and flour in bread machine (or another container if you don't want to tie up your bread machine that long.) You may need to use a small spatula to scrape excess flour from the corners into the wet flour mixture. Select the dough cycle and turn on for about 5 minutes to mix the ingredients. Turn off machine (or unplug) and let sit for 12-24 hours.
  2. (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

  1. 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. After 10 minutes, check dough. It should be sticky. It will hold some shape but will also stick to the side. See video. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time if dough is too dry. If dough is too wet and looks more like thick pancake batter, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
  2. 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

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 cut edge is facing up and each loaf has two lines down the middle.
  6. 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.
  7. Let loaves rest for about 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  8. Spray loaves lightly with water using a spray bottle. Bake at 425 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Spray loaves 2 more times during the first 5 minutes of baking.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 slices Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 167Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 213mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g

Did you make this recipe?

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Jeanette

Thursday 2nd of July 2020

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

Paula

Friday 3rd of July 2020

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.

Don

Tuesday 31st of March 2020

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.

Paula

Wednesday 1st of April 2020

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.

Samantha

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

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!

Paula

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

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.

Ina

Tuesday 17th of March 2020

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!

Paula

Wednesday 18th of March 2020

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.

Michelle D.

Saturday 22nd of June 2019

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!!!