Homemade Ciabatta Bread

>> Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Today I want to share with you a recipe that’s changed my life over the last week. Every Friday, Stephen and I gleefully dance on into Wegmans and pick up bakery bread to make The LOVER Sandwich (yes, we still eat that one almost weekly!) or my all-time favorite, the Caprese Sandwich. Lately, we’ve been crushing on soft, pillowy ciabatta. But the $4.50 price tag shocks me every time. I knew I could make this bread from home, I just wasn’t sure how easy it would be.

Enter my beloved Martha Stewart Baking Handbook, which has taught me how to make everything from homemade bagels to pizza dough to cookies to cakes and more. The ciabatta bread is actually a variation of Martha’s foccacia recipe. I’ve made it enough times now that I’m happy to share some extended notes on mixing and baking so you guys can make bubbly ciabatta bread at home tonight!


What you’ll need . . . 

  • 3-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water + a couple tablespoons
  • Extra flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method . . . 

  1. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine 3 cups of the flour with the water and yeast. You want to create a sponge, so the dough should basically be wet but not soupy -- see photo below. Add the last 1/2 cup flour (or more) until you reach that consistency.
  2. Cover and let rise for 1 hour uninterrupted.
  3. Then add in the salt and possibly a bit more flour for kneading. The book suggests using the dough hook for this part, but I used a silicone spatula to knead my dough with a bit of flour inside the bowl for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Then cover and let rise for two hours. 
  5. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Place a baking stone on the bottom. 
  6. Generously flour a work surface and pour/scoop your dough out onto it, paying carful attention not to knead and compromise any of those bubbles.
  7. Cut dough in half or thirds so you can fashion two or three generous loaves with your hands. Coat with a light dusting of flour on all sides and let rest for another 10 minutes or so while you wait for your oven to preheat.
  8. If you have a peel, you can transfer the dough onto the stone with it. I don’t, so I just used a floured unrhymed baking sheet. Get that dough onto the stone ASAP and close the oven door. Set your timer for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Bread is done baking when it is lightly brown and the bottom -- when tapped -- sounds hollow. For me, this has generally been around 25 minutes.
  10. Let cool completely on a wire rack.


  • This recipe makes two generous loaves. I estimate they are slightly smaller than the ones we buy at Wegmans, so they’d probably cost like $6.50 or $7 together in all. Yet with the flour required and negligible yeast, I’m thinking at home the price is around $1. 
  • Play with the salt ratio to suit your tastes. I like my bread saltier, but you might not.
  • It’s important you let it rise the full two hours after the initial because it will turn out rather flat otherwise -- not great for slicing.
  • You can also use this recipe for pizza dough! Just divide into two and then lay out flat on your stone and top with toppings. Bake using the broil method like I outline in this post for best results.
  • The bread will last 2-3 days when wrapped at room temperature. 
  • I haven’t tried freezing, but will report back on that sometime soon!
  • Martha has a few other ciabatta recipes worth checking out.

And if you like this recipe, check out why you should stop buying sliced bread at the store and make your own instead. It may seem like there are lots of steps involved, but after you get the hang of a few key recipes, you’ll never want to look back -- I promise!

Bakery Style Breads, Etc.

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