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If you know me, you know I love my carbs. I would subsist on nothing but bread if it wouldn’t kill me. But I’m awfully Picky about my bread! Just any ol’ slice of Wonderbread won’t do. I need fresh, artisanal bread—preferably slathered in butter.

Loaves of fancy bread at the store can cost $4 or more. That’s not a price I’m willing to pay. What’s a Picky carb-lover to do?

Make your own bread!

Here’s how I made my own homemade ciabatta bread—AKA Bread of the Gods.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe

Ciabatta is admittedly one of the more difficult breads to make. It’s finicky, sticky, and time-consuming. If this is your first time making bread, I’d recommend trying our white loaf recipe first to practice.

I use King Arthur Flour’s ciabatta recipe. It’s by far the easiest and most flavorful ciabatta I’ve made—and I’ve tried at least three other recipes.

The thing about ciabatta bread is that it’s actually a fermented dough. You make the biga (also called the sponge) a day before you want to bake the bread. This allows the yeast to ferment overnight to give the bread a wonderful taste. So if you have a hankering for ciabatta, I find it’s best to have it made ahead of time, since it takes a day to make!

I would also recommend making this dough with a mixer. I’ve tried to do it by hand and it’s difficult because the dough is incredibly sticky. You’ll need a decent mixer to get a consistent texture and to handle the dough.

I would also recommend using a set of dough paddles. These little guys are $5 a pop at Sur La Table, which is silly to me.

Mr. Picky Pincher made me DIY dough cutters out of an old laundry detergent container. If you want to do that instead of spending $10, make sure you wash the paddles very thoroughly before using them in the kitchen.

Without further ado, here’s how to make homemade ciabatta bread!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups cool water
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt




Equipment

Mixer
Spatulas
Olive oil
Plastic wrap
Dough paddles
Baking sheet
Parchment paper
Water spray bottle

Directions:

  1. Make the biga! Stir the 1 ½ cups cool water, 2 cups of flour, and 1 teaspoon of yeast together in a mixing bowl. I recommend putting your biga in the bowl you’ll use to mix in the other ingredients (like a KitchenAid mixer bowl), since it’s very sticky and hard to transfer between bowls.

2. After you’ve made the biga, cover it with plastic wrap. Leave it at room temperature for at least two hours and for a maximum of 12 hours. This allows the yeast in the dough to ferment.

3. After your biga is nice and bubbly, stir in the 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of yeast, and 1 ½ cups of flour to your biga mixture.

4. Beat this mixture with a dough hook attachment until it comes together. It will be very sticky, so don’t panic if it seems too soft. King Arthur mentions that you should only add more flour if the dough is like soup, but I’ve never had that problem.

5. Grab a separate bowl and lightly oil it (I just smear olive oil on my hands and run it along the insides of the bowl). Using a greased spatula, pour the dough from the mixer and into the greased bowl.

6. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise for one hour.




7. After an hour, deflate the dough gently with the tips of your fingers. Don’t do a traditional punching of the dough, as that will be too rough for the ciabatta.

deflate the dough

8. Let the dough rise for another hour.

9. Prepare a large baking sheet and place parchment paper on it.

prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper

10. Using greased dough paddles, gingerly ease the dough out of the bowl and onto the parchment paper. You want to handle this as little as possible so you’ll get good air bubbles in your bread. At this point, you’ll have one big hunk of dough on your parchment paper.

cut the dough in half

11. Using your greased dough paddles, gently cut this dough in half and shape it into long, oval shapes.

There is some finesse to shaping the dough without deflating it, so take your time here. The first few times I tried to make this bread I totally deflated it. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a lot of holes your first time!

shaped dough for baking

12. Once you have your two loaves shaped, cover them with generously-oiled plastic wrap.

oiling plastic wrap

13. Let the loaves rise at room temperature until they’re puffy; about 2 hours.




14. When you have 30 minutes left for your proofing time, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

15. Once the dough has risen, spray it with water. You’ll need to create steam to have a crunchy crust!

spray the dough with water

16. Place the dough in the oven. As soon as you place it in the oven, turn the oven down to 425 degrees. We do this so the ciabatta has a nice crust without burning.

17. Allow the ciabatta to bake for 25-30 minutes until it’s golden brown. If you can’t tell when the bread is done, you can try knocking on it and it should sound hollow.

18. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool.

19. Serve while warm with salted butter. Yum!

finished ciabatta loaves

Storing Homemade Ciabatta

Phew! That was a lot of work for some bread! But I swear that this ciabatta is flippin’ fantastic.

The issue with homemade breads is that they don’t last very long. This means you either need to eat them immediately or store them.

I opt for storing them, as much as I would love to eat two loaves of bread in one day.

To store homemade ciabatta:

  • Allow the bread to cool completely to room temperature.
  • Wrap the loaf in two layers of plastic wrap.
  • Cover the layer of plastic wrap with aluminum foil.
  • I like to use a Sharpie to label the aluminum foil with “Ciabatta” as well as the date it was baked.
  • I toss the loaves in the freezer once they’re packaged.

When I’m ready to eat ciabatta, I take it out of the freezer, remove the plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and microwave it until it’s loose enough to be sliced. I like to broil it quickly in the oven for a good crunch!

You can also try pre-slicing your ciabatta before freezing it so you only have to defrost as much bread as you’ll eat.




The Bottom Line

And that’s how it’s done, folks! Homemade food isn’t always fast and easy, but I think it’s worth the work. It helps if you love to cook, and recipes like this ciabatta will really up your game as a home cook.

We want to know: Do you bake your own bread?


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