Super Tasty Ciabatta Bread – The Quick And Easy Way


You love bread. You especially love the Italian Ciabatta variety of delicious breads. You’d like to try and bake one yourself but are intimidated by the complex and time consuming process that all of thousands of copy cat recipes found on the internet call for.

Well, this simple, quick and easy  ZenChef Ciabatta bread recipe has you making some today and you’ll be making it regularly from now on in, I promise you that.

What’s the ZenChef’s secret? It’s in simplicity, minimalism and efficiency to achieve outstanding and flavourful results.

Typical Ciabatta recipes call for a Biga* as a key to success and my recipe is no different in this regard but I remove the mysticism from the process.

My recipe also calls for some olive oil, the addition of which is subject to some debate. To me it adds a bit of a savory taste and as Ciabatta is often dipped in olive oil and Balsamico or used to make paninis, it follows that adding olive oil to the dough just makes it taste better for a variety of uses. Now, if you’re mostly going to eat it with butter and jam on it, just skip the olive oil.

Why do I use honey? To help the yeast get a head start many recipes call for the addition of a small quantity of sugar to the warm water and yeast mix. Substituting wild flower honey has two benefits. One, it supercharges the yeast activation and two, it adds a certain subtle exotic note to the taste of the bread.

Let’s talk about hydration. Ciabatta breads typically use high hydration doughs that is to say 75% water or more. I count the olive oil as a liquid towards hydration so this recipe is about 81% hydration (72% if you count the water only). I like this level of hydration as it still results in a light and airy bread but keeps the dough more manageable, i.e. less messy to handle.

Lastly, don’t be intimidated by the number of steps in the instructions. I just like to be detailed but they are not complicated. Read through them once and you’ll see that they fall into the “easy” category. If you already have some experience baking bread you’ll find most of them to be be quite familiar.

* Biga, aka Sponge, Preferment and any number of other versions of the same concept is simply a dough made some time ahead that uses more or less the same ingredients as will go into the bread recipe you are going to be making. For a simple general purpose Biga/Preferment that you can use in pretty much any bread recipe, check out my Preferment recipe HERE.

Super Easy, Super Tasty Ciabatta Bread

A simple and quick recipe to make delicious Ciabatta bread that rivals or betters the best you've ever tasted.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Proofing 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Course Baked Goods, Bread
Cuisine International, Italian


  • Large Bowl
  • Dough Scraper
  • Bench Scraper
  • Kitchen Scales digital, general purpose, up tp 5 Kg
  • Micro Scales digital, small quantities, up tp 100 g
  • Measuring Cup 500 ml
  • Parchment paper wide format
  • Baking Stone or Baking Sheet
  • Small baking/casserole dish Non stick, metal, 20cm x 20cm
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Turner or spatula


  • 100 g Biga/Preferment
  • 550 g Bread Flour Can substitute All Purpose
  • 400 ml Water Warm, 40℃/110℉
  • 25 ml Honey I use Wild Flower
  • 4 g Yeast Traditional, dry
  • 11 g Salt Pink Himalayan or regular
  • 50 ml Olive Oil Extra Virgin


  • If you are keeping your Biga/Preferment in the fridge, take it out and let it come up to room temperature
  • If you have a large amount of Biga/Preferment, measure out 100g
  • To the warm water add the honey and stir to dissolve
  • Add yeast to water and give it a quick stir with a wooden stir stick
  • Let sit for 10 minutes until yeast forms a foamy cap
  • Meanwhile measure out flour into the bowl
  • Add salt to flour and thoroughly mix into flour
  • Drop the Biga/Preferment into the flour and using your hands, pinch off small amounts into the flour until all is used up
  • Toss the flour and bits of Big/Preferment until evenly distributed
  • When ready, add the water, honey and yeast mix to the flour
  • Add the olive oil
  • Use a wooden spoon to mix flour and liquids until you get a shaggy dough (2-3 minutes)
  • Use your hands and a dough scraper to quickly knead the dough into ball (1-2 minutes)
  • Cover the bowl with cling wrap and set aside letting it rise until doubled in size, about one hour
  • While you are waiting for the dough to rise/proof, prepare your oven by placing your baking stone or inverted baking/cookie sheet on the middle rack
  • Place the baking/casserole dish on the lower rack
  • After about 30 - 45 minutes preheat the oven to 250℃/480℉
  • Prepare a large cutting board or inverted baking sheet and cover it with a piece of parchment paper about 38 cm x 38 cm
  • When the dough has sufficiently risen, turn it out onto a flowered work surface using dough scraper if necessary
  • Quickly roll dough into an oval log dusting with a little flour as needed
  • Grab the log at one end and lift it up above the work surface letting the weight of the dough elongate it downwards giving it a couple of jiggles to help it along
  • Place the dough back on the work surface and fold it in half lengthwise
  • Rotate the dough 90°, grab it at the far end and repeat the lift and jiggle
  • Repeat the process 3 more times
  • Quickly shape the dough into a ball and put it back into the generously floured bowl
  • Cover and let it rise a second time for about 30 minutes
  • Turn the dough back out onto you floured work surface and slice off a 100 g to 150 g portion of the dough with a bench scarper. Place that into a re-sealable plastic container and move it to the fridge. This will be the Biga/Preferment for your next batch of bread.
  • Roll the main portion of the dough into a ball and cut it in half
  • Take one half, shape it into a log about 30 - 35 cm long and place it on the parchment paper about a third of the way in from the edge
  • Take the other half of the dough, shape it into a log about 30 - 35 cm long and place it on the parchment paper about a third of the way in from the opposite edge. You should have a few centimeters between the two logs
  • Generously dust the logs with flour, cover with a clean cloth or towel and let them rest for 10 minutes
  • Remove the cloth and with a sharp knife, razorblade or lame, slash the dough logs 3 or 4 times at a shallow angle along their length
  • Quickly open the oven, grab the board with the parchment paper and dough logs on it, move close and parallel to the baking stone or sheet and slide the logs onto the surface by grabbing the parchment paper at the far end and dragging it onto the baking surface
  • Toss 4 or 5 ice cubes into the baking dish below the baking surface and close the oven door
  • Set the oven timer for 30 minutes
  • After 10 minutes, open the oven, quickly slide the two logs off the parchment paper and onto the stone/sheet with the help of a turner and give the logs a couple of spritzes with the spritz bottle.
  • Close the door and lower the temperature to 230℃/450℉
  • After another 10 minutes quickly spritz the logs one more time
  • Continue baking for the remainder of the 30 minutes
  • Remove the breads from the oven and place on a metal rack to cool
  • Once cooled off, tear off a piece of your master piece and enjoy as is is or with just a bit of butter. You might never make bread any other way.
Keyword bread, chiabatta


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