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Ciabatta With Variations

The most effortless recipe for home-made Italian bread.  Ciabatta literally means “slipper”  in Italian, so keep this in mind when shaping the bread!  The bread is deliciously hard and crisp served soon after baking but may be enjoyed within a day or frozen, thawed and reheated.

500 ml cake flour
2 x 10 g packet instant yeast
5 ml salt
5 ml sugar
15 ml olive oil
350 ml lukewarm water
additional cake flour
additional oil to grease hands and bowl

  1. Place the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl with a lid that can seal airtight.
  2. Stir to combine, make a well in the centre and add the oil and water.
  3. Beat the dough well with a spoon to make a soft dough, difficult to stir but too soft to knead.
  4. Add extra flour until the dough holds together in a soft ball and becomes less sticky.
  5. Grease the palms of the hands very generously with oil and gather the dough into the hands.
  6. To strengthen and manipulate the dough, slap the dough from the one hand to the other 100 times! Or, knead in an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook for 4 minutes.
  7. Oil two bowls generously and place half of the dough into each bowl.
  8. Seal airtight with a lid or cling wrap and allow to rise for 20 to 30 minutes until doubled and full of air.
  9. Place a Wizbake baking sheet on a baking tray and sprinkle with a little flour.
  10. To make two smaller ciabatta’s, cut and separate the dough into two portions with a pizza cutter table knife and shape into a “slipper” shape.
  11. Sprinkle the bread/s with flour, cover with oiled cling wrap and allow to rise another hour or until well risen and filled with air.
  12. When the bread has almost doubled in size, preheat the oven to 200 ° C.
  13. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
  14. Remove the bread from the oven with oven mittens and transfer it to a cooling rack to cool for a few minutes.
  15. Serve the bread immediately with good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Servings: 1 large or 2 smaller loaves

The bread is at it’s best soon after baking but may be enjoyed within a day or frozen, thawed and reheated when needed.


Slip the dough onto the prepared baking tray and with oiled hands shape and stretch the dough to make an attractive flat bread.

Rye Flour Ciabatta Bread
Substitute 1 cup of the cake or bread flour with rye flour and add 5 ml caraway seed for a delicious flavour. Sprinkle the shaped bread with rye flour.   

Bran-rich Ciabatta Bread
Substitute 100 ml (use 400 ml) of the cake or bread flour with 250 ml digestive bran.    

Olive and Sun dried Tomato and Herb Bread
Have ready about 125 ml stoned olives and/or sun-dried tomatoes and rosemary sprigs, chopped rosemary, dried herbs or garlic and herb seasoning. Brush the shaped loaves with olive or sunflower oil and press the prepared topping ingredients into the dough of the shaped loaves with the index finger. Add sprigs of rosemary or herbs and let rise.

Tuscan Onion Bread
Brush the shaped loaves with olive or sunflower oil, arrange thinly sliced onion rings (1 medium onion) on top and sprinkle with coarse salt and / or garlic and herb seasoning. 

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from Art Of Cooking page 831.