Easy Ciabatta Recipe

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ciabatta in oven

Something I love as much as, or more maybe, than pizza, is bread. A crunchy boule just out of your wood fired oven is heaven on a plate. A few weekends ago, instead of pizza Friday, we had bruschetta for dinner. Fresh tomatoes and herbs from our garden, flavorful mozzarella and a drizzle of Italian olive oil with this ciabatta bread fresh out of the oven was a wonderful ending to a long work week! Add a bottle of crisp white wine to cool the summer temps and all is bliss…the perfect summer meal.

Ciabatta means “slipper” in Italian and the bread originated in Verona in response to the French baguette. The baker who created the first recipe, named it ciabatta because the shape of the dough reminded him of his wife’s slipper. Ciabatta is known for it’s crisp crust and open crumb and a ciabatta loaf is typically elongated, broad and flat. I chose to make rolls instead of a loaf, which were irregular in shape and size. I didn’t use my pizza peel to transfer them from the baking sheet to the oven, choosing instead to pick them up gently with my hands and place them directly on the oven floor.

ciabatta whole                                                         ciabatta crumb

I made a double batch, so I had a lot of rolls in the oven at the same time. It was a little difficult to move them front to back so they cooked evenly and I ended up using my hands for that too because my peel wouldn’t work in the tight quarters. They become fairly firm very quickly, so it is easy enough to move them around without affecting the quality of the finished product.

As I said, we had bruschetta, but these rolls are fabulous with just a drizzle of flavorful olive oil as well. I encourage you to try this easy recipe.



Easy Ciabatta

Yield: 12 rolls or 2 loaves


1/2 tsp yeast

1/2 cup warm water (to the touch)

1 cup all purpose flour

Add yeast and flour to the water and combine with a whisk to form a paste. Cover and let sit at room temperature eight hours or overnight (either on the counter or in the fridge)

After sitting, the biga should have a ton of bubbles on top. This, and the rising of the dough, are what will help the final bread have a beautiful crumb with a soft interior and crunchy exterior.


2 cups water

1 tsp yeast

The Biga that you had resting

4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp salt


Add yeast to the water in your mixer bowl and stir to wet all the yeast. Add all of the Biga to the water and break it up with a spatula until stringy.

Add salt to the flour and stir, then add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl. Stir to form a thick dough. Let mixture stand for 20 minutes so the flour can absorb all of the water and the yeast can proof a little.

Use the dough hook on your mixer and let the mixer run for a good 15-20 minutes on medium speed. This will really bring the dough together and help build the gluten. At first, the dough will really stick to the bottom of the bowl, but eventually it will come away from the sides and start slapping the sides. If you don’t get to this point by the halfway mark of the mixing time you may need to increase the speed on the mixer. When you stop the mixer, the dough will all fall back into the bowl and be very loose. As long as it is smooth and shiny, you are good to go.

Keep the dough in the mixer bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let this rise at room temp for 2 or 3 hours until it has tripled in bulk.

In order to most easily handle this wet dough, make sure you use A LOT of flour on your work surface. Scrape the dough out onto the flour and handle gingerly because you don’t want to break all of those beautiful bubbles that are just below the surface of the dough. Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough and then cut the dough into either 2 loaves or 12 rolls. I used a pizza cutter and it worked great, you could also use your bench scraper.

Flour your hands and gently place the dough onto a floured baking sheet. Leave the dough sit for another 30 minutes or so (can go a lot longer if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend letting it sit more than an hour and a half). The bubbles will really start to come out on the surface after this resting period.

Bake in your wfo at around 350-400F for 15-20 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom. You can also bake in your kitchen oven at 475F on a baking stone for 20-30 minutes.


The Big Build…continued

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Welcome back!

Last time we left off with the foundation structure built. Our next step was to top it off with the 4×6 boards and use the Liquid Nails to adhere them to the landscape bricks. We then put a layer of pavers on the side where the oven would sit. This was to add an extra layer of protection between the floor of the oven and the wood underneath. Even though there would be a 3″ layer of insulation there as well, at temps over 700F, it’s a good idea to keep wood as far away as possible! The floor of the oven is actually rated to go as high as 2400F, but that’s just crazy!!


We leveled the pavers with shims and moved on. The oven we purchased, from The Bread Stone Ovens Company, came with everything we needed for the installation, except the wire to wrap around the dome before applying stucco. The day it arrived was so exciting! I’ve never received a crate before 😉 It was like Christmas unpacking that box! Everything was safe and sound and we couldn’t wait to get it all put together. We purchased the 700B raised oven which gave us 3″ additional inches of height on the entry arch. This would allow us to cook a turkey or anything else that is a little taller. It has also been very nice to have that extra room, in general, just for cooking pizzas…especially since I can be a bit of a klutz.

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I’m going to be sharing a lot of pictures in this post because I would have loved to have had a reference like this when we were going through this process. While we received excellent written instructions with the oven, it still would have been nice to have someone else’s experience to follow, even if it wasn’t 100% the same as mine. My hope is that this helps someone along the way.

The base insulation was next. We laid the sheets of insulation on the foundation, placed the floor of the oven on them and traced the outline, then cut the insulation to shape with a jigsaw. Very easy to do and we finally had a visual of the size of our oven on the foundation!

11811408_10207456854239637_7638284752344252385_n 20617_10207456854639647_3075535056676744370_n 11828661_10207456854679648_5512146073423739757_n 10463048_10207456855239662_5047820529939188715_n 11822315_10207456857119709_5922893116350830467_n11873643_10207456855759675_2929664194139626250_nThat’s Carolyn, cheesin’ it up!

The base came in several pieces. The two pieces of the actual base are held together by twisting the wires on the sides. Then the fire bricks are placed inside. A bead of “cement” (provided) is run along the edge of the base and then the 3″ riser was added. This “cement” doesn’t actually adhere anything, so be aware when it comes time to use it on the front arch. We lost a whole day waiting for the arch to adhere to the dome only to learn that it never would with the “cement” that was provided. We ended up getting some flame retardant adhesive at Lowe’s to use for that part. Anyway, the next step was to get the dome from our garage and lifted up on to the base. The dome itself weighs over 500lbs, so we enlisted the help of the men in our families. There are sturdy wires looped in the concrete covering the dome and these are used to insert 2x4s to make lifting easier. Though easier is a relative term; the guys in our family who helped us with the lift would beg to differ, I’m sure!

11224306_10207456854199636_5486203460678553076_n11870687_10207514955012120_6275459335653620652_n11229548_10207514955052121_5665151623362838793_n11888078_10207514956012145_4663733650698646073_n11863392_10207514957652186_3728019014271112582_n11855706_10207514958692212_4086598232339753226_n11846746_10207514959612235_751961645149475637_n11201496_10207514961132273_1860611633022067029_n         11902266_10207514961292277_7161549371127330379_n 11892076_10207514969652486_5639014471257419985_nAnd there we are, all smiles…

We held the arch up to see what it would look like and then used bungee cords to hold it while the adhesive set overnight.

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After the arch was set, I installed the chimney, but for some reason I don’t have any pictures of that.Next was insulation, a layer of kitchen aluminum foil, and wire to cover the entire dome. Yes, kitchen foil. The instructions said foil and I was thinking it must be some sort of foiled insulation; I just couldn’t figure it out, so I called the company and he informed me that it was regular old kitchen foil. By the way, I had to call the Bread Stone Oven company a few times during the installation and they were so helpful every time. I even asked a bunch of questions by email and always received prompt, informative responses. I highly recommend this company for your wfo needs.

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Then stucco and we’re done!! We put a heavy plastic sheet over the foundation to avoid stucco getting on the oven or the pavers. Mixed up the stucco, added the coloring powder and began troweling it on. We didn’t have wire on the front of the oven and this made it very hard to apply the stucco. I ended up applying it with my hands and smoothing it out as much as I could. I would recommend putting some sort of wooden structure around the front, along with wire, before stucco to make it look better. I do like the rustic look of our oven though. Also, you have to do at least two layers of stucco. The second one is much harder to apply, in my opinion. We chose to leave the surface rough, but you could smooth it out with a soft trowel if you choose. Neither of us had done anything like this before, but it was much easier than we anticipated. Don’t ever be afraid to try something new.

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So, that brings us to the end of the building process. We began cooking in our oven the weekend after we finished everything and have used it almost every weekend since. Total building time took around 14 days over 9 weeks from the first shovel in the ground to the first fire.


You need to cure the oven before baking in it by building a series of small fires and increasing the size/intensity of the fire. This is done to get all of the moisture out of the bricks. You’ll want to do this if your oven sits for an extended period of time without use, as well.

UPDATE: The section under the opening did not fare well for us over the winter. It all cracked and crumbled away. In the spring, I removed it all and replaced it with some old fire bricks we had laying around. I really like the new look a lot more.

Before: 12993580_10209342889589342_7606197189731808417_n After: 13083252_10209381414592443_5214147800544075358_n

And this is the oven today…we added a board around the front and side and painted the pavers. I’ve installed some hooks on the board for my paddle and to hang towels. We also added an umbrella at the end of the foundation because the sun sets on that side and it just beats down on us when we’re cooking.

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Thanks for sticking with me through this process. Join me again for more wood fired cooking!