Ciabatta bread: the recipe for a great traditional Italian bread


Ciabatta bread is a typical Italian bread that is very versatile and quick to prepare as it needs no shaping. With this recipe, thanks to the addition of very little yeast, you can obtain a light, tasty and very digestible bread.

A proving chamber is not strictly necessary, so this recipe is also suitable for homemade Ciabatta Bread... it will only take a little patience to get the dough to absorb the 70% water, but the results will pay off!

You will find our video-recipe at the end of the article. For the real Italian recipe for Ciabatta bread we recommend you use one of our top quality bread-making flours made in Italy and designed for both professionals and baking enthusiasts. Non-professionals can find a link at the end of the recipe that will take them to our online shop where flour is also available in small quantities.


Ciabatta Bread: ingredients and preparation of a Biga

This Biga method follows the original 100% Italian recipe for Ciabatta bread…. But what is a Biga?

A Biga is a very fast-to-make, incomplete starter that is subsequently re-mixed with water and flour, or sometimes only water to create the final dough. It is the basis of one of the world’s best known indirect dough systems. The Biga is made by mixing a quantity of strong flour, with good proving qualities, with a percentage of water between 45% and 50% depending on the weight of the flour and a dose of brewer’s yeast no higher than 1%. The Biga is purposefully left incomplete and non-homogeneous to prevent it rising too rapidly. The Biga should at least double in volume in a period of 16 to 48 hours.

The ingredients for the Biga:

  • Mulino Padano Star flour or Granaio Italiano Type “2” Forte Stone-Ground, flour: 10kg (500g if made at home).
  • Water: 4.5l that is to say 45% of the weight of the flour (225g if made at home).
  • Fresh brewer’s yeast: 100g that is to say 1% of the weight of the flour (5g if made at home).

Procedure for making the Biga

  • Mix the ingredients together in a spiral mixer at the lowest speed for 4-5 minutes, until all the flour is amalgamated into the dough and there is no longer any dusty residue.
  • Leave to rise for 18-24 hours in a proving chamber at 18/19°C with 70% relative humidity. For home-baking, leave to prove in a covered container.


Italian Ciabatta Bread: ingredients and preparation of the dough


  • All the Biga
  • Mulino Padano Star flour or Granaio Italiano Type “2” Forte Stone-Ground flour: 1kg or 10% of the weight of flour used in the Biga (50g if made at home).
  • Brewer’s yeast: 10g or 1% of the weight of flour added (1g if made at home). By lengthening the proving time of the finished dough, it is possible and preferable not to add additional yeast to the flour at this point.
  • Malt: 55-77g or 0.5-0.7% of the total weight flour (3g if made at home).
  • Salt: 187-188g or 1.7-1.8% of the total weight of flour (9g if made at home).
  • Water: 3.2l or 70% of the total weight of the flour minus the quantity of water used for the Biga (7.7l – 4.5l = 3.2l). Use 160ml if made at home.

Controlling the water temperature is crucial to obtaining a good bread and is facilitated by the application of the following formula:

fixed total temperature 55°C – room temperature – flour temperature = water temperature

For example, with an room temperature of 25°C and a flour temperature of 22°C, the water temperature must be 8°C (55-25-22 = 8). In the summer months this formula can give a negative water temperature and in this case you will have to use chilled water, close to zero degrees, without getting ice in the dough.

Procedure for Ciabatta bread dough

  • Mix the Biga and the flour together in a spiral mixer on the lowest speed, for 5-6 minutes adding the yeast and malt in succession.
  • Pour in 2/3 of the water a little at a time, making sure that the dough always remains stringy.
  • Knead for 8-10 mins at the second speed, adding the salt and then the remaining water. The final temperature of the dough should be around 26°C.
  • Leave to rest in a covered container for 45-60 minutes.
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface, lightly flour the top of the dough and divide into loaves.
  • Place the loaves on well-floured boards and let them rest for another 30/40 minutes without covering them.
  • Turn the loaves over and place them on a baking sheet (or an oven tray when home baking) and gently stretch them lengthways. Steam bake at 230°-240°C for 40-45 minutes.
  • Open the draft valves 5-10 min before the end of cooking. In a home oven, bake for a few minutes less, turn the oven off and leave the ciabatta in, with the door open, for a few minutes.


The video-recipe for Ciabatta bread using the Biga method


Do you want to make this recipe?

You can make a 100% Italian ciabatta bread with our Mulino Padano Star flour or with our Granaio Italiano Type “2” Forte Stone-Ground flour both available in small quantities from our online shop.

Are you a professional baker?

Contact us to find out more about our flour and to request a free trial sample.