August 20, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This simple bread can be mixed by hand and involves virtually no shaping!Erin McDowell

Makes: 2 loaves



  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour (9.55 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (1 g)
  • 1 cup room temperature water (8.00 ounces)


  • 3 cups bread flour (12.75 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (12 g)
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt (8 g)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (12.00 ounces)
  • Biga (above)
In This Recipe


  1. The night before you want to make the bread, mix the biga. In a medium bowl, mix the ingredients just until combined. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in a cool, dry place overnight.
  2. When you're ready to make the bread, mix the flour, yeast, and salt to combine in a large bowl. Add the water and the biga and mix (with your hands or a wooden spoon) until the mixture comes together to form a ball.
  3. Continue to mix by hand until the dough develops some gluten structure and appears smoother in texture, 4 to 5 minutes. The dough will be very sticky (almost soupy)—never fear, that’s how it’s supposed to be! Transfer the dough to a slightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Sift flour onto your work surface and over the dough. Gently stretch the dough onto your work surface, forming a rectangular shape. Divide the dough into two even pieces.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly dust the parchment with flour. Stretch each piece of dough very gently as you transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Sift more flour over each loaf, and let rise for another hour.
  6. Heat the oven to 475° F. Place a baking sheet in the lower third part of the oven and measure out three cups of ice cubes into a large bowl. Place the sheet with the bread onto the baking stone (if you have one), and immediately toss the ice onto the empty baking sheet. Close the oven, and bake until the loaves are deeply golden, 35 to 45 minutes. If the ciabatta is browning too quickly, lower the temperature to 400° F.

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Reviews (35) Questions (0)

35 Reviews

Marja-Lewis May 9, 2018
So. Perfect. I made one loaf and 6 rolls. Thank you for posting.
Juls September 10, 2017
Tried this after the first rise the dough still stayed soupy, and it was impossible to separate to make 2 loafs! is that alright? Could it be cos I covered it like I did with the Biga night before?
Mayra February 9, 2016
Tried this recipe yesterday. I have a small oven, so the second loaf stayed in a less warm (it's summer!) spot in my kitchen while the first baked. The first loaf didn't rise much while baking, and the result was a dense yet soft ciabatta. The second loaf had 40 extra minutes to rise, and so it did! I got a larger, softer and lighter bread, with larger bubbles on the inside. Both loaves were terrific and were devoured before I could take photos :)<br />Thank you very much for sharing this recipe!
Sarah March 26, 2015
Since each loaf will require it's own baking sheet, is it okay to leave a loaf on the counter while the other one bakes? both baking sheets won't fit on 1 level in the oven. prepping to make this on Saturday, can't wait!
Joana January 3, 2015
Hi :) i feel kinda dumb, can u explain me the ice step please?
Corinne March 18, 2015
It produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms
Smaug June 14, 2016
Weird way to go about it, though. Hot water produces more steam than ice, if not quite as spectacular, and it's best to use cast iron (skillet or Dutch oven) in the bottom of the oven to contain it- among other things this could warp your pan, and the cast iton holds much more heat. The 475 oven is also too hot for parchment.
Mel December 29, 2018
I skipped the ice because I didn't read closely... baked them on cookie sheets at 400... still turned out amazing. Thanks for the recipe!
Joanette November 20, 2014
Great recipe! Turned out perfect!
juleeclip September 17, 2014
This looks great! I'd love to make this for a dinner party this weekend. How long can the biga sit out before you need to use it? I plan to make that the night before, but have a commitment in the morning and won't get around to actually making the final dough until around 2 p.m. the next day. Is that too long?
Jill G. September 1, 2014
It just came out of the oven and is perfect. Great recipe!
Author Comment
Erin M. September 2, 2014
So glad you enjoyed it!
margaret F. September 1, 2014
There's a reference to rising "again" once loaves have been formed but no mention of first rise. I'm assuming that should occur after dough has been mixed in the bowl, yes?
Author Comment
Erin M. September 2, 2014
Hi Margaret, in step three, I say to transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and rise until double in size, one hour. Hope that helps!
AnnieHynes August 31, 2014
Just pulled the 2nd loaf out of the oven. Both turned out beautifully without a stone at 475 for 38-40 minutes each. Crust is amazing
Author Comment
Erin M. September 2, 2014
Annie - so glad you enjoyed it!
AnnieHynes August 31, 2014
Hopefully this works without a stone....
Author Comment
Erin M. September 2, 2014
It can definitely work without a stone, but the stone just helps ensure a crisp crust - helpful, but not necessary.
AnnieHynes August 31, 2014
Each rectangle of dough needs it's own cookie sheet. Mine rose and became one big loaf<br />
Author Comment
Erin M. September 2, 2014
A great point - I'll make an edit to the recipe above!
gasgirl August 31, 2014
PLEASE...can we have the grams or oz for this recipe! and thank you for all the great directions!
Author Comment
Erin M. September 2, 2014
Hi gasgirl, I'll try to put up weight later this week, thanks for the suggestion.
Dyana W. September 3, 2014
Shifting a couple of grams here and there to round up the numbers without overly affecting overall ratio, grammage:<br /><br />280 g bread flour<br />1.5g teaspoon instant yeast<br />200g room temperature water<br /><br />400g bread flour<br />9g instant yeast<br />12g Kosher salt<br /> 400g warm water
gasgirl September 3, 2014
thanks Dyana....I appreciate longer bake with volume....
Dyana W. September 3, 2014
Happy to help! :)
deborah L. April 9, 2018
these were the measurements put into the revised recipe. BUT, some don't add up- water 200gm = 1 cup, water 400gm= 1 1/2 cup<br />yeats 12 gm in recipe, 8 gm in comment<br />salt 8 gm in recipe, 12 gm in comment<br />oops?<br />
Jeffrey B. August 30, 2014
What is the recommended temperature for baking?
Author Comment
Erin M. September 2, 2014
In step 6, I recommend heating the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit - seems hot, but it most emulates the temperature of a bread baking oven!
Dyana W. August 30, 2014
Based on the article itself, oven temp 475F, turn down to 400F if overbrowning, bulk proof 1h, I'd say preheat the stone as long as you usually preheat your stone for :)
Author Comment
Erin M. September 2, 2014
Thanks Dyana, I've adjusted the recipe here to reflect the article's specifics!
Karole August 30, 2014
Agree with Adam - weight, not volume measurement for flour is essential for bread recipes.
zephyr050 August 29, 2014
Oven temp? Preheat stone how long?
Shades August 29, 2014
Recipe is missing bulk ferment and oven temp.<br />
Author Comment
Erin M. September 2, 2014
Hi Shades! In step 3, I say to bulk ferment the dough in a lightly oiled bowl until double in size, 1 hour. In step 6, I recommend heating the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Thanks!
Adam August 29, 2014
Any chance you could add weights instead of just volumes?