Ciabatta, Pan Bagna, & Garlic Bread

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Hands-on time:
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Yield: 2 loaves

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We love this recipe. It yields an extremely light, air pocket-riddled loaf, wonderful for splitting lengthwise, to make a stuffed sandwich (pan bagna), or the best garlic bread you've ever enjoyed.

Ciabatta, Pan Bagna, & Garlic Bread

star rating (50) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time: Overnight,
Yield: 2 loaves
Published: 01/01/2010


Overnight starter


  • all of the starter (from above)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Topping for Garlic Bread

  • 1 medium head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled (about 15 medium cloves)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • pinch (1/16 teaspoon) of salt
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • snipped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Tips from our bakers

  • Because this dough is so soft, it's virtually impossible to knead it by hand. Please use an electric mixer or your bread machine to knead the dough.
  • For extra-crispy loaves: When they're done baking, turn off the oven. Remove the loaves from the baking sheet, and return them to the oven, propping the oven door open a couple of inches with a folded-over potholder. Allow the loaves to cool completely in the oven.


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1) To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Cover the starter and let it rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours. It will become bubbly.

2) Place all of the dough ingredients, including the starter, into the bowl of your mixer, and beat at medium speed, using the flat beater, for 7 minutes. The dough will be very smooth, soft, shiny, and elastic. Alternatively, knead the dough ingredients in your bread machine using the dough cycle.

3) Transfer the dough to a greased bowl or other rising container, cover it, and let it rise for 2 hours, deflating it midway through. If you're using a bread machine, allow it to rise for an additional hour after the dough cycle has ended.

4) Lightly grease your work surface, and a half-sheet baking pan (18" x 13") or similar large baking sheet. Grease your hands, as well.

5) Very gently turn the dough out of the bowl onto your work surface; you don't want to deflate it. It'll lose a bit of volume, but don't actively punch it down.

6) Using a bowl scraper, bench knife, or your fingers, divide the dough in half. You should have two fat logs, each about 10" long x 4" wide.

7) Handling the dough gently, transfer each piece to the baking sheet, laying them down crosswise on the sheet. Position them about 2 1/2" from the edge of the pan, leaving about 4" between them.

8) Lightly cover the dough with heavily oiled plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for 60 to 90 minutes. Midway through, gently but firmly dimple the dough with your fingers, making fairly deep pockets. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

9) Spritz the risen loaves with lukewarm water. You'll see that the dimples have filled in somewhat, but haven't entirely disappeared.

10) Bake the loaves till they're golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.

11) To make garlic bread: Prepare the topping by combining the minced garlic cloves, melted butter, olive oil and a pinch of salt.

12) Cut the loaves in half lengthwise, like you're going to make giant sandwiches.

13) Spread the cut halves with the garlic mixture.

14) Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and the edges of the bread are starting to brown.

15) Remove the bread from the oven, and sprinkle it immediately with the grated Parmesan and parsley, if desired. Cut in crosswise slices to serve.

16) To make pan bagna (a stuffed Italian sandwich): Split a ciabatta in half lengthwise, and brush each half with olive oil.

17) Fill the ciabatta with Italian cold cuts, provolone cheese, chopped olives, softened sun-dried tomatoes, sliced red onions, lettuce, basil leaves, sliced peppers or pimientos, or any combination of any similar sandwich-type fillings.

18) Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and top with a weighted baking sheet (a baking sheet with a couple of bricks or heavy cans on top).

19) Let the pan bagna rest under the weights for a couple of hours, then slice and serve.


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  • star rating 01/17/2015
  • from
  • star rating 07/29/2014
  • Paula from Lowell,MA
  • I've been making this zip Ciabatta for years. It's so easy. Delicious! And sort of FUN! Our favorite use for it is BLT's on Ciabatta. I've even given these out as a gift to some friends!!! Tonight I'm using this ciabatta in Panzanella Salad. . . I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks
  • star rating 11/26/2013
  • nmr82 from KAF Community
  • In my search for figuring out how to make a holier baguette, I came across this recipe. In the past 2 weeks, I've made it twice. My husband says its the best bead he's ever eaten, even comparing it to the fresh italian breads you can get in the North End of Boston. Easy to make, though the first time I was convinced I screwed something up and almost threw the dough out.
    You can try this recipe using 25% white whole wheat flour (see what the taste and texture results are) and working up to 50% - but not beyond - that will take a recipe written just for whole wheat flour. We haven't tried this in a GF version - but our GF conversion conundrum blog suggests recipe transition from wheat to GF start with equal amounts of GF flour for the wheat flour AND 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum per cup of flour. Bear in mind, this will be an experiment - we'd love to hear your results! Happy Baking! Irene@KAF I would love for a gluten-free and white wheat version of this recipe---my husband hates white bread.
  • 10/24/2013
  • Jacque from MA
  • I'm curious, how do you measure 1/16 of a tsp? How many granules is that?
    It's just a pinch, Jacque! 1/16 teaspoon isn't a spoon you'll find in a standard set of measures, so the pinch of yeast will be fine - happy baking - Irene@KAF
  • star rating 07/28/2013
  • Donna from Holly Springs, NC
  • I bake a lot of bread but this one was a disaster. I kept telling myself the dough was too soft, but the blog stated a number of times that this was an extremely soft dough. Everything was fine until the final rise - nothing happened. It spread in width, but did not rise. I baked anyway and will use as a pizza crust since I hate to throw anything away.
    Kudos to you for referring to the blog - it's such a helpful tool. More flour will be your best friend to get a better loaf in your humid climate. There's a line between wet dough and too wet to keep it's shape. Start with a couple tablespoons and see if that makes a difference in the final shape. You can always call our Baker's Hotline at 855-371-2253 and we'll help you get to the results we both expect. Happy Baking - Irene@KAF
  • star rating 04/02/2013
  • AZ93 from Caribbean
  • The taste of this bread was, as usual for KAF breads, fantastic. My problem was that it resulted in a very, VERY crunchy flatbread. I have since been told by one of your helpful hotline staff that I may have left it too long for the second rise. Ok! But I still have a couple of questions. The recipe says to leave it "overnight" but no more than 15 hours. What is the minimum, or ideal? I had decent rises, but am wondering if my overnight (7 hours) wasn't long enough. Question 2- how soft should the dough be when you pull it out of the mixing bowl (just after mixing, for first rise)? Just slightly softer than a regular bread, or should it almost pull apart like a wet pizza dough? That texture part is what I'm not sure I got right. It seemed like I had a good, slightly wet texture, but my dough totally spread out on my pan. Does that mean there wasn't enough flour? And last question, the first and second rise times differ between this recipe and your on-line class recipe. Which one is correct, or does it matter? Anyway, I refuse to take any stars away because I know it's my inexperience. Plus, however thin and crunchy, this bread was delicious! Sorry for all the questions but I thought others might also benefit from some of the answers. Thanks in advance from a slightly disheartened but hopeful bread maker. :)
  • star rating 02/05/2013
  • Annie from Maryland
  • I don't know what I did wrong, I have a large kitchenaid mixer but the dough knotted up around the paddle and almost knocked the bowl off the stand. My bread was good but the texture was a little hard. I am new to breadmaking so it may have been me.
    I am happy you are trying some bread recipes! Your mixer should have been able to handle this size recipe as it is a standard amount. By the sounds of the texture you are describing, it may be an issue of measuring too much flour for the recipe. Please take a look on our Recipe page under How to Measure Flour located at the bottom of the page. Too much flour would make the texture drier and the dough consistency would be a chore for your mixer, too! Also, give us a call 1-855-371-BAKE (2253) to speak with a baker about any further questions you may have. Elisabeth
  • star rating 11/22/2012
  • Terry from Philly PA
  • star rating 07/23/2012
  • TheBakingHusband from KAF Community
  • Someday I'll make ciabatta correctly, with those huge holes. That day hasn't come yet. But I will recommend to anyone reading this: add 8 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten to the recipe. It helps with shape a lot. What I *really* signed on to rave about, though, is the pan bagna. Only drizzle olive oil on the top half of the sandwich bread, so the bottom doesn't get too soggy! Also, whatever wet ingredients you put on the sandwich, dry them first by firmly pressing them between some paper towels. Do this with tomatoes, roasted peppers, crushed hots (mmmm...), pickles, and anything else juice-producing and you'll get a sandwich that's much less messy to eat. Compressing the sandwich as directed in the recipe is KEY, as it ensures that your meal will not fall apart while you're eating it. If you follow these guidelines, this sandwich will be better than pretty much any Italian sub you can get anywhere. My wife and I loaded a loaf up with lettuce, salami, mortadella, capricola, provolone, tomatoes, red onions, roasted red peppers, crushed hots, and pickles. (whew!) A comparably loaded sub costs us about $8 at a down-home Italian place the next town over, but this recipe makes MORE food for about $3, we get fresh bread instead of a stale sub roll, and we don't have to drive to get it. KAF, absolute genius to include this wonderful use of the bread with the recipe.
  • star rating 03/20/2012
  • drdoodles from KAF Community
  • Excellent and very well received by the family.Light with a crunch to the crust after letting it cool in the oven after baking. I will definitely do this again.
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