This small batch ciabatta recipe uses just one cup (120 grams) of flour to make a mini loaf of ciabatta bread with a gorgeous, flour-dusted crust and soft, airy interior.
One batch of mini ciabatta is the perfect size for one or two people to share, while still being small enough to make in a toaster oven. Bake it as one whole loaf or portion it into two long sandwich loaves or four dinner rolls! How you use it is really up to you.
Just like my super popular mini focaccia, small batch crusty bread, and small batch baguette recipes, this small batch ciabatta recipe is perfect for when you want ciabatta, but don't want to use up a large amount of flour to make it.
This single ciabatta roll recipe is an ideal size if you live alone and are baking only for yourself, or for you and just one other person. It's also great if you just don't want to use up all your baking ingredients.
For a full size version of this recipe, check out my 3-hour soft baked ciabatta bread, or my roasted garlic olive oil ciabatta bread. You can also use this mini ciabatta loaf to make a few slices of cheesy ciabatta garlic bread or a papermoon cheesesteak sandwich!
- About This Recipe
- Ingredient Notes
- Instructions: Mixing Ciabatta Dough
- Resting and Folding (Bulk Fermentation)
- Shaping and Baking - How to Get Ciabatta's Unique Stripes
- A Note on Temperature and Dough Rising
- Suggested Equipment
- Storage Notes
- Practical Tips and Recipe Notes
- BONUS: Weight to Volume (Cups) Conversion + Instructions
- Recipe FAQ - Overnight rise, troubleshooting folding, wet/dry dough, sourdough, etc?
- TL;DR - Recipe Summary
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
About This Recipe
This small batch ciabatta recipe uses just 120 grams of flour in the dough. That's just one cup — ONE CUP! — of flour.
To make this mini ciabatta you'll need 3 grams (1 teaspoon) instant yeast, which means one packet of instant yeast (7 grams / 2¼ teaspoons) can make two batches of mini ciabatta.
To develop gluten and give the mini ciabatta bun strength and structure to rise in the oven with big air bubbles inside, this recipe uses a gentler technique called folding to work the dough.
Because ciabatta is a very free-form bread, you don't need a special pan to bake it. Just plop it onto a parchment lined sheet pan, and you can bake this mini ciabatta in your oven or in a toaster oven if that's all you've got!
Ciabatta is a high hydration bread made using flour, salt, yeast, water, and sometimes olive oil. Typically it is made using a high protein bread flour and a pre-ferment like a poolish or a biga and requires long, slow rise times to build that airy texture.
For this small batch ciabatta recipe, I've made adjustments to my usual base soft ciabatta recipe, which takes 3 hours, to speed up the timing to just about 2 hours. That way you don't have to work so long just to make one small loaf!
Here are the ingredients that you'll need to make this mini ciabatta! See recipe card (at the end of the post) for ingredient quantities.
- Flour - Regular all purpose flour! I use King Arthur Baking Company's all purpose flour which has a slightly higher protein content (closer to a bread flour, which gives you a chewier, more elastic bread) than other brands of all-purpose flour, so if you're using a different brand of flour you may have better results with their bread flour.
- Yeast - This recipe uses instant yeast (sometimes called "rapid rise" or "bread machine" yeast). If using active dry yeast, increase the amount of yeast by 25%.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which is half as salty as other brands and has larger crystals that dissolve easily. If measuring by weight (as you should be!), you can use any brand of salt (table salt or fine sea salt will be just fine). But if you're measuring by volume (teaspoons) and using a different brand of salt, even a different brand of kosher salt, cut the amount of salt in half.
- Water - The water should be warm to the touch but not hot. If you have an instant read thermometer, you're aiming for somewhere around 85°F.
- Olive Oil - I like using a robustly flavored extra virgin olive oil here to bring that flavor to the dough. The olive oil also helps make the dough super soft and stretchy.
Instructions: Mixing Ciabatta Dough
Making this mini ciabatta takes just about 2-ish hours, start to finish. It's a very hands off bread recipe that is meant to have a rustic, imperfect shape.
There's three 20 minute resting periods, one 30 minute resting period, and one 5-30 minute resting period, so the amount of active work time is minimal.
If you're new to baking or bread making this is a great place to start. You can do this!
5 star reader review
“As someone who’s new to bread making, this recipe is extremely easy to follow and makes absolutely delicious bread. My husband and I were thoroughly impressed with the results and I’ve been looking for a way to make them every day since.”—Hannah
Start by whisking the flour, salt, and instant yeast together in a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the center for the liquids.
Use a dough whisk to mix them together until a sticky, messy dough forms.
A dough whisk is great for mixing sticky, wet doughs. And this is a VERY STICKY, VERY WET dough. If you don't have a dough whisk, a spatula or your hands will work just fine.
Scrape any excess flour off the sides of the bowl, and use lightly damp hands to gather the sticky dough into a messy ball at the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Resting and Folding (Bulk Fermentation)
After the dough has been mixed, it's time to let it rest. During this one hour rest (called "bulk fermentation"), you're going to periodically build strength and structure into the dough using a technique called folding.
By letting the ciabatta dough rest between these sets of folds, air bubbles and gas (produced by the yeast) are trapped inside the dough's gluten network, which gives the ciabatta an open, soft, and airy crumb.
I know, it sounds complicated! But all you really need to know is it's a one hour rest, with folds every 20 minutes. That's three sets of folds total.
After the initial 20 minute rest, you'll do the first set of folds. Gently grab the top edge of dough with a damp hand and stretch it away from you. Then fold it down over the center of the dough, like you're folding it in half. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat all the way around, tucking all the edges up across the center.
On the first set of folds the dough might feel very weak or even tear slightly. That's okay. Just keep going. It will continue to strengthen as you keep folding.
In the photo above you can see I already did one fold (from right to left). Then I rotated the bowl a quarter turn and am now grabbing the new top edge of dough and stretching it away from me. I will then pull it forward and fold it down over the center, over the previous folded flap of dough.
On the last stretch and fold, flip the dough over so the seam side is facing down. Scoop the dough up with a lightly damp hand to do a few slap-and-folds in the bowl.
This is the same slap-and-fold technique from my mini focaccia recipe. As always, use damp hands to keep the dough from sticking to you.
Just because it's called "slap" and fold doesn't mean it has to be aggressive. If the dough is slippery on the outside from your hands it won't stick to the bowl with a satisfying "slap". That's totally okay! As long as you're folding it over itself, you're doing it right.
Each time you pick up the dough to do a new slap and fold, slide your hand under end that just folded over so that you're rotating the dough 90 degrees between folds.
On the first fold in the set, the dough is fully relaxed and will be easier to stretch. By the final fold in the set, you'll notice you can't stretch it quite as much. That's because the gluten network is getting stronger.
Don't overdo the folding or force the dough to stretch further than it wants to — four folds in the bowl followed by four slap-and-folds is plenty. You don't want the dough to start tearing.
Each time you do a set of folds you'll notice the dough feeling airier, smoother, and stronger.
The dough will relax into the bottom of the bowl between sets of folds, then tighten up as you fold it.
Learning what the dough "should" feel like takes practice. Pay attention as you do the folds — when it looks smooth and doesn't want to stretch much anymore, stop folding. Cover the dough and let it rest.
When the hour is up after the final set of folds, flip the dough so the seam side of the dough is underneath, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 30 minutes. This is the end of the bulk fermentation period.
From this point on, we want the dough to focus on letting those gorgeous air bubbles ciabatta is known for develop. Handle the dough as little as possible to avoid collapsing the bubbles!
Start preheating your oven during this resting period. (If you're using a toaster oven you can wait to start preheating at the end of the resting period!)
Shaping and Baking - How to Get Ciabatta's Unique Stripes
Dust the top of the dough in the bowl with flour. Then gently tip the dough out of the bowl and onto a floured surface so that the sticky, un-floured side is facing up. Dust that lightly with flour too.
If you're going to cut your ciabatta into smaller ciabatta buns or ciabatta rolls, this is the time to do it. You can also just leave the loaf whole, that's fine too.
- Cut in half: Each half is perfect for a sausage sandwich, hoagie, etc.
- Cut in quarters: Soft dinner rolls, mini sliders, etc.
- Cut into breadsticks: Follow the instructions for shaping these twisted ciabatta breadsticks.
Use a sharp knife or bench scraper in a clean up-and-down motion to make your cuts, and leave the cut edges facing open. Don't tuck them under or try to hide them. Ciabatta is a very loose bread — no fancy shaping required.
Then cover the dough with a clean towel and let it rest for about 5-30 minutes before moving on to the next step. The longer you let it rest the airier it will be inside.
As the dough rests, it expands, and the flour on the countertop underneath the dough gets trapped in the wrinkled creases, creating a unique striped pattern.
To reveal those beautiful tiger stripes and give this mini ciabatta its own special fingerprint, flip the dough over as you transfer it onto the sheet pan, right before baking.
This is a trick I picked up in a class at King Arthur Baking HQ in Vermont. And while it's technically optional, it gives the ciabatta such a pretty pattern on top. I never skip it.
Slide a metal bench scraper under the ciabatta in one quick motion. This will help and unstick any parts of the dough that may have stuck to the counter and make it easier to lift.
Gently flip the dough off the bench scraper and onto a lined sheet pan so the bottom is facing up. See how the flour has those beautiful striped creases in it?
Don't have a bench scraper? Use your hands to gently lift and flip the ciabatta. It'll be fine.
Ciabatta is a very freeform loaf — you can try to gently stretch or shape it into a square or an oval or a circle, but ultimately it's going to be a bit unpredictable.
Bake the mini ciabatta for 20-22 minutes at 450F. It will be slightly paler around the sides, but a beautiful golden color on top peeking through the flour.
NOTE: If you cut the dough into smaller rolls, reduce the bake time by 2-3 minutes.
When you take the ciabatta out of the oven it will feel hard and very crusty. Don't worry about it — it will soften as it cools.
Let it cool before slicing. You can let it cool on the sheet pan or transfer it to a cooling rack, either is fine.
If you cut it while it's still hot, the steam and moisture trapped inside will turn the starches to mush. No one wants that!
A Note on Temperature and Dough Rising
Temperature is the main factor in determining how quickly or slowly your dough rises (proofs). This includes the temperature of ingredients in your dough, as well as the ambient temperature of the room where you are leaving your dough to rise.
In baking, "room temperature" is generally somewhere around 70-75°F.
Depending on how cool or warm your water is, and how cool or warm your kitchen is, your dough may rise faster or slower.
- Warmer temperatures increase yeast activity. (But temperatures over 110F can kill it!)
- Cooler temperatures slow yeast activity. (For a long, slow proof, put the dough in the fridge overnight after the final set of folds.)
If your dough is rising slowly and your kitchen is cold, find somewhere warmer to put your dough during the resting periods. If your kitchen is very warm, your dough might be a lot more active and ready to bake sooner than the times given in the recipe.
Just because the dough isn't ready right at the times given in the recipe doesn't mean it's not working — there might be other factors affecting how quickly or slowly it gets there! You may need to make adjustments.
5 star reader review
“This is the first time that a recipe from the internet actually worked as advertised for me. Now I don't have to drive several miles every few days to have great ciabatta rolls.”—Jim T.
You really don't need a lot of fancy equipment to make a mini ciabatta, but here's a few that might make the process easier for you!
- Kitchen Scale - The most accurate way to measure ingredients for baking! For best results with this recipe, you'll need to use a kitchen scale.
- Dough Whisk - A dough whisk is one of my favorite whisks! It's a sturdy, mostly open wire coil that is designed to make mixing sticky wet doughs easy. The coil cuts through the dough easily, breaking up any sneaky lumps of flour hiding inside.
- Bowl Scraper - A flexible plastic bowl scraper is a great way to fold the dough over itself in the bowl. You don't need one; a damp hand is fine. But if you don't love the feeling of dough sticking to your hands or want help gently releasing the dough from the bowl and onto the counter, a bowl scraper is the tool for you.
- Bench Scraper - A flat metal bench scraper with a thin edge is great for cutting your mini ciabatta dough into smaller portions AND for sliding under the dough to lift and flip it before it goes into the oven. Again, you don't need to use one, but it can be helpful!
- Flour Duster - Ciabatta is a very floury bread, but too much flour can be unpleasant! A flour duster helps you get a nice, even dusting of flour on your mini ciabatta without overdoing it.
- Instant Read Thermometer - To check the temperature of your water!
- Baking Steel - [OPTIONAL!] If you have a baking steel or pizza stone, you can launch your mini ciabatta directly onto it and bake it that way instead of on a sheet pan.
I highly doubt your mini ciabatta will last long enough to require storage, but it will last for 3-5 days in an airtight container or plastic bag.
Once you cut your ciabatta open and expose the inside to air, it will go stale faster, even in a plastic bag. As always, do not refrigerate bread.
You can freeze mini ciabatta for later — wrap it well with plastic or foil, then tuck inside a resealable bag and press as much air out as possible. To reheat from frozen, unwrap the bread and place the whole loaf in a 350°F oven for about 10-15 minutes.
Practical Tips and Recipe Notes
- Be gentle with ciabatta dough. The folding process is as much about incorporating air as it is about building strength into the dough. You don't want to knock all the air out of it. Once it's in its final rest, you want to handle it as little as possible to preserve as much of the air inside the dough as possible. This doesn't mean you can't gently stretch it into a long rectangle shape or cut it into rolls — just use very gentle pressure! Think "fingertip light" pressure. Tug on it gently, don't squish or pinch.
- Keeping Track of Timing: To keep track of your timing with the folds, set a 20 minute timer and a 1 hour timer (or one hour and two minute timer) when you finish mixing the dough. Reset the 20 minute timer when you do the first set of folds. When you do the second set of folds, there should be about 20 minutes left on the 1 hour timer (it may be off by a minute or two given the time it takes to do the folds themselves!).
- A note on oven temperature: Most ovens do not run true to temperature! In my past three apartments my ovens were off from anywhere to 50 to 20 degrees and all of them would tell me they were at the right temperature 15 minutes before they actually were. This can make a huge difference in how your bread turns out. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is at the right temperature.
- Dust off excess flour before baking: Some people like a super floury ciabatta, others prefer less flour on the outside. Whatever flour is on top of your ciabatta loaf when it goes into the oven is going to be there when it comes out If you prefer a less floury ciabatta, dust it off.
- Baking at high altitude: Increase the water to 110 grams. You can add up to an additional 2-3 grams of water beyond that if it still seems very dry or use wet hands for the folding stages. You may also find that a higher protein bread flour works better for you!
BONUS: Weight to Volume (Cups) Conversion + Instructions
I really debated whether or not to include volume measurements here, because measuring your ingredients with a kitchen scale is much more accurate and will give you the right ratio of dry and liquid ingredients so that the ciabatta dough behaves the way you want it to.
I tested and developed this recipe using weight measurements for accuracy. I can't promise how it will turn out if you measure with cups because not all cups are the same! That said, I am making a rare exception and providing them for you here. **Please read this carefully!!**
- To properly scoop flour in cups: Stir and fluff the flour in your container well so there's plenty of air in it. Use a spoon to gently spoon the flour into the one cup measure, then sweep any excess off the top. The cup should feel pretty light and the flour should not be tightly packed into it.
- To properly measure water: Use a liquid measuring cup. Place it on a flat surface, fill with water just until the water reaches the correct marker when you look at it at eye level.
- To properly measure with measuring spoons: Scoop dry ingredients flat, do not use heaping scoops. Olive oil should not overflow the rim of the measuring spoon.
Here are the volume measurements (use at your own risk):
- 1 scant cup all purpose flour, well aerated and properly scooped (see above)
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 ¼ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (use ½ teaspoon of any other brand of salt)
Troubleshooting: If the dough seems overly dry, use wet (instead of damp) hands to mix the dough to incorporate more water or add water ¼ teaspoon at a time until the dough looks right. If the dough seems overly wet and isn't developing strength as you fold it, very lightly dust in more flour as you do the folds.
If you measure with cups and the recipe did not turn out right, that is likely why the recipe did not turn out right. Try again!
Recipe FAQ - Overnight rise, troubleshooting folding, wet/dry dough, sourdough, etc?
First of all, take a deep breath. It will be okay. If you find it easier to just do stretch and folds, stick to those the whole time. If you find the gentle slap and fold is easier for you, do that the whole time. You can also use a plastic bench scraper or a spatula to help fold the dough over itself in the bowl. There are a lot of different folding techniques out there — coil folds, etc. Pick the one that you're comfortable with and do about 8 of them total. It doesn't matter that you do them perfectly. It just matters that the gluten network in the dough is getting folded at all. If there's a different method or technique that works better for you — use it!
I usually stretch a plastic bowl cover over the top of the bowl. You can also lay a clean dish towel over the mouth of the bowl. Avoid having anything that's lying in direct contact with the dough. Once you get to the final 5-minute bench rest, the dish towel can go directly on top of the floury dough.
If your dough seems too dry, use wet hands instead of damp hands to incorporate more water while you're mixing or folding the dough until it looks like it does in my photos. This should definitely not feel like a dry dough.
If the dough seems too wet, my first piece of advice is to just keep going with the recipe. This is a wet dough and many of my recipe testers told me they thought their dough was too wet when it was actually just right.
If your dough is SO wet that it is still tearing and not stretching during the second set of folds, then you can dust in a tiny amount of flour. But really try to avoid dusting in more flour during the mixing or folding stages. This is a small recipe, a small amount of flour can dramatically change the outcome of your bread!
Yes! After the final set of folds, instead of a 30 minute rest at room temperature, cover the bowl and place it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, flour the top of the dough, tip it onto a floured countertop, and proceed with the recipe as written from there. You may need to add an extra 2-5 minutes to the bake time.
You can, but you'll still need to use commercial yeast to help with the speed of the recipe. Use 50 grams 100% hydration sourdough discard or fed starter, reduce the amount of water to 80 grams, and reduce the amount of flour to 95 grams. Everything else remains the same!
TL;DR - Recipe Summary
- Mix the flour, salt, and yeast together.
- Pour the water and olive oil into the dry ingredients. Mix to form a shaggy dough.
- Cover and bulk ferment for 1 hour with folds every 20 minutes (a total of 3 sets of folds).
- After the final set of folds, cover and rest for 30 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured counter and dust the top with flour too. Cover and rest for 5-30 minutes.
- Immediately before baking, flip the dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan to reveal the floury stripes.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes at 450°F. Let cool before slicing.
Small Batch Mini Ciabatta
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and instant yeast. Make a well in the middle of the bowl; pour the warm water and olive oil into it.
- Mix with a dough whisk until the dough comes together in a messy ball in the bowl. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, make sure there's no sneaky lumps of flour hiding inside. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
- First set of folds: Use a damp hand to gently grab the top edge of the dough, stretching it away from you, then down over the center of the dough. Then rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat, grabbing the new top edge, stretching it away from you, then folding it down over the center. Repeat two more times for a total of four folds. On the last fold, flip the dough over and do a gentle slap and fold in the bowl by scooping the dough up in one hand, "slapping" the side closest to you it down in the bowl and folding the dough over itself and away from you as you slide your hand out from under it. Rotate the dough or the bowl a quarter turn between each set of folds, so you're always sliding your hand under the tucked under edge of dough facing away from you. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.If the dough is wet it won't stick to the side of the bowl and you will have a less dramatic "slap"; that's okay. What really matters is that repeated folding motion.
- Second set of folds: Use a damp hand to repeat the 4 stretch-and-folds followed by 4-5 slap and folds in the bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
- Third set of folds: Perform one final set of stretch-and-folds and slap-and-folds in the bowl. Do your best to get all edges tucked underneath with nice smooth surface tension on top of the dough. The dough should feel much more bubbly and airy at this stage and won't stretch as far as it did on the earlier sets of folds. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.The dough will spread out and rise slightly in the bowl during this final rest, but may not double in size.
- Preheat the oven (or toaster oven) to 450°F while the dough rests.
- Dust the top of the dough in the bowl with flour, then gently tip it out of the bowl and on to a well-floured clean countertop so that the un-floured side is now facing up. Be patient and gentle with the dough so it doesn't deflate.
- Dust the sticky top side of the dough lightly with flour. If you're cutting it into smaller rolls, do so now using a sharp bench scraper in clean up and down movements. Cover with a clean dish towel and let the dough rest for about 5-30 minutes. If you need to let it keep resting for another 5-10 minutes while the oven gets to temp that's okay — just cover it with a clean dish towel so it doesn't dry out. It's better to get it in the oven at the right temperature than to rush it!
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Dust any excess flour off the top of the dough, then slide a bench scraper under the ciabatta loaf in one quick movement. Lift and gently flip it over onto the sheet pan so the underside is now facing up. For a less floury ciabatta, gently dust any excess flour off the top. If you don't have a bench scraper, use your hands to flip it.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes until puffed up and browned on top. If you want to be precise, you're looking for an internal temperature of at least 190F. For a softer ciabatta, bake for 18 minutes. Ciabatta will seem very hard and crusty when it first comes out of the oven, but will soften as it cools. Let cool before slicing!
- For a slightly tighter crumb with smaller air pockets inside, reduce the amount of water to 100 grams.
- To bake on a baking steel preheat the oven for 1 hour at 450F. Launch the loaves onto the steel using a pizza peel with or without parchment paper and bake for 18-20 minutes.
- Resist adding flour to the dough during the folding stages. This is a wet, sticky dough by design — use damp or lightly oiled hands to keep it from sticking to you instead.
- If you cut the dough into smaller rolls, reduce the bake time by 2-3 minutes.
- Baking at high altitude: Increase the water to 110 grams. You can add up to an additional 2-3 grams of water beyond that if it still seems very dry. Use wet hands for the folding stages. You may also find that a higher protein bread flour works better for you!