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a close up of a ciabatta loaf on a sheet pan with a bulb of roasted garlic and pinch bowl of fennel seeds next to it. more ciabatta loaves are in a pile behind it.

roasted garlic and fennel olive oil ciabatta

This light and airy ciabatta bread with its distinctive flour-swirled crust comes packed with rich roasted garlic and fennel flavor. Serve it sliced thin to dip in oil or topped with bruschetta, or slice loaves in half and top with your favorite sandwich fillings.
Don’t like roasted garlic and fennel? Simply omit from the recipe.
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Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 25 mins
bulk fermentation 3 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 25 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 loaves


  • 1 garlic bulb (whole, roasted with fennel seeds)
  • 30 g olive oil (2 TBSP)
  • 540 g flour (4½ cups)
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 355 g warm water (1½ cups)


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Roast a bulb of garlic. Slice the top off a bulb of garlic. Place in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil (and fennel seeds, optional). Gather the foil loosely around the bulb in a teardrop shape. Roast for 40-45 minutes.
    Turn the oven off.
  • Mix the dough. Combine flour, salt, yeast, and  fennel seeds (if not roasted with the garlic) in a large, sturdy mixing bowl. Add the water, olive oil, and roasted garlic cloves and mix well with a bowl scraper or spatula, smashing the garlic cloves as you go.
    Keep mixing until a shaggy, wet dough forms. If dough still seems dry, drizzle a little more olive oil in and keep mixing until no dry spots are left.
  • Bulk fermentation & folding. Cover the dough and let it bulk ferment for the next 3 hours, with folds in the bowl every 30 minutes (a total of 6 sets of folds).
  • Preheat the baking steel. When the final set of folds is complete, let the dough rest for a final 30 minutes. Meanwhile, turn the oven to 500°F degrees with a baking steel on the center rack.
  • Shape ciabatta. Generously flour your countertop and gently release the dough from the bowl onto the counter. Loosely stretch it into an 8″x10″ rectangle approximately 2″ high. Dust the top generously with flour too.
  • Cut the loaves. Use a knife or a sharp-edged bench scraper to cut the dough into 2 long loaves, 4 medium loaves, or 8 rolls. Cover the rolls with a clean dish towel and let rest while the oven preheats, at least 30 minutes (up to an an hour is fine).
  • Flip the loaves. Trim parchment paper to size. Flip the loaves over to reveal the beautiful flour patterns and gently place onto parchment paper.
  • Launch onto the steel. Use a pizza peel or the back of a sheet tray to slide the rolls one or two at a time onto the baking stone until all of them fit. They’ll expand in the oven so you want to try to keep an inch of space between them.
  • Reduce temperature. After 5 minutes, reduce the temp to 450°F degrees, and continue baking for another 20-22 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown on top, firm on the sides, and feel light for their size. They should sound hollow when you tap the bottoms.
  • Cool. Let cool on a wire rack before eating. The loaves will soften as they cool.



  • Prep time includes roasting the garlic.
  • If you don’t have a baking stone or baking steel, use an inverted cookie sheet.
  • Ciabatta tends to dry out or harden quickly. These are best consumed within a few days of baking. To revive them on day 4 or 5, you can cut them in half, run the halves quickly under water, then place in a 250°F degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the water evaporates. I know, it sounds weird. But it totally works.
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment and let us how it was!