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Tomato-Olive Ciabatta

  • Author: Tessa
  • Yield: 2 large loaves 1x


The original recipe is from Food & Wine, September 2014. I’m anxious to make this bread again with some fine tuning, and I’ll update here when I do so. The recipe below is still impressive and addictive, though, so don’t hesitate to make it as shown! If you’re usually gluten free, this is an excellent occasion for which to “cheat”.


  • 6 T olive oil
  • 4 C chopped yellow onions (about 2 medium)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 C kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
  • 1/2 C cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3/4 oz. active dry yeast (not instant; 3 envelopes)
  • 1 t granulated white sugar
  • 1 3/4 C warm water
  • 2 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 3/4 C semolina flour (fine ground; I used Bob’s Red Mill)


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high, adding 3 tablespoons olive oil after it’s warmed up. Heat the oil until it shimmers and slides easily around the pan, then add onions and cook for about 8 minutes, until starting to brown. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the paste has broken up to coat the onions. Reduce heat to medium low, stir in olives and fresh tomatoes, and cook for another minute. Turn off heat and stir in salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Pour warm water into a large glass or metal bowl, then add sugar and sprinkle yeast over the top. Whisk to combine, then let stand for 10 minutes. There should be a flat foam forming on the surface, but it won’t be anything dramatic.
  3. Whisk 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt into the yeast mixture. In a few batches, add both the regular flour and semolina and stir by hand each time until incorporated. The dough will form a somewhat fluid ball and you should see no more pockets of flour. Pour 1 tablespoon oil around the edges where the dough meets the bowl, then use your hands or a rubber spatula to gently rotate the dough to coat in oil, so it comes out easily at the end.
  4. Cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for an hour and a half. If needed, turn on your oven to a low temperature (e.g., 250) and place the dough on top of the stove, assuming the stove is above the oven and some heat radiates up. The dough should be significantly bulkier and risen.
  5. If you have time, refrigerate the dough for an hour or two, which should firm it up so it’s easier to work with.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 and flour a large work surface (I used 1/2 C flour). Lightly oil a rimmed sheet pan or cover with a silicone baking liner (my SilPat was fine at 450).
  7. Gently turn the dough out onto the work surface and sprinkle the top with more flour. I found it easiest to work with dough with a light coating of olive oil on my hands.
  8. Divide dough into two equal halves with a bench scraper or by hand. Working the dough very little, pile each piece into a ball shape. One at a time, transfer to the baking sheet and shape into a long loaf, the length of the pan by about 3 inches wide. My dough was very liquidy and my loaves kept flattening to more than 3 inches. Twisting them a bit helped, but if it’s unavoidable keep as much space between the loaves as possible. Some flour may also be visible on the outside of the loaves, which is fine.
  9. Bake for about 28 minutes, until small areas of the top are browning. The original recipe indicates that finished loaves should have risen in the oven. However, mine didn’t rise further during baking.
  10. Cool on the baking sheet until firm enough to handle without breaking. Then, pick up and transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Serve in slices of your desired size, alone, or with olive oil or butter.