Peasant (no-knead) Bread
Homemade Bread -- anyone can do it!
I love teaching this recipe to newbies to bread-making. It's super easy, and yields spectacular results! It is called "peasant bread" because it has such few (and inexpensive) ingredients. It is a free-form shape and so could also be called Artisan bread.
The loaf has a long rise time, so this is considered a "soaked grain bread," which has benefit in breaking down the gluten in the bread and starting the process of deactivating the phytic acid found particularly in whole grains. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in grains and legumes, which prevents the seed from sprouting (a good thing, so that we can save seeds!). But if it is not broken down, it will leach calcium and B-vitamins from our body, since these are needed to break down the phytic acid. This makes one wonder if the osteoporosis epidemic is related to the large consumption of foods made from grains that have not been properly prepared through sprouting, soaking or via the sourdough process.
Sourdough is the traditional form of breadmaking, breaking down the gluten and predigesting the starches, yielding a bread that is consistent with the pursuit of good health. Your bread will also have probiotics, resulting from the sourdough starter! So if you have access to a sourdough starter, use that version of the recipe to make a sourdough loaf. Make sure your starter has been fed well -- recently and multiple times -- so that it is active and viable, for the best rise on your loaf. For the highest quality starter, store your starter in this jar. Recommended size to store your sourdough starter would be .5 L, .75 L, or 1 L. If you are interested in learning sourdough, check out this class.
If you are interested in a breadmaking class, you can check it out here.
Peasant (no-knead) Bread
When choosing your ingredients, use home-grown, grass-fed and organic ingredients whenever possible.
3 cups (360 grams) flour* - weighing your flour produces the BEST results
1 tsp sea salt (Pink Himalayan)
1/4 tsp yeast (instant SAF brand)
1 1/3 cups water, non-chlorinated
*Note on flour: Use unbleached if this is your first-ever, breadmaking experience, i.e., organic or King Arthur All-Purpose recommended. After a little experience, you can venture into whole grains and ancient grains (Einkorn, Emmer, Spelt).
Note: Scroll down to see step-by-step photo tutorial.
Stir together dry ingredients. Then add water and stir until flour is incorporated. Dough will begin to take a rough shape of a ball. Use a scraper to clean the sides of the bowl and “shape” the dough into a round. Drizzle with olive oil
Cover bowl with plastic wrap or silicone cover if using a different bowl. Let dough rest (rise) for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 24 hours. (If longer than 12 hours, store in fridge.) The dough should have DOUBLED in size. If desired, refrigerate dough 1 hour before shaping, and it will be easier to handle.
After the wait time, “dump” the dough onto a well-floured surface or silicone pastry mat. Fold the dough in half using a scraper, and do this, rotating for approximately 5 times, adding a little flour as needed. Shape into a “boule” (French for “ball”), of if you want more of a French Bread shape, elongate the loaf into that shape.
Transfer the ball of dough to a piece of parchment paper. Cover the ball by inverting the bowl you mixed it in over the top, or by covering with the silicone pastry mat. This will keep the dough warm and moist. It is "key" to not let the dough dry out. If using stoneware, it’s time to preheat this in the oven, set to 425°. Set the timer for 30 minutes. (Note: If your kitchen is on the cool side, it could take up to 90 minutes at this phase of waiting for the dough to rise.) You can also bake in a cast iron Dutch oven or on a baking stone -- or a Pyrex dish or metal baking sheet, but results will vary. Only stones or cast iron will be preheated.
After 30 minutes, CAREFULLY remove the stoneware or cast iron from the oven and dust the bottom with coarsely ground oatmeal (this step not required if you are using parchment paper). Now, place the bread into the Baker (carefully) or on the baking stone, smooth side up. Cover with lid if available. Turn oven down to 400° and set timer for 30-35 minutes. Your bread should be perfect! Remove lid and wrap bread in a tea towel, or if you prefer a crispy crust, simply allow to cool on a rack. (If checking the internal temperature of your bread with a thermometer, it should read 195°-200°.)
Cool loaf on a cooling rack. Use a serrated knife for slicing with a back-and-forth sawing motion. Cool loaf completely before storing in a plastic bag. If this is your first loaf of bread, it is unlikely there will be any leftover bread to store!
Italian Version: Add to the flour 1 TBSP Italian or Pizza seasoning + freshly pressed garlic (or garlic powder or granules, to taste).
Cranberry/Walnut Version: Add to the flour 1/3 cup cranberries + 1/3 cup broken walnut or pecan pieces. You may also use 1-2 TBSP honey, if desired.
Sourdough Version: Replace the yeast in the recipe with 60 grams (1/4 cup) of active (freshly fed) starter.
Mediterranean Olive: Add 1 TBSP olive oil, 1 tsp thyme, 1 cup sliced olives (black, Kalamata, stuffed green), zest of 1 lemon (Be sure to refrigerate dough when using these ingredients instead of rising on the counter).
Seedy Loaf: At the time of mixing up the dough, add in 1/2 cup - 2/3 cup of assorted seeds, i.e., pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower.
Pizza Dough: One recipe is enough dough for 2 – 12” pizzas
An approximate 1 1/3 lb loaf of bread after baking.
Add a fresh loaf of bread to your menu today!
Photo Credits: Sarah Hager