Food + Wine

Peasant Bread

I’d like to think I would win any sort of contest that required me to eat bread. Is there somewhere out there where my bread dedication would be heralded and maybe I’d become mayor of a Bread town where they only pay me in bread and my house is also made of bread that magically never goes stale yet keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer?
Can I use it for healing powers?
Can I fight crime?

^^All things that go through my head when it’s bread eating time, which is every single morning in my life. If we go out to lunch or dinner, you and me… and you see me ordering things like salads or meats and veggies instead of sandwiches, please know that it is solely because I have already consumed my – and your – bread quota for the day.

The thing about me and bread is that I like to control the bread that I’m eating as much as possible. Bread means so much to me, that I will not allow an inferior product to enter my world. And I’m not saying I will only consume the bread that I, myself, have made… I’m only saying that while I love bread…

I do not love just any bread for the sake of being bread.

I have a few (very reasonable) requirements for the bread that I will eat, and therefore will fall madly in love with forever (there is no middle ground there).
And they are as follows :

  1. It must be soft, this bread. It must be able to be squished in the palm of my hand if I so desire and then resemble more of a compact, dough ball due to my palm-squishing.
    That’s been my test since I was a kid. I do not have ample reasons for why this has to be, but it is law.
    No dry bread ever.
    -Unless you’re toast, and then you must have once been so soft that now you are only toasty-crispy on your outer layer due exclusively from said toasting… but I’m still able to detect some major softness from your past-life once I get through my bite.
  2. If you are of the crusty crust variety, I will not reject you… but I will need you to be soft down in your center, ok? And if you cut my mouth with your crust, good day sir.
  3. I do not want seeds or stems or pieces of seeds or stemmy things in my bread,
    there I said it.
  4. I love a whole grain (yay fiber!), but if you’re not soft and borderline (but not really) squishable, or squishy-adjacent, good day sir.
  5. And finally – if you do not have flavor unless I put something with flavor on top of you,
    good day, sir
    and shame on you
    (talkin’ to you, pancake).

Now that we’re all clear on the rules, I shall proceed with the purpose of this here bread gathering.

As afore mentioned, I start every single morning of my life with bread. I bake 2 loaves of potato sourdough every week that I’ve been making for 17 years, and I have yet to grow tired of it. That’s the first thing after my coffee and my husband’s lips that touch mine after I’m awake. It’s all the things I want in the perfect bread. My kids grew up calling is Mushy Bread, which I know sounds gross, but it’s because the other breads they had been exposed to by other people feeding them bread were hard and grainy and black and crusty, and they needed a differentiation for confirmation on their own personal bread consumption.

I also make sandwich bread. I wrote that recipe during the pandemic when grocery shopping was so hard and I was tired of running out of sandwich bread. It’s awesome; highly recommended. This sandwich bread is the only bread I will use to make grilled cheeses when we’re having homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner. I’m lactose intolerant so it’s a big ordeal when I’m having a cheese day, therefore all the players better be in top shape for that game day (talkin’ to you, extra sharp cheddar).

And then the other bread recipe in heavy rotation in my home, is this Peasant Bread. I started making it during the pandemic, so we sometimes call it Pandemic Bread (we also have Pandemic Potatoes – that’s for another time). It’s an incredibly easy bread to make and can be done in just over 2 hours. I always have at least one round in my freezer to accompany a soup or pasta dinner… and it makes incredible croutons (don’t get me started on my crouton requirements).

The best part about making this bread is that you do not need to knead it. NO Needing to Knead! You do not even need to shape it. You’re literally mixing, rising, then dumping to rise a bit more before baking.
I love kneading bread, don’t get it twisted, but something about not having to complete a step of any kind makes me feel like a winner.

The ingredients are simple, the process is even simpler, it’s freezer friendly… honestly, there’s nothing not to like about this bread recipe.

So, while I’m not saying you need to be a bread superhero healer like myself to enjoy this recipe, or any of the ones above… I am saying you should absolutely trust me when I say that this bread recipe has the mayor’s stamp of approval.

Peasant Bread

makes 2 rounds / loaves

In your stand mixer, add the following :

  • 4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour OR bread flour (whole wheat could be subbed for 1/2 or all of the flour amount…it will just be much more dense and a little bit drier)
  • 4 tsp gluten (only if using all purpose flour to make your own bread flour – buy it in bulk HERE)
  • 2 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Mix with paddle attachment to combine.

While mixer is on, slowly add the following one at a time:

  • 4 TB unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups lukewarm water (should be like bath water; not too hot to scald and not too cool)

You will have a very sticky dough. Let this mix on medium-high for about a minute to really work out those glutens.

Use a greased rubber spatula to get all the dough off the sides and into one sticky mound. Grease the bottom and sides of that stand mixer bowl, and also the top of your dough *very well* with extra virgin olive oil. There should be a little pool of oil surrounding the dough – that’s how you know you’ve added enough.

Cover mixer bowl with plastic or a cloth, and allow dough to rise for up to 2 hours. It could take only 1 if the atmosphere is warm and humid enough, but allow it to double in volume (mine usually gets all the way to the top of the covering).

Grease 2 (1 – 1/2 quart) ceramic baking dishes with ample olive oil (or you can absolutely use another form of oven-safe bakeware that is between 1 and 1/2 quarts in size).

Once risen, ‘cut’ the dough down the middle with either a greased rubber spatula, or butter knife to create two sticky lumps of dough.

Plop these very sticky mounds into the well olive oiled baking dishes (greased hands help!).

Drizzle with more olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with flaky salt (such as Maldon – buy HERE)

Do not cover these dishes, but allow the dough to rise again for 10-20 minutes and preheat your oven to 425.

The dough should have risen about double once again.

Bake, in the center rack, at 425 degrees, for 15 minutes.

Reduce heat (do not open oven door!!) to 375 degrees and bake for another 17 minutes.

They should be golden brown at this point.

Carefully remove the bread and transfer immediately out of the dishes and onto a cooling rack.

Serve warm PLEASE.

…Unless you’re waiting to freeze them, in which case PLEASE allow to cool completely before wrapping completely air-tight.

I use THESE reusable (gallon size) plastic freezer storage bags for mine, and any other zip bag need in my house (yay environment!)

To view a short reel on Instagram of how easy this is to put together, click HERE 🙂

and that’s it! we did it! i’ve been doing a lot of writing that has taken my focus away from here juuust a bit.
but if you’re interested in keeping up with me over on medium, you’re welcome there too!

the latest thing i’ve written is brand new.

thanks for reading, ya’ll . much love x

Here are all the shopping links I provided above, in case you missed them :

Bulk bag gluten : https://amzn.to/3SDTSip

Maldon flaky sea salt : https://amzn.to/3SCeM1w

Gallon size reusable plastic freezer storage bags : https://amzn.to/4bidLmq

Mix pack, various sizes reusable plastic freezer storage bags : https://amzn.to/4bidLmq

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