Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Easy Peasant Bread

When Jesus was tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread, he was said to have answered that man cannot live by bread alone.

March nor'easter view from LR window
That may certainly be true. We don't disagree, but freshly baked bread is so good alone, even better with a cup of home made soup. 

Both were enjoyed here last week during a winter nor'easter. In Nashua, NH, a snow emergency was declared when up to 12 inches were expected, actual totals were less, up to 9 inches. 

We had planned to leave on a road trip to Norwich, VT, last Tuesday morning and called to reschedule to find out while snowing heavily in NH, it was raining in VT. That reminded me of the 1954 film, White Christmas when this quartet on a train ride to VT sang about snow, only to find none on their arrival. 
This latest storm came after a one just two weeks ago when we drove to North Conway, NH, for a meet-up with friends from NJ. It snowed on our way there and during our 3-day stay. We were not ready for a repeat travel event. The roads were treacherous enough then.

Alexandra Stafford bread book
Now, without further delay, here's bread making, and
 this recipe is for Peasant Bread, a hands-off, no knead bread. It was the perfect weather day for chicken soup too.

It's not the first time I've made this bread recipe found online a couple at the website, Alexandra’s Kitchen, hosted by Alexandra Stafford. Since then, I also bought her cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs, which includes the recipe and more, just as easy.

Here's how the Peasant bread recipe differs from other no knead variations: It uses oven-safe (Pyrex) bowls, there's no preheating a cast iron pan (like for some artisan bread recipes) and rise time is faster. 

Start to end it takes about 3 hours and the golden, crisp loaves look wonderful without tasting, but eating is highly recommended. This bread is delicious and moist with a buttery crust crumb. After the basic recipe is mastered, it can be applied to other recipes.

Essentials: flour, yeast, salt, sugar, water, butter, mixing bowl, two 1-qt oven-safe glass bowls 

Peasant Bread Recipe (Alexandra Stafford)
4 C unbleached all-purpose flour 
2 tsp kosher salt
2 C lukewarm water *
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp instant yeast - whisked into flour without proofing
2 TBSP butter (about) room temperature to grease baking bowls

* Lukewarm water temp is 105℉ to 115℉, one that you can comfortably put your hands in. However, adding mixing one part room temperature water and two parts boiling water is also recommended to create lukewarm water. Ms. Stafford's method: mix 1⁄2 cup of boiling water with 1-1/2 cups of cold water; this ratio of hot to cold water will be the perfect temperature. 

Peasant bread dough mixed
Whisk together flour, salt, sugar, instant yeast, add lukewarm water. Mix until flour is absorbed and there's a sticky dough ball. 

Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Set aside in a warm spot* to rise for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  (In the winter or if the bread is rising in a cool place, it could take up to 2 hours.) 

* From the recipe, how to create a slightly warm spot for bread to rise in: Turn the oven on at any temperature (like 350℉) for one minute, then turn off and let the oven preheat for 1 minute to create a slightly warm environment for the bread to rise.

Grease 2 oven-safe bowls (1-qt Pyrex or similar) generously with butter. Using two forks, punch down the dough, scraping from the sides of the bowl. As you scrape it down try to turn the dough up onto itself to loosen entirely from the sides of the bowl, and make sure it's punched down. This was challenging, but it got done.
1-quart Pyrex bowls and butter
Then, using the forks, divide the dough into two equal portions, start from the center and work out, pulling the dough apart with the forks. Scoop each half into the butter prepared bowls. 

This can be very messy — It's recommended to scoop it up fast and drop it in the bowls all at once, but this dough is very wet and slippery. Using small forks or ones with short tines can make it easier according to the recipe. Another suggestion was to butter your hand to try and separate the dough. 

Let dough rise for 20 to 30 minutes on countertop near or on top of oven do not do warm-oven trick and do not cover bowls for second rise; 20 minutes in this spot usually is enough.

Preheat oven to 425℉ before second rise is done. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 375℉ and bake 15 to 17 minutes longer. 
Baked peasant bread cooling on rack

Remove from oven and turn loaves onto cooling rack. If the bowls have been well buttered, both loaves fall out easily. If loaves look too pale and soft when turned onto the rack, return to the oven without the bowls and bake 5 minutes longer. 

If you can resist let breads cool for 10 minutes before cutting — until fully cooled 😋.
It's so good when just baked or toasted the next day for breakfast; also works great for grilled cheese sandwiches and garlic bread.

Storing Leftover Bread
Eating freshly baked bread is hard to resistant, but there were leftovers. According to Ms. Stafford, the best method to store the bread at room temperature for 3-4 days is in a ziplock bag. She said that no other option kept it better than this method. A ziplock bag won't prevent the crust from turning soft, so reheat day-old bread in a toaster for slices at breakfast. Reheat half or quarter loaves for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven at 350ºF for dinner.

To keep bread longer, slice after cooling, then transfer slices to a ziplock bag and freeze. 


David M. Gascoigne, said...

Good bread, increasingly hard to find, is one of life's greatest treats. It is perhaps not surprising that different cultures have made bread in so many different ways, and I have tried many of them. I think that my favourite of all is a baguette from a traditional boulangerie in France, still warm from the oven. Who can resist tearing off a chunk immediately? I have also had incredible bread in Italy where with cheese, sun dried tomatoes and a bottle of wine lunch outdoors becomes a life-affirming event! A properly made kosher bagel is pretty damn good too! Injera in Ethiopia, however, had the flavour of finely ground cardboard. Along with white sliced bread in a plastic bag it ranks among the worst.

Rita said...

Looks delicious!
We're supposed to have another snowstorm coming through later today and through the night with a few more inches of snow. Spring is not for a couple months. ;)

Vee said...

Oh I do love a good bread for toasting. You make this sound so easy all the while assuring us that it is not. Guess I must give it a good leaving alone, especially since bread is so highly tempting for me. It sure made some beautiful "loaves." Hope that spring weather is on its way.

Bijoux said...

Bread is so yummy and I’m bummed that I have to restrict carbs these days. Your recipe looks good, but I’ve never ever had any success with yeast. It’s strange, but nothing ever rises and I use fresh yeast and follow the directions.

MadSnapper said...

i would love it, i am a bread addict.. just about any kind, eve the one david says is the worst, the white in the plastic bag. fresh baked is something I have never had except in resturants. just the thought of following this recipe makes me have an anxiety attack, but I would be first to tear off a chunk... I buy french bread, fresh baked at walmart and that is a lot of what I live on, I also buy Publix sourdough fresh baked each day.

Boud said...

I make all my bread, for many years now, various recipes. I like the Healthy Bread book, and my copy is very crumb stained on the main ingredient page! Home-baked bread is the best. Can't beat it with homemade soup. I think I could live on that alone!

Anvilcloud said...

So, do we need bread or need bread?
Whatever it takes, it is good to escape snowy roads.
Snow is leaving slowly here. When will we have that late big storm, I wonder.

Joyce F said...

Down to the last slice in that white bag. Cool day today. We had warmer wether in Jan. and Feb. I'm going to put the ingredients for plain white bread in the breadmaker and start a pot of soup.

Marcia said...

I only did a quick read of the recipe but will bookmark it for when the occasion arises that bread is required. Thanks.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Fresh buttered warm bread is hard to resist. Dinner by candle light and fresh baked bread is a favorite meal.

Billy Blue Eyes said...

Nothing like fresh bread, I cook a loaf most days though I do use a bread maker we don't get bread from the supermarket any more

DUTA said...

Freshly baked bread is irresistible! I'm definitely a bread addict, but I'm kind of lazy about baking, so I get my treat from a near-by bakery.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Baking that gorgeous bread is a perfect snow-day occupation. And I'm sure it tastes as good as it looks. I always used to bake chocolate chip cookies on the very rare snow days we had when we lived in Oregon -- with the home-from-school kids help (that was a very long time ago obviously!). Bill did quite a bit of bread making during our Covid year -- he's been pretty busy with other "hobbies" lately (hurricane recovery and all that) so bread-baking has been sidelined.

Emma Springfield said...

I have a breadbox that stores bread the best for me. There is nothing better than warm fresh homemade bread.

My name is Erika. said...

There is nothing better than fresh warm bread, is there? I haven't tried this type of bread but I have made a no knead sourdough. That takes a long time to rise, so it's not a quick eat. Sadly. This sounds delicious, especially with chicken noodle soup. And it is probably good you didn't leave that morning to go to Vermont, even if it was raining there because western NH got clobbered. My daughter (who lives right outside of Keene) had close to a foot in the morning. Have fun when you head off to Vermont. hugs-Erika

photowannabe said...

Oh I am drooling. There is nothing like fresh homemade bread.
I think that even I could tackle this recipe!!
It's dangerous for me to have it in the house though. No self control and the carbs would be a problem.
I can almost smell that bread from here..

Sandra said...

Those loaves look fantastic! I will copy this recipe and it will be the next great I make. I made soda bread today, something I haven't done for quite awhile. Chicken soup and that bread, I think life is very good!

Michelle said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe. I will be using it. We barely receive any snow these days. The weather is so strange.

Pamela M. Steiner said...

That bread sounds and looks wonderful! Now I want some, but it's too late in the evening to start it (7:30 pm). Maybe another day this week. Glad you survived the big nor'easter! Also, happy to hear you made it up and back safely to N. Conway, our old stomping grounds. But yes, those roads can be treacherous in bad weather. Wow. We have been having unseasonably cold weather this week, but no snow of course here in Florida. doesn't feel like spring for us yet! We already had spring last month, and now it's back to winter for a few days! LOL. Take care and stay safe and warm.

Kathy said...

Thanks for this recipe. I love to make bread and I'm going to try it. By the way, I always store my homemade bread in a ziplock bag on the table. I've been doing this for years and it always works.

L. D. said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe. They look like two wonderful loaves of bread.

William Kendall said...

The bread looks good!

Jeanie said...

Rick makes a wonderful peasant bread and I'll have to share this with him to see if it's the same. I might have to check out that bread book as a possible birthday gift for him. He's a stickler for "do not eat the bread till fully cooled" (Apparently two hours is what they told him in his class at Zingermann's and Paul Hollywood says the same. I, on the other hand, don't care if it's at its peak -- I love it warm!

gigi-hawaii said...

Yes, I love warm bread, too. But, making it is too much work for me.

David said...

Beatrice, That peasant bread looks great! Warm bread and a nice bowl of soup is a tough combination to beat on a cold winter day... We've had about 2.5 inches of snow all winter, (we don't get much anyway) but it has gotten down below freezing over the previous 3 mornings. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Ann said...

Fresh baked bread, yummy.
We were supposed to get hit with a a couple storms recently in Northwestern Pa but neither one turned out to be much of anything. Just a couple inches each.

Veronica Lee said...

Yummm! Nothing beats fresh homemade bread!

Hugs and blessings, Dorothy.

Linda G. said...

I miss Mom’s homemade bread and buns.

baili said...

before reaching to the pics of ready bread your description of the bread made my mouth water :)

what a delicious sounding recipe so nicely shared by you my friend !

dough is biggest task always for perfect rising bread i think ,but you said it all .Mr Stafford sounds great cook as i found her idea of lukewarm water so good :)

our oven use has been delayed due to electric board over heated and melted .hubby asked to not bake until board is changed because it happened twice so it does not seem safe to repeat the move .

her advice regarding leftover is also easy and nice ,actually i used to store bread in fridge which spoiled it often so thanks for the beautiful sharing dear Dorothy
winters are for baking i agree as when winter approaches my heart longs for baking :)
hope snow is taking break for spring :)
hugs and blessings