6-Ingredient Peasant Bread
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While everyone else raves about their homemade sourdough, we’ll be basking in the glow of Alexandra Stafford’s peasant bread, from her cookbook Bread Toast Crumbs. It’s just as satisfying to make at home but doesn’t require tending to a starter or any complicated techniques. In fact, it comes together with just five ingredients (plus butter for greasing) and you don’t even have to knead it.
Stafford calls for unbleached all-purpose flour, which means it hasn’t been treated with bleaching agents and has a slightly denser texture. It will provide better structure to the loaves, but you can use bleached flour if that’s what you have. And since instant yeast doesn’t need to be rehydrated before you use it (unlike active dry yeast), you can dump it right in with the flour.
Alexandra (you can call her Ali) Stafford is best known for her popular food blog, Alexandra's Kitchen. You may also be familiar with her cookbook Bread Toast Crumbs, cooking tutorials at Alexandra's Kitchen, or her Instagram feed @AlexandraCooks featuring mostly simple, always seasonal, delicious dishes. She recently launched an online cooking class subscription series on Airsubs!
Reprinted from Bread Toast Crumbs. Copyright © 2017 by Alexandra Stafford. Photograph by Eva Kolenko. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
4 cups (512g) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the dough forms a sticky dough ball.
2. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise until the dough has doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
3. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425°F. Grease two 1-quart oven-safe bowls with the softened butter—be generous. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball.
4. Using the two forks and working from the center out, separate the dough into two equal pieces. Use the forks to lift each half of the dough into the prepared bowls. If the dough is too wet to transfer with forks, lightly grease your hands with butter or oil, then transfer each half to a bowl. Let the dough rise, uncovered, on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) until the top of the dough just crowns the rims of the bowls, 10 to 20 minutes.
5. Transfer the bowls to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F and bake until evenly golden all around, 17 to 20 minutes more. Remove the bowls from the oven and turn the loaves out onto cooling racks. If the loaves look pale, return them to their bowls and bake for 5 minutes longer. Cool the loaves for 15 minutes before cutting.