LOOKING for: T&T Peasant Bread

gardenladJanuary 1, 2007

I'm just getting back into baking and am looking for a tried and true peasant bread recipe.

Yeah, I googled, and the web is full of them. But I'd druther go with one of you guys than with strangers.

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What do you think of as "peasant bread"?..whole grain? Oatmeal with lots of molasses, an open textured white with unbleached flour? Heavy grained rye? Cracked wheat bread?
Are you familiar with that 18 hour bread discussed on the cooking forum about a month back> That might qualify.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 4:52PM
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Gardenlad, I'm not sure what you mean by peasant bread either. I'm assuming that you mean one of the .

I've been making bread recently with just a sour dough starter using Julia Child's basic French bread recipe. To get a more peasant or artisan loaf I make it over a two day period giving the dough a slow cold rise to develop the flavour.

I have a batch of this dough rising now made with 4 cups of flour, plus a sour dough levain made with 1 1/2 cups of flour.

I made the sour dough starter following the instructions in Amy's Bread Cookbook.

You might also try the no knead bread recipe that was posted on the Cooking forum recently. Quite a few of us made it. I'd definitely call it a peasant bread. You will find a lot of pictures on this Cooking Forum thread.

Home Cookin Chapter: Recipes From Thibeault's Table

Sourdough starter - Amy's bread

copied from: http://countrylife.net/pages/recipes/672.html

Amy Scherber's Sourdough Starter

From AMY'S BREAD, copyrighted.

Amy's bread

This starter is begun with rye flour because rye just LOVES to ferment and is an easier starter to get going than a wheat starter. When I first made it, it had a bubble or two within a couple hours.

The procedure is to start it with rye flour, then transform it by changing what you feed it. The original rye will dilute to nothing over time and you'll end up with a white flour (or whatever other grain you choose, it could be whole wheat or pumpermickel, or you could leave it as a rye starter) and water based starter, but it had the advantage of beginning it's life from highly fermentable rye flour.

Start it with organic rye flour and spring water. Once you have it going well you can switch to all-purpose white (or other) flour as you choose. The use of spring water is recommended for maintenance, however, as tap water may contain elements (such as chlorine) which may be detrimental to the health of your starter. I also recommend that you use a container that you can mark the volume levels of starter each time, so that you will know when it has doubled. Use a marking pen or tape or any other means to indicate on the container the starter levels each time you feed.

Phase 1 - Combine 2 oz organic rye flour (room temp) with 4 oz spring water in a clear container. The batter should be about the consistency of very thick pancake batter, add more water or flour if necessary. Cover & let it sit for 36 - 48 hours at 75 - 77 degrees (a little cooler is okay but over 80 you will incubate the wrong kind of bacteria and your culture will have an unpleasant bitter taste). You should start to see tiny bubbles forming after about 24 hours. By the time it has doubled, there will be a noticeable network of small bubbles throughout the batter & it will be foaming & bubbling on top. (If the batter has not doubled within 48 hours, feed with 2 oz water & 2 oz flour (add more of either if necessary for the consistency) and let it sit another 24 hours or until you see some definite activity.)

Phase 2 - Stir the culture down, notice how soupy it's become. The batter should have a noticeable sour smell & a mildly tangy taste at this point. Add 2 oz water & 2 oz flour and stir vigorously until well-combined. Let it sit for 12 hours. It should be showing a fair amount of activity at this point. You should see lots of foaming & bubbling through the sides as well as on the top. Don't be concerned if the culture deflates & loses volume. This means the yeast has exhausted its food supply, but it will continue to increase in acidity. Don't worry if your culture isn't dramatically active yet. As long as there is some noticeable activity going on and the mixture smells & tastes sour, you're on the right track.

Phase 3 - The culture should now have a pronounced, sour, fruity taste and smell, it should not taste musty or bitter (if it does, discard and start again, paying close attention to the temp of the culture at all times). Now you can start "transforming" it into a white (or other) flour based starter. Use 6 oz of the starter, add 3 oz water & 3 oz flour, stir vigorously. Let it sit for 12 hrs at 75 - 77 degrees F.

Refresh it again, setting up a maintenance level of 12 oz of starter. This will be your "mother" starter that you use to build the sourdough starters/sponges needed in individual recipes.

Each time you take part of the mother out to build a starter, you must refresh it with equal weights of flour and water to bring it back up to its maintenance level.

To maintain - Use 6 oz of the mother culture (discard the rest), add 3 oz water & 3 oz flour, stir vigorously, let it sit at room temp until doubled in volume.

A strong mother will double in 8-12 hours. If yours doesn't do that, let it continue to sit out until it has a nice tangy taste and smell; discard all but 6 oz and repeat this procedure. Repeat this procedure as many times as necessary until the mother doubles within 8-12 hrs. It may take several days. Don't get discouraged, it's worth the effort.

To use for recipes - Combine 1/2 c (5 oz) Mother from the refrigerator, add 3 oz flour and 2.5 oz warm water (85 - 90 degrees). The mixture will be stiffer than the mother. Let it sit, covered, until doubled in volume (if it doesn't do so go back to maintenance procedure). When the starter has doubled, it is ready to use in a recipe. Measure the amount needed and discard any that remains.

Home Cookin Chapter: Recipes From Thibeault's Table

Julia Child

1 package dry active yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour (bread flour) (I use 4 cups)
2 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups cold water plus 1/3 or so additional water

Place the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of the food process. Pulse to mix. Add 1 1/3 cups of water and process until the dough comes together. If the dough doesn't form a ball, add a little of the extra water. Process for about 60 seconds, turn off machine and let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Turn on the machine again and rotate the dough about 30 times under the cover, and then remove it to a lightly floured work surface. it should be fairly smooth and quite firm.

Let the dough rest for 2 minutes and then knead roughly and vigourously. The final dough should not stick to your hands as you knead (although it will stick if you pinch and hold a piece); it should be smooth and elastic and, when you hold it up between your hands and stretch it down, it should hold together smoothly.

Preliminary rise - 40 to 60 minutes at around 75F. Place the dough into a clean dry bowl, (do not grease the bowl), cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place free from drafts. (note the French do not grease the bowl because they believe the dough needs a seat to push up from). This first rise is sufficient when the dough has definitely started to rise and is about 1 1/2 times its original volume.


Turn the dough onto your lightly floured work surface roughly and firmly pat and push it out into a 14 inch rectangle. Fold one of the long sides over toward the middle, and the other long side over to cover it, making a 3 layer cushion. Repeat the operation. This important step redistributes the yeast throughout the dough, for a strong second rise. Return the dough smooth side up the bowl; cover with plastic wrap and again set to rise.

Final rise in the bowl - about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or longer. The bread should be 2 1/2 to 3 times its original bulk. It is the amount of rise that is important here, not the timing.

To Shape,

Cut the dough in half. Set one piece aside and cover with a towel.

On a lightly floured work surface pat the dough into a 14 inch rectangle, squaring it up as evenly as you can.

Fold the rectangle of dough in half lengthwise and using the heel of your hand, firmly press the edges together whether they meet. Seat well. Pound the dough flat. Now repeat - patting the dough out again and folding it over and sealing the edges. Pinch the edges well and Rotate the dough so that the sealed edge in on the bottom.

Repeat with second piece of dough.

Cover with plastic wrap or loosely with a towel and let rise to more than double again at about 75°f.

Place stone in oven and Preheat oven to 450°F. Slash three long cuts into the loaves and place on the hot stone. Immediately toss a number of ice cubes on to the bottom on the oven to create steam. Bake until bread is golden and has an interior temp of 200°F. Takes about 30 minutes.

Making Dough in a Mixer or by Hand

When you are making dough in an electric mixer with a dough hook, proceed in the same general way with the rests indicated, and finish by hand. or mix the dough by hand in a bowl, turn out on a work surface, and start the kneading by lifing it up with a sraper and slapping it down roughly for several minutes until it has body. Let it rest several minutes and then proceed to knead.

Recipe: No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 6:05PM
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Did you find what you were looking for yet Gardenlad?

You might want to try this recipe for Pain a'l'Ancienne posted on the Cooking forum. It will take you two days to make it, but it is well worth the effort.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 5:57PM
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Actually I did, Ann, from a different site where, apparently, nobody was confused by the term peasant bread.

I've kept four of the recipes in my to-try file. I'm particularly intrigued with two of them; one, identified as Rosemary Peasant Bread, obviously includes rosmary, and the other, called Portuguese Peasant Bread, which includes barley baby cereal as one of the ingredients.

Now the question is, which to try first?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 7:31PM
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Great! You found a site that combined Italian, Portuguese, French, Norwegan, and Russian Peasant bread all into one.
Would you mind sharing the site?
Hope you will post recipes and reviews as you work your way through the site.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 7:46PM
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Gardenlad, I guess the term "peasant" bread means different things to different people. I'm glad that you were able to find a recipe that fits what you were looking for.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 8:06PM
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Barley baby cereal? Who would have thought!

Leave it to the Portuguese to be that creative to use barley baby cereal as a bread ingredient!


    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 7:42AM
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I'm wondering about the peasants in the countryside of Portugal are doing with barley baby cereal. I thought by peasant bread you were looking for a bread that a peasant woman might bake to serve to her family, or one that might be found at a market in Europe. Obviously I was mistaken.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 10:56AM
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Where did the recipe for the Pain a'l'Ancienne go?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 11:24AM
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Linda - I found the Portuguese Peasant Bread & lots of other great recipes at this website:



    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 2:03PM
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