5 No-Frills Bread Recipes to Help You Unwind

February  1, 2018

Bread is the closest thing to culinary meditation.

Patting focaccia dough

Bread baking is not technically a religion, no—but when you're in the kitchen, knuckle-deep in a pile of dough, and aren't able to reach for your phone when you get a text, there's a certain serenity that you can allow yourself, even if for just 30 minutes. And that's a good feeling, the unplugging bit (or maybe you also have a thing for sticky, buttery fingers. No shame.).

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Once you've put your bread in the oven, grab a book, make yourself some tea, or practice a couple of headstands—but don't go too far down the zen rabbit hole (you'll still need to take the loaf out and eat it, too). Here are the five breads to make when you're looking to reach baking bliss: 

1. Spread it out with Saltie's Focaccia by Marian Bull 


Never underestimate the importance of just flexing your digits. Focaccia dough needs to be patted and spread out with great care to ensure optimal fluffiness—to create this bread's signature dimpling, slow and steady is the key. 

2. Ball up (and stretch out) Grilled Flatbreads by erinmcdowell

Grilled Flatbreads

If you're familiar with The Karate Kid, you get the sentiment "wax on, wax off." These grilled flatbreads benefit from the same calm approach, right up to the moment you toss them on the grill (or grill pan). They're just crisp on the outside and a little squidgy on the inside, especially if you stuff them with some cheese (à la Micki).

More: Make bread look like it belongs in a French bakery with these tips.


3. Weave together Jessica Fechtor's Five-Fold Challah by Genius Recipes


If you enjoy the meditative qualities of braiding things (like friendship bracelets or hair), then this is the bread for you. The technique for Jessica's challah is elongated but simple, and will keep you in a relaxed state of mind.

4. Roll out some Homemade Croissants by Yossi Arefi


Rolling out dough does wonders for the soul. For these croissants, you fold layers of pastry and butter on top of one another and roll, chill, repeat.

More: The 10 tools to stock up on for better bread.


5. Do little to nothing with Ciabatta by erinmcdowell


Sometimes less is best. This is the case when making ciabatta: The less you fuss over it, the airier it is. You'll find that both you and your loaves will instantly lighten up!

Photos of focaccia dough and finished focaccia by Eric Moran; photo of croissants by Yossy Arefi; photo of challah by Bobbi Lin; photo of flatbreads and ciabatta by Sarah Stone.

We originally ran this post in September 2015, but think the upcoming weekend might be the perfect time to busy ourselves with a bread project.

What's the dish you cook to mellow out with? Tell us in the comments below! 

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Gabi Benedit

Written by: Gabi Benedit

domestic dilettante.


Cooking S. October 25, 2016
Hmm....what mellows me? Either making pizza dough or risotto but both with a glass of wine!
Esther B. September 20, 2015
How I love kneading bread... Sportive action on a side, zen attitude on another, what a pleasure... full of hopes !(or happy certitudes when you know what the finale will be...)
Melanie R. September 18, 2015
it IS a therapeutic action! And so gratifying to share with friends thereafter! Great post. Enjoyed a lot. Thank you!
Evelyn September 17, 2015
Great article! Your piece has gotten me in the mood to bake, SERENITY NOW!
Micki B. September 16, 2015
Yes for always adding cheese to things, especially bread!