Once You've Made Genius Peasant Bread, Try These 5 Variations

April  5, 2017

For all the reasons Alexandra Stafford's Peasant Bread is genius—the super-simple ingredient list; the no-knead, no-shape, no-flub technique; the extremely pleasing size, easily demolished by four people in one meal (or two, if you're hungry)—it's also brilliant for all the variations it births.

The whole first section of her new book Bread Toast Crumbs is devoted to 39 of the master bread's offspring, from Potato Bread to Cinnamon-Sugar Monkey Bread to Focaccia with Grapes, Pancetta, and Rosemary. (You can also go recipe-less and customize your own boule—with almond oil, dried figs, and pumpkin seeds? or Gruyère and fresh thyme?—according to Alexandra's guidelines.)

We forced ourselves to choose five favorites (only because we couldn't show them all). Check them out below, then scroll for how to make them:

Photo by James Ransom

Try the classic...

...then go wild!


Soak 1/2 cup medium-grind cornmeal (93 grams) with 1 cup of boiling water, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 1/4 cup of molasses for 1 hour. Then add 1 additional cup lukewarm water. When mixing the dry ingredients, omit the sugar and use 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole-wheat flour instead of the typical 4 cups of all-purpose. Fold in the soaked cornmeal and proceed as usual.


Add 1/2 cup red quinoa (100 grams) and 1/4 cup flaxseeds (46 grams) to the dry ingredients before you mix in the liquid.

Kalamata Olive

Add 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary, 3/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives (115 grams), and 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion (65 grams).

Cheesy Cheddar & Parmigiano

Add 1/8 teaspoon cayenne to the dry ingredients, then stir in 1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar (170 grams) and 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan (57 grams). Finish with a dash of Tabasco when you mix in the lukewarm water.

Cinnamon Swirl

This version uses the same base dough, but it's a tiny bit more involved (though still no-knead and one-bowl), which is why Alexandra has shared the full recipe below. You enrich the classic dough with milk and butter. Once it's risen you divide it as usual, let the dough balls rest for 20 minutes, then pat it out into large rectangles. Each gets showered with cinnamon-sugar and rolled up.

What's your favorite fuss-free bread? Tell us in the comments below.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Luda Coupe
    Luda Coupe
  • Dewey Sis
    Dewey Sis
  • Pauls22401
  • Grace Chung
    Grace Chung
  • Colleen Coutu
    Colleen Coutu
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Luda C. August 22, 2019
Can I a) preheat a cast iron pot ready to bake?
b) can I place the lid on for the first 10 minutes?
C) can I make the first rising stand longer if necessary, say over night?
I am about to make this for the first time. It looks amazing. Thank you
Dewey S. April 12, 2019
I'm not sure if this question has been raised regarding the amount of yeast. On this site the master bread recipe calls for 2-1/4 teaspoons, however, on Alexandra's site it calls for 2 teaspoons. Other ingredients are the same. I'm still learning to make bread. Can you provide the correct amount of yeast?
Colleen C. April 21, 2019
I use 2 1/4 tsp yeast & it works well
Pauls22401 April 7, 2018
I have made the classic version at least a dozen times. My friends love when I do because someone gets the 'spare' loaf. I just made my own version of it with cinnamon and sugar. I'm not into very sweet bread so I only added a small amount with a tablespoon of cinnamon. I stirred in raisins after the first rise. Also, I do like a sweet crunch on the crust so when I reduced the heat for the second part of the bake, I brushed the top with melted butter and sprinkled with more cinnamon and sugar. Great recipe, Alexandra! Thank you!
Alexandra S. April 8, 2018
So happy to hear all of this! The butter-cinnamon-sugar crust sounds amazing. I love sharing the spare loaf, too ... people always act as though it's gold :) Thanks for writing.
Grace C. June 19, 2017
Has a variation been created with nuts and dried fruit? :)
judy August 12, 2019
You could do that yourself. simply mix up about 3/4C of what ever combination tickles your fancy, and combine in after the first rise. If you want them a little sweet, toss the nuts and fruit in a little sugar before combining into th dough.
Colleen C. May 19, 2017
Wow, I really want to try the Anadama variation!
Does the recipe intend for us to add an additional 2 cups of liquid as the original recipe requires? Thank you so much!
Alexandra S. May 21, 2017
Hey Colleen,

There are 2 cups water total. You use 1 cup of water when you soak the cornmeal, butter, and molasses (quantities listed above). Then you stir in another cup of water after the 30 minutes of soaking. Then you add the flours, salt, and yeast. Let me know if you have any other questions!
Amarja P. May 4, 2017
Hi there Can I use white quinoa instead of red? Thanks!
Sarah J. May 4, 2017
Yes, you totally can! You just won't get the same pop of color.
Kelly J. May 1, 2017
Do you grind the flaxseed for Quinoa-Flaxseed Bread?
Alexandra S. May 1, 2017
I don't!
vrinda April 29, 2017
vrinda April 29, 2017
yes I wanted to use all spelt flour not berries
Alexandra S. April 29, 2017
Ok, great, yes, definitely use spelt flour, but I suggest starting with half spelt and half ap flour—the bread is pretty dense when 100% whole wheat flour is used. If you like the texture with half and half, try increasing the amount.
Julie April 28, 2017
For the Anadama bread version, do you still add an additional 2 cups of lukewarm water after folding in the soaked cornmeal to the dry ingredients?
Sarah J. April 28, 2017
Nope—you want to keep the amount of liquid to 2 cups total. Hope that helps!
Julie April 29, 2017
Yes, thank you!!
Sherrie E. April 28, 2017
Has anyone tried using gluten free flour?
Odille E. April 28, 2017
I tried GF flours for a similar recipe, but it didnt rise very well. Going to try this one but I will be adding xantham gum and bicarb soda to aide rising. Will report back. I use 2 parts GF, 1 part buckwheat and 1 part red sorghum flours, the texture and colour was brilliant. I also added a shake of poppy seeds. Taste and texture was great, it was just flat like a ciabatta loaf.
Alexandra S. April 29, 2017
Hi Sherrie and Odille! Phoebe Lapine from Feed Me Phoebe made the gf recipe from the book: I didn't experiment with every gf flour mix because there are so many, but I had the best success with C4C (Thomas Keller's brand, which is pricey). My suggestion if you follow this recipe is to add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients slowly — every gf flour mix absorbs water differently, so you may not need all of the liquid (though the texture of the dough still is super wet/sticky). Hope that helps!
vrinda April 28, 2017
Great story !
can I use spelt instead of any other grain ?
Alexandra S. April 29, 2017
Vrinda—HI! Do you mean spelt flour? Or are you talking about adding spelt berries to the flour in place of quinoa? If it's the latter, I think you need to just be sure to cook the spelt berries. My aunt adds cooked wheat berries to a lot of her breads, and they add such a nice texture.
Sharon S. April 28, 2017
Is the quinoa cooked?
Sarah J. April 28, 2017
Beckie F. April 28, 2017
What is the weight for the Parmesan in the cheese version? The classic version is terrific, btw.
Sarah J. April 28, 2017
57 grams! I'm going to correct the article, too—thank you!
Alexandra S. April 5, 2017
Love the photo! And the post. Thank you :)
Cosa April 5, 2017
Shouldn't The Classic be Flour, Yeast, Water, Salt, Sugar?
Sarah J. April 5, 2017
Technically yes!