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

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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.)

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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...

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Alexandra Stafford's No-Knead Peasant Bread

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Makes two 14-ounce loaves
  • 4 cups (512 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water, made by mixing 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
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...then go wild!

Anadama

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.

Quinoa-Flaxseed

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.

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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.

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Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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Makes 2 loaves

For the dough:

  • 6 cups (768 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk or milk
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Softened unsalted butter, for greasing

For assembly:

  • 1/4 cup (32 grams) flour, for clean surface
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

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