Alexandra Stafford's No-Knead Peasant Bread

By Genius Recipes
April 4, 2017
266 Comments


Author Notes: This is it: the bread recipe so simple and good, it will get you baking bread every week—even if you’ve never made a loaf in your life. It’s the comforting, no-knead peasant bread that’s ready in as little as 2 hours, unlike other no-knead breads that are ready ... tomorrow. Recipe adapted slightly from Genius Recipes

Makes: two 14-ounce loaves
Prep time: 2 hrs 45 min
Cook time: 35 min

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  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 ingredients form a sticky dough ball. (If you need to use active dry yeast instead, proof it in the lukewarm water first for about 10 minutes, until foamy, before adding to the other ingredients.)
  2. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk. Note: Here's a trick for making the perfect warm spot for the dough to rise. Set the oven to 400° F and let it preheat for 1 minute, then shut it off. The temperature will be between 80° F and 100° F. you should be able to place your hands (carefully) on the oven grates without burning them.
  3. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425° F. Grease two 1-quart oven-safe bowls, like Pyrex (see note below), with 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 your 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 a prepared bowl. If the dough is too wet to transfer with forks, lightly grease your hands with butter or oil, then transfer half to a bowl. (If your dough drops and breaks apart on the transfer, don't worry, just divvy the dough between the bowls and it will come back together as it rises.) Do not cover the bowls. Let the dough rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for 10 to 20 minutes, until the top of the dough just crowns the rims of the bowls.
  5. Transfer the bowls to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° F and bake for 17 to 20 minutes more, until evenly golden all around. 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. Let the loaves cool for 15 minutes before cutting.
  6. Note: If you don't have 2 one-quart bowls, you may use other vessels, though differences in pan sizes will affect the shape of the final loaves. This recipe can be adapted for 2 loaf pans (preferably 8.5 x 4.5-inch pans) by multiplying the quantities of ingredients by 1.5 (i.e. 6 cups/768g flour, 3 cups water, etc.).

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Reviews (266) Questions (5)

266 Comments

Rosalind P. September 24, 2018
i try to refrigerate all my "artisan" breads before proofing and even afterwards (that is, twice). It takes longer but then again breaks the process down into managable time.<br />
 
Elizabeth B. September 23, 2018
Has anyone ever put this dough in the refrigerator overnight after or before the first proofing?
 
Carla September 23, 2018
Yes...and it was still perfect...actually tastier due to the longer fermentation. I mixed, refrigerated, divided, let proof and baked. I don’t think you can do anything to mess up this bread. Easy process, delicious result every time.
 
Elizabeth B. September 24, 2018
I wound up proofing on the counter for 2 hours and then transferring to baking dish and refrigerating over night. I then popped it into the oven in the morning and it came out great. I used 2 cups white flour and 2 cups of whole wheat. It seems to make a denser bread but delicious.
 
Jill P. August 15, 2018
Is instant yeast the SAF yeast or red star quick rise instant yeast? Can it proof longer than the time suggested or will it be ruined?
 
Arrxx June 28, 2018
Could you half this recipe?<br />
 
freshbread June 28, 2018
Yes! Though, as Alexandra notes in her book, when halving the recipe you should use slightly less than half the yeast — 1 teaspoon, rather than 1 1/8, which would be exactly half.
 
Arrxx June 28, 2018
Thanks for the response!<br />
 
Carla June 28, 2018
Grams makes it so easy to divide...and one little bowl bakes so nice in a counter top oven. It’s just two of us and I always make just one loaf...it’s perfect!
 
IM June 22, 2018
Can you mix and cook in the same glass bowl?
 
Picholine June 22, 2018
Doesn’t sound like a good idea...the second rising is in a buttered vessel like a loaf pan or the pyrexbowls <br />I make this bread at least one x week .
 
Carla June 22, 2018
Nope, it will stick like toxic waste! You have to bake it in a buttered pan, bowl etc. don’t skip on the butter either! I have used lard...and that works too. I know...lard...<br />But you can’t make Cuban bread without it!
 
Susanna May 22, 2018
The last time made this, I did a whole-wheat loaf and topped it with everything-bagel seasoning...it was great!
 
Austincook May 22, 2018
Wow! Susanna, I'd love to see your changes to the recipe! My family and I really like this bread, especially because it's so easy to make with kids. But for health reasons I'm trying hard to limit my family to 100% whole wheat. Even if you got a great bread with some white flour in it, I'd love to see the recipe! Thanks
 
Jean May 22, 2018
Would really appreciate knowing how much sodium is in this recipe... asking because I saw a recipe of peasant bread with over 2,000 mg of sodium... per serving... Thank you so much.<br />
 
Susanna May 22, 2018
Well let’s see...kosher salt has 1800 mg of sodium per teaspoon and there are two tsp in this recipe, which means that two loaves contain approximately 3600 mg total. Of course you can use less salt if you want, but it will affect the taste—the loaves may taste bland or flat.
 
Picholine May 21, 2018
Is there any problem with covering the the loaf while rising?<br />I cover it for a portion of rising near stove and it seems to rise faster . Then uncover before it crowns the top of the pan. I have the cookbook and I would recommend as I have made many of the recipes and they are all terrific!
 
yvette May 1, 2018
We LOVED this bread! I've made it twice in the last week. I put a handful sunflower seeds and pepitas on top - it was awesome. It's an amazing "base" bread for so many things. I'm going to try mixing cheese in there next time... YUM. THANK YOU!!!
 
claireinaustin April 8, 2018
I am confused about this because the video shows a different process than what is described in the recipe. In the video the dough is not divided into 2 parts, and is instead placed all into one pot with a lid, rather than a bowl. Please advise. Thank you .
 
Poppygold April 8, 2018
It can be made in 2 loaves or in a staub cast iron dutch oven...found here:<br />https://food52.com/shop/products/1784-staub-round-cocotte<br />Or any appropriate sized loaf pan that is ovenproof.
 
claireinaustin April 8, 2018
one pot with the lid on? or off? video shows on, but directions specifically say bake without a lid.
 
Poppygold April 8, 2018
Off and do not skimp on the butter when greasing the pan!
 
Dawn S. July 13, 2018
I'd reeeaaally want to make this and I have a Dutch oven but not pyrex bowls and I'm still SOOO scared of yeast so I have more questions! If using the dutch oven, should I not separate and instead put the entirety into the one dutch oven? If so, should I lengthen the cooking time?? If so, what am I looking for to know it's finished?? A brown crust? Should I poke it with a skewer? Thank you thank you for any/all answers!
 
Debbie August 23, 2018
Try this YouTube channel out! All your worries about yeast will fade away. He has a lot of variations of techniques and uses different kinds of containers. My favorite is the Poor Man’s Dutch Oven. https://www.youtube.com/user/artisanbreadwithstev
 
Anne G. April 7, 2018
I have made this bread several times using different types of flour and has turned out perfect every time. I don't believe this recipe can fail.
 
mdmize March 29, 2018
I'd like to make hamburger buns, this recipe work? straight forward, just as is?
 
freshbread March 29, 2018
Actually, Alexandra has a recipe for a hamburger bun version in her book! (Bread Toast Crumbs) Since it's not included online, I won't post it here—but be sure to pick it up at your local bookstore or library: the book offers all sorts of tips, in addition to lots and lots of recipes, that are super useful.
 
Picholine March 30, 2018
The book Bread Toast Crumbs is worth every penny you pay for it !<br />
 
Urszula March 27, 2018
I discovered Alexandra's peasant bread recipe a year ago. Since then, I make two loaves of this delicious and simple bread EVERY week. Sometimes twice.
 
Susanna March 18, 2018
I posted about this bread around the holidays because my dough wouldn't rise and I was despairing. I finally did get some SAF yeast (had to order online) and since then I have made it several times, with variations, and it comes out great. However, today I made a loaf and halved the recipe (as a single person I don’t always need/want two loaves), and although the dough did rise some, it wasn’t as much as I wanted or expected. If one halves this recipe, should the quantity of yeast stay the same as in the original recipe? Just wondering if that’s might have been the problem. Thanks for any insights...(FYI I used 1 1/4 tsp yeast).
 
jy2nd March 18, 2018
I always halve the recipe as it’s just me eating it. I use a generous 1/2 of the yeast specified and it has always gone well. Was your kitchen maybe cooler than usual?
 
freshbread March 18, 2018
Hi Susanna - So good to hear that you've had success since the holidays!<br /><br />As it happens, I always halve the recipe. And, like you, initially I figured that 1-1/8 tsp would be the way to go. But in Alexandra's book, she addresses this question -- and says that a half recipe (that is, one loaf) requires just 1 tsp. That's what I've done every time since perhaps my first loaf, and I haven't had a fail yet. (I should add, though, that Alexandra offers various ways of tweaking the recipe, including using less yeast for longer rises -- if, say, you're seeking a sour flavor -- and she says this works. So, even if you were to use too little yeast, it should just need extra time.)<br /><br />I wonder if some of your rise challenges come from altitude, or yeast that has spent time exposed to air?
 
Poppygold March 18, 2018
It does halves well but I always make the full recipe as it freezes well too -- that is, if it lasts that long with friends and family eating it all the time!
 
Picholine February 26, 2018
There is a recipe for Oatmeal-Maple Bread in the book. Not sure it is ok to post it though .
 
Cindy B. February 23, 2018
Have made this bread many times, and it always comes out perfect! Was wanting to try adding oatmeal, but not sure how much or what other changes in the recipe I would have to make in order to add the oatmeal. Anyone ever try adding oatmeal to this recipe?
 
Picholine February 23, 2018
I have the book and I will,check and come back if recipe,with oatmeal is in there
 
JaneMiami February 28, 2018
I have added Chia seeds, oatmeal, sunflower seeds.. any crunchy items really. Just weigh flour plus seeds/oatmeal so that it equals 18 ounces.
 
JaneMiami February 28, 2018
Flours= 16 oz(6oz whole wheat 10oz white) + 2 oz crunchy items.
 
CA February 22, 2018
I just made this bread using my Staub cocotte. It turned out perfectly delicious. Any tips on how to store the remains so the crust stays crisp? Thanks for a great recipe and all the helpful comments!
 
Poppygold February 22, 2018
Well, paper wrap works well...but usually this bread not around for long ;)
 
CA February 22, 2018
Thanks for the tip, Poppygold. My husband and I finished off half the loaf at dinner! Yikes!
 
Victoria H. February 19, 2018
I've made this bread a few times and it always pleases. My favourite part is the forks! With a bit of practice I've found the using two forks is the easiest way to handle the high hydration doughs I mostly use for my breads. Feels weird at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's a game changer. Take a look at a video of the forks in action: https://youtu.be/OvRAT-9zs1Q?t=31
 
jy2nd February 17, 2018
Decided to make a bread towith my batch of chili. Added a scant 1/4 C cornmeal, replaced all of the cold water with beer (a plain lager), added about 3oz shredded cheddar, I had to add a little water to get. the right consistency. It came out well. This is a very versatile recipe.
 
Picholine January 15, 2018
Where can I find the video that shows this bread baked in a Staub pan?<br />Thanks
 
Poppygold January 15, 2018
https://food52.com/shop/products/1784-staub-round-cocotte?utm_term=11335078&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20171127_bfcm_mondaypm_buyer