5 Ingredients or Fewer

Alexandra Stafford's No-Knead Peasant Bread

April  4, 2017
27 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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

Watch This Recipe
Alexandra Stafford's No-Knead Peasant Bread
  • Prep time 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Makes two 14-ounce loaves
Ingredients
  • 4 cups (512 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups (454 grams) lukewarm water, made by mixing 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
In This Recipe
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.).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Arrxx
    Arrxx
  • Kasia Suzuki
    Kasia Suzuki
  • VictoriaOC
    VictoriaOC
  • Erin Axelrod
    Erin Axelrod
  • neonkitty
    neonkitty
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

382 Reviews

Arrxx April 19, 2021
The recipe calls for a Pyrex bowl but the video clearly uses a Dutch oven. I guess that's okay? Also - for 1 loaf - half the recipe?
 
jawerkowitch April 19, 2021
I made this yesterday, my very first time making bread! It was SO easy and came out looking great, and delicious!
Do we know how long this will keep for?
 
Urszula April 19, 2021
It doesn’t hold for long. We usually finish the first loaf on the baking day and I always keep the other one in a fridge, otherwise it will start going bad about on a third day, depending on the temp and humidity.
 
Kasia S. April 14, 2021
I do not have an oven so I made it in a cast-iron Dutch Oven on the stove. It came out perfectly (only next time I will add a little bit more salt, perhaps). Also, I did not divide the bread into two but made it all at once, and had to flip it halfway through the baking. Nevertheless, it was super good and I will be making this bread most likely every week from now on. Thanks!
 
Vikki S. April 12, 2021
My dough came out too dry! I'm proceeding but I don't have the highest hopes. Sitting on my counter waiting for the 2nd rise. I'll wait as long as it take to double.
 
Patiotools August 16, 2020
Help! I cannot get a second rise! Any suggestions are welcome : )
First rise is good, but even if I shorten it, cannot get it to rise again. When i put in oven, it comes out flat or even sunken. Still tastes great but I'd like to get it to rise!
 
Ellen P. September 20, 2020
Same problem here - it worked when I first made it but note coming out flat and dense. It’s not rising after first rise at all
 
Pat J. January 31, 2021
Ellen, after experimenting I found a solution. I microwave water til boiling then leave it in the microwave to create steam, then place my dough in there for the second rise. It works!
 
Sarah K. February 24, 2021
I'm pretty sure microwaving water is dangerous. Something about uneven heating and superheated areas that can boil up dangerously. You may want to research!
 
Lori February 24, 2021
Never heard such a thing and I have been boiling water in microwaves for over 35 years. In fact, there are numerous food items that are brought to boiling in microwaves—rice comes to mind.
 
Sarah K. February 24, 2021
It is rare but not unheard of. And it happens only when you boil water alone (not with rice, for instance) and only if you use smooth-sided containers. "Microwaves are specifically designed to heat water molecules and to heat them very rapidly. This can end up heating the water faster than it can turn into vapor, causing it to become superheated. Bubbles of water vapor can then quickly form when the water is jostled as the cup is taken out of the microwave. This makes it boil up, seeming to “explode,” as all the vapor is suddenly released." That's from https://www.thekitchn.com/fact-or-fiction-exploding-wate-109388.
Also see this for more info, and many other articles from reputable sources online: https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/exploding-water-in-the-microwave/
 
Lori February 24, 2021
Given the number of times I have boiled just water in the microwave over the years, I’m not going to worry about it. Maybe it is more of an issue of putting it in for too long. Kind of like putting in something that only needs to be heated for 15 seconds and accidentally heating for 15 minutes—you will end up with a fire m
 
Rosalind P. April 12, 2021
Sometimes -- and it really is only sometimes -- if you heat water in the microwave to a boiling point but the water isn't bubbling, if you then put something in the cup when you take it out -- like a spoon -- it can bubble vigorously (violently) for just a second. It's happened to me. I'm just careful now.
 
Rosalind P. April 12, 2021
Yup. Didn't see this response so I wrote something like it, but not as well as you explained it. :-)
 
Pat J. April 12, 2021
Hi Pat - I think I found a solution. (I tried the heated water in the microwave, it helped get a second rise but it deflated in the oven.) I read in a bread cookbook by america's test kitchen that no-knead breads really need a little folding between the first and second rise - i tried it and it worked for me - once, so far : ) Good luck!
 
Lynda June 1, 2020
Hello! I love making this bread. Has any one made this bread in a traditional loaf pan? If so, what changes are needed to the basic recipe?
 
Rosalind P. June 1, 2020
Not an expert but I believe that with this (and all the other artisanal no-knead) recipe/technique it isn't the shape of the pan but the capture of moisture that matters. I'm guessing that any proper-sized pan or bowl that can be pre-heated and is covered tightly will work.
 
Picholine June 1, 2020
Yes, I make it at least once a week in a bread pan that is a USA metal pan I bought on Amazon last year . It is for larger loaves and is a bit longer than the usual size loaf pan. Makes a perfect loaf for this recipe. Bakes in my convection about same as instructed in recipe.
 
Lynda June 1, 2020
Thank you so much for the feedback!
 
Lynda June 1, 2020
Thank you very much for the response.
 
freshbread June 1, 2020
Hi Lynda! Yes, step 6 above actually offers instructions on this, guiding in how to make this recipe in two 8.5x4-inch loaf pans -- there, the recipe says to multiply all amounts by 1.5. If instead you wanted to make just one loaf, which is how I like to do it, then you'd multiply all quantities by 0.75.
 
VictoriaOC May 24, 2020
I want to make a single loaf in a dutch oven. Video doesn't give a size, and one person said they've done it in a 2 qt. while someone else said they used a 5.5 qt. Anyone know?
 
freshbread May 24, 2020
I've done this -- it'll work! Just use the full 4-cup measurement for your one large loaf. It ends up being roughly the size of those Dutch oven breads from folks like Jim Lahey, Emilie Raffa, Ken Forkish.

In fact, in Alexandra Stafford's book, "Bread Toast Crumbs," she offers instructions on how to do this. Among these helpful notes, I find her parchment paper tip particularly smart, and now use it whenever making a Dutch oven bread:

"To give the Peasant Bread the Lahey treatment, while the dough is making its first rise (in a warm spot, but not your oven), preheat a Dutch oven for 45 minutes at 450F. Dust a clean surface with 1/4 cup (32g) flour. Turn the dough out onto the clean surface and shape the dough into a ball using the pinkie-edge of your hands to pinch the dough underneath, creating tension. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper – the use of parchment paper here is key, as it allows for a seamless transition from the counter to the preheated Dutch oven. After 20 minutes of resting on the counter, remove the Dutch oven from the oven, lower the Peasant Bread, parchment paper and all, into the pan, cover, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more."
 
VictoriaOC May 24, 2020
Thank you freshbread for all the info! Actually, I had read about the parchment paper method elsewhere and was definately going to go that route. Glad you confirmed it works great!

If this recipe works out for me, I'll probably get the book. But, for now, I still need some guidance on the size of the Dutch oven for this particular recipe. I want to end up with a nicely shaped loaf, not too flat and not too big for the pot. I have Dutch ovens that I think might work, but I'm not sure which one to use: 2 qt round, 2.75 qt. round, or a 3.75 oval. Please advise ... thank you so much!
 
Rosalind P. May 24, 2020
It can "work" in many sizes of vessel. I have used a medium size pyrex bowl, with a cover. I've used a 6 quart dutch oven. In that one, the bread was flatter than in a smaller baking vessel. I thought the a 4 quart dutch oven or the pyrex bowl gave the best shape, for me. But it was successful and delicious every time. And by the way, it can be started in a cold oven, eliminating that tricky part of getting the bread into the burning hot baking pot. Google no-knead bread, cold oven.
 
VictoriaOC May 24, 2020
Thank you, Rosalind, that helps, a lot! I'm going to try it in the 3.75 qt. oval and see how it goes ... wish me luck!
 
freshbread May 24, 2020
Good luck, indeed! With good results, I've used a 4-quart Staub Round Cocotte .
 
Picholine May 27, 2020
Use a larger than 2qt Dutch Oven. Works great!
 
VictoriaOC May 27, 2020
Thanks, again!
 
Amy February 25, 2021
Thank you, freshbread! I followed these instructions and used my Staub cocotte. It's beautiful! Hard to wait for it to cool.......... :)
 
Erin A. May 24, 2020
Has anyone made this bread recipe in a solar cooker? I use an All-American Sun Oven which typically gets up to 350-400 degrees. Just curious if I start with cooking this recipe at 350 and just cook it a bit longer will it turn out the same?
 
Erin A. May 24, 2020
Also, has anyone adapted this Recipe to use homemade sourdough starter instead of instant yeast?
 
Anita June 2, 2020
hi, curious if you ended up trying that and how it worked out? I'm thinking of giving it a shot and substituting by weight for water and flour (and crossing my fingers).
 
neonkitty May 10, 2020
Just did a 5 way Zoom call with busy mom's and taught them this super easy bread recipe that we will all continue to enjoy for ever and ever. The only tricky part was the end when we had to watch the oven as everyone's oven is different but getting to that 'golden point' was easy and we are now enjoying the best avocado / vegan butter/ hot honey toasts ever. Thank you!
 
Bobbie C. May 9, 2020
What size Staub is she using?
 
Yvonne P. May 8, 2020
The demonstration shows using a lid to bake but the directions do not say to cover the bowls before putting in the oven. Which direction should I follow?
 
Alex G. May 8, 2020
I’ve never used a lid to bake. It comes out beautifully. Happy baking!
 
Tamara K. May 8, 2020
This is the best recipe I've found yet! The buttered bowl makes for an amazingly crispy bottom crust, and the top is lightly perfect, and the bread is so soft. It was easy and quick to make, and my house smells amazing! Had some still warm with butter and raspberry preserves - omg! It will be good with OO, S&P, and rosemary; as grilled cheese; and just toasted. We'll be using this one again. Thank you!
 
joanie_moe May 8, 2020
Can I use my warming drawer to rise the dough? What temperature would I set the warming drawer to? I have never made bread, but sm going to try this tomorrow. Thanks!
 
Karen L. May 2, 2020
This recipe has become my go to bread recipe. I just finished my 3rd loaf and the smell of fresh baked bread is all over my kitchen. The scent of yeast stays with the bread after cooling. I have been making it in a 50 year old white corning ware casserole pan. It makes the perfect sized single loaf, easily sliced as it is more squarish. I think I will next try it in a Dutch oven (5.5 quart). Thank you so much for such an easy, amazing recipe.
 
Gabi C. April 27, 2020
I would love to make this recipe and would like to make it in my Dutch oven, however I only have a larger size Dutch, 5.5 quart. Otherwise I have a 12 cast iron pan with lid, could I use either one of these for this recipe?
 
Susanna April 27, 2020
I’ve used my Staub 5.5 quart for this bread and it works well. Just use the same recipe amounts but make one loaf, not two.
 
Gabi C. April 27, 2020
Great! I’ll give it a shot. Thank you Susanna!
 
Jessica April 27, 2020
You could use the “faux” focaccia version with your 12” cast iron.
 
Debbie April 10, 2020
This looks delicious, and I love the little round loaves. Where can I find the oven-safe 1 quart bowls?
 
bamcnamara April 10, 2020
Amazon :) They sell cute bowl covers too!!!
 
Debbie April 10, 2020
Thank you!
 
Micq September 20, 2020
I bought the basic Pyrex set at Macy’s this summer. All the Pyrex was on sale! I used the second to smallest bowl (didn’t have a measure on it) and the next size up, which is marked as 2.5 qt. I let it rise until the dome of the bread in the smaller bowl was just up to the rim. Both loaves turned out amazing!!
 
Debbie September 21, 2020
Thank you!
 
Lynn B. April 9, 2020
love this so easy has anyone tried adding jalapeno peppers and grated cheddar cheese to the mix
 
Stacey November 20, 2020
https://food52.com/blog/19411-once-you-ve-made-genius-peasant-bread-try-these-5-variations
 
Rachel November 22, 2020
I have as well as olives and a few other variations. All turned out delicious. I put the additional ingredients into the dry mix and let them rise with the dough.
 
Alex G. April 8, 2020
Has anyone made this bread using sourdough starter instead of yeast, which seems to be in short supply these days. This is an excellent recipe. The bread always comes out perfect.
 
Austincook April 8, 2020
I haven't tried this, but in a King Arthur Flour thread on whole wheat bread, a similar question was answered by a KAF baker with the suggestion that you can substitute 1 cup of fed starter for 1 cup AP flour and 1/2 cup water in that recipe. I've successfully used that ratio in other doughs, to enhance the flavor. However, you would have to dramatically alter the proofing time to make sourdough starter the only leavening agent. I'm not expert, but I'd guess it would take a 2-3 hours for the first rise, and probably overnight in the fridge for the second. Please let us know if you try this!
 
Alex G. April 8, 2020
Thanks. I will try and let you know. I have to grow my starter a bit first - just received yesterday.
 
Austincook April 15, 2020
In today's Washington Post food chat, a very similar question was answered with a link to a food blog entry that had a detailed explanation. I hope this helps.
http://www.wildyeastblog.com/going-wild/
 
Alex G. April 15, 2020
Thanks for that link. Great information!
 
cacapoopoo January 31, 2020
bad bread
 
Rosalind P. April 27, 2020
I didn't think "bad" so much as "meh!" BUT the tradeoff is how quickly it can be made. And in every way, better than super-market "bread". If you have time the many "no-knead" [i.e. wet dough] recipes give you superior loaves. But they need a lot of lead-time -- planning.
 
Suzy S. April 23, 2021
Since you give no details, I have no idea what you think makes it bad. (Or”meh.”) It is meant to be a plain white bread, so if you’re into sourdough or something you can whack someone over the head with, you may not be into this. But this is my favorite bread recipe, and makes a beautiful loaf every time. It helps to follow the recipe as written, and do make sure you use instant yeast.

I got the cookbook she wrote around this recipe, and it explains how to make different size loaves (among many other things). We are a 2-person household, so the loaves in the Pyrex bowls are perfect. I’ve also made it in loaf pans, though, and it was lovely.

The cookbooks has recipes using different flours, other seasonings, etc. LOTS of variations!


 
Suzanne T. November 29, 2019
Love this bread! Love putting garlic and herbs in it.
Has anyone tried a sweeter kind by adding cinnamon chips with cinnamon and more sugar? Would this bread work with that direction?
 
freshbread November 29, 2019
Yes, it will! In fact, Alexandra's book, where this base recipe appears, offers versions that include cinnamon swirl as well as a cinnamon-sugar monkey bread. Worth picking up at a bookstore or checking out from your library — it's a fantastic way to explore all that this one recipe can do!