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The Peasant Bread Master Recipe


Ingredients

  • 4 cups (512 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • Softened unsalted butter, for coating the bowls

** You will need two 1-quart oven-safe bowls for baking the loaves


Instructions

  1. Add the the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast to a large bowl. Whisk well to combine. Pour in the water and the mix thoroughly until all of the flour is fully absorbed. The dough will look (and feel) wet and sticky.
  2. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in bulk size. This should take about 1 to 1½ hours or more, depending on temperature.
  3. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  4. Generously coat two 1-quart oven-safe bowls with the softened butter. Using two forks, gently loosen the dough from the sides of the bowl while coaxing it toward the center; it will deflate. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you go, turning the dough into a rough ball.
  5. Divide the dough in half using your two forks. It helps to do this working from the center out. Then use the forks to lift each half into a coated bowl. Ali’s tip: “If the dough is too wet to transfer with forks, lightly grease your hands with butter or oil, then transfer each half to a bowl.”
  6. Let the dough rise at room temperature, uncovered, close to the oven while it’s preheating. This should take about 10 to 20 minutes, or until the top of the dough has just risen above the rims of the bowls.
  7. Place the bowls onto the center rack and bake for about 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375°F and continue to bake for 17 to 20 minutes or more, until the loaves turn golden brown on all sides.
  8. Remove the bowls from the oven and invert the loaves onto a wire cooling rack. If the loaves need more color, place them back into their bowls and bake for 5 more minutes, or until they’re done to your liking.
  9. Cool for 15 minutes before cutting into slices. Enjoy!

Notes

Ali’s tip: “Many of the bread recipes here call for lukewarm water. What does that mean? Use 1 part boiling water to 3 parts cold water. For most, this means ½ cup boiling water and 1½ cups cold water. This trick will create perfectly lukewarm water every time—no need to take its temperature. If water is not specified as lukewarm, that means room temperature will do just fine.”