Monday, January 21, 2013

Fast & Easy Herbed Peasant Bread

This peasant bread has been a family holiday tradition of mine for the past several years. It is now a staple at every major gathering that involves food. It's tons easier than you would imagine, and absolutely delicious. Because of how easy it is to throw together, and requires no kneading whatsoever, I like to bake this whenever I make a big pot of soup or stew. It soaks up the broth PERFECTLY...

Once you bake this peasant bread, I'm sure it will become a favorite recipe of yours too! 

2 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups lukewarm water

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal or polenta
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp of each: garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano (can use dried or fresh herbs depending on availability)

1-2 tbsp melted butter (optional)

Dissolve the sugar into the water, then sprinkle the yeast over it (stirring is optional), and set aside for a few minutes.
Proofed Yeast

Dry Ingredients
While waiting for the yeast to proof, get out 2 glass or ceramic pie plates (casserole dishes will work too). Rub the pie plates with a paper towel coated in shortening or butter, and sprinkle flour over it. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, cornmeal, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and herbs. Once your yeast is foamy (usually takes 5 to 10 minutes), add the water mixture to the flour mixture, and stir well with a wooden spoon.
Mixed Dough

With a spatula, put half of your dough in one pie plate, and the rest in the other. Flatten and spread the dough in the pie plates and pour the melted butter (equally) over both doughs.

Dough before rising
Place both pie plates in a warm dry place (I use my oven), with a warm, damp (clean) kitchen towel laid over them.
The oven is a great place for dough to rise

Let the dough rise. Because we used instant yeast, this should only require one rising, and should only take 60 to 90 minutes. Once the doughs are doubled in size, remove them from the oven so you can preheat it. :)
Dough after rising

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Once it's preheated, bake your loaves for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, rotate your pie plates, lower the temperature to 375 degrees, and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes.

Test the bread to make sure its done. It should be golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
Bread after baking
Now that the bread is out of the oven, slide a butter knife around the edge of both pie plates. You can feel when the bread is loose enough to pop out of the pie plate. Place the loaves on a large cutting  board, and using a bread knife, slice both loaves into 1-inch strips. You can also cut the strips in half so they are shorter (see photo).

Place on a serving dish and prepare for your guests to Ooh and Aah!! This is great with soup, stew, as a side dish at a holiday dinner, or as an appetizer with a dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I have even made delicious grilled sandwiches with the leftover bread. It is the best bread I have ever eaten!!!!!
Herbed Peasant Bread with Sweet Potato Stew

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