We made peasant bread this weekend and Alex could not stop eating it. I had lofty plans to get photos of this bread sliced and in a better backdrop, but every time Alex walked by the cooling bread (this was taken right after it came out of the oven) he picked off a piece rendering my bread photo-unworthy. :-). He loved this stuff so much he stopped playing outside and came in to get more, over and over.
It's a very easy bread to make, and yummy.
This bread is baked in bowls instead of loaf pans, though I'm sure you could do it that way. When it's sliced, you can use it as sandwich bread and it has a lovely artisan shape.
This bread doesn't need to be kneaded or rolled out. It can rise and bake in the same bowl, making clean-up much easier.
Set out butter and let soften at room temperature over 20-30 minutes.
2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups warm water
Dissolve honey in warm water.
Sprinkle yeast over top. No stirring needed.
Let yeast activate over 10-15 minutes until nice and foamy on top.
While that happens...
4 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
Combine in bowl and set aside.
Using softened butter, butter two medium sized oven safe bowls. Pyrex is great. Maybe a couple teaspoons. Maybe more. More butter = more yummy.
When yeast is finished, pour over flour/salt mixture.
Stir with wooden spoon or spatula. Clean sides well.
Dough will be very wet and sloppy. That's good for this dough.
Once the dough is well mixed and the sides are clean, you'll have a gloppy blob at the bottom of your bowl. Divide into two and put into buttered bowls. Remember it's gloppy so you'll just have to go with it. You'll see.
Cover the bowls of dough with a tea towel for an hour and a half. Two hours is OK, too. This is the first rise. Keep the bowls in a warm place.
After the first rise is done, preheat your oven to 425.
Now, take salad forks and poke down the dough, or use a spatula to fold the wet dough onto itself several times to 'punch' it down. This isn't a doug where you use your hands to work, it's just too wet. Once the dough is small again, cover again for 20-30 minutes. This is the second rise.
After the second rise, the dough should be filling most of your bowl. If it isn't even close to the top (3/4 full is a good measure) the the bowl is probably too big. Use a spatula to transfer to a smaller bowl. Don't forget to butter the new bowl first.
Now bake at 425 for 10 minutes.
Turn down the heat to 375 and bake 20-25 more minutes.
Remove bowls and turn over onto cooling rack. If you buttered well, the bread will fall right out. If it feels a little stuck, try using a butter knife to gently slide around the inside edge.
Slather with buckets of butter and enjoy!
*When cool, you can use this as sandwich bread.
*Store inside a bag for a few days or freeze. But it's not likely to last longer than the end of the day in most households!
*After 3-5 days, when it's a bit stale, cut into squares and dry in oven on 170 degrees until toasted all the way through. Add garlic, parmesan or other seasonings to make into croutons, or grind down to make breadcrumbs.
*A trick to helping your dough rise- preheat oven to 170 degrees, or lowest setting. Turn off as soon as it reaches it's temperature. Place covered dough bowls into warmed oven (that is turned OFF) to rise.
*You can modify the recipe with 1 cup rolled graham crackers + 3 cups flour.
*Using whole wheat flour changes the consistency. Experiment with what you like. I used half bread flour (unbleached) plus half whole wheat flour.
*I use honey to activate yeast for breads and it works great. You can also use regular sugar, using the same measurement.
*I use real butter in all my recipes. I imagine you could use margarine or other butter substitute if desired.