Monday, November 1, 2010

European Peasant Bread

European Peasant Bread Baked in a Dutch Oven

I'm just "lovin' bakin' in my dutch oven."  So, instead of the assigned HB5 breads, I thought I'd make another dutch oven bread this week.  I could make another Jim Lahey bread, but how about one of the "Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes" breads?  

There are still a number of  AB5 breads that I haven't tried.  This would be a good time to try the European Peasant Bread, with the twist of doing it in a covered casserole.

I made a half batch of the dough, with a few changes:
  • Used white whole wheat flour
  • Added 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten, due to all the rye and whole wheat flours used
  • It rose in a small (Dollar Store) basket, to simulate a brotform.
  • I sifted the dry ingredients.  Michelle introduced me to a  battery operated sifter, and it's great! 
Norpro Battery Operated Sifter
At first, I thought I'd do a one pound loaf.  However, since I wanted the bread to rise in a basket, I decided to use the two pounds of dough.  Not too small, not too big, just right!

The basket was sprayed and floured before adding the dough, to keep the dough from sticking.  I put the basket into a plastic bag and it was placed into the warmed microwave to rise.  I'm not sure how long I let the dough rise--just until the dough filled the basket nicely.  Meanwhile, the dutch oven heated in a 450 degree oven.

After the dutch oven heated for about 30 minutes, I removed it with my favorite Ove-Gloves mitts.  The dough plopped into the pot when I turned the basket of dough over.  Shaking the pot slightly helped shape the bread better in the pot.  I could see the straw basket pattern in the dough!  I was nervous about slashing the dough in such a hot pot, so that wasn't done.

Here's a picture of the bread, when I took the lid off.  The bread baked, uncovered, for about 20 minutes more.

Since I've had breads with damp centers in the past, I made sure to use my digital thermometer in the center of the bread. The first time, the temperature went up slowly to 205 degrees.  After ten more minutes in the oven, the temperature went up to 205 degrees rapidly.  My instincts told me that the bread was ready to come out of the oven.

This is a picture of the finished European Peasant Bread. You can see some of the pattern of the basket on the bread.

The texture of this bread was really good.  I know I baked it longer to make sure I didn't get a wet center, but I wonder if the sifting helped.  It might help, since the vital wheat gluten is mixed throughout. 

Yummy, yummy bread!   The center was not damp, either!  Glad I listened to my instincts.

It reminded us of the deli rye bread, but without the caraway seeds.  Next time, I might add the seeds. We ate the bread for dinner with orange chicken and millet pilaf on Friday night.  There was only a little left by the time Sunday rolled around (a sign of a good bread in my house), but it was just enough for salami sandwiches--a quick Sunday dinner.

Thanks for stopping by to visit! Come back soon, I'll be baking again often. I hope you will leave a comment below. I read every comment, and really appreciate your feedback.


  1. It looks great and I will check our $2 shop for a basket :)

  2. Stunning...just stunning loaf of bread! Wish I could do as well. I know..practice, practice!

    Glad you are enjoying baking in cast iron. I love making soup in my cast iron pot, there's just something about cast iron that makes things extra special good!

  3. Yummy looking bread!! Love the step by step.. I've got to try cooking in my dutch oven!

  4. This is one of our favorites from AB in 5. Have not made it in awhile, what with the HB in 5 "schedule." Yours turned out beautifully. I have been baking in a covered pot a lot lately, and like it.

  5. I like your bread. I'm very new to "artisan" baking and I never thought to use a basket! I'm so excited--I'm going to try that next time I make a round boule (is that what it's called?). Thanks for sharing your work!

  6. Thanks, everyone! This bread was a lot of fun. I find myself checking out basket patterns now, whenever I see baskets!

    Carlyn, I guess this would be considered a boule (ball).

    Michelle, you and I should talk soups! I just got a slow cooker. Will make beef stew for Friday. Also baking Peter Reinhart's sourdough bread. Will have to see HB5 schedule to see what will go with it!

  7. Wonderful looking loaf!! I'll have to check out that recipe from the ABin5 book. I don't own it so I'll have to go to the library. I've been looking at baskets recently too. What size dutch oven did you use for your loaf?

  8. Hi Tweety, the library is a great idea! I'll even be checking them out for slow cooker recipes.

    I bought a 3 1/2qt Tramontina dutch oven. I know Jim Lahey recommends a 4 1/2 to 5qt, but that's too heavy for me. This size seems to work for this amount of flour. If I made a larger recipe, I would bake in 2 loaves.

  9. Great experimentation! I have made that bread often and enjoy it. I find that I need to bake all the AB & HBinFive breads 5 minutes longer than the time suggested for baking.

  10. Thanks, Clarice! I always hold my breath, just a little! Glad it worked out.

    I agree with you, the breads need to be baked longer. And I also check the temp of my oven.

    Thanks for the nice comment. :)

  11. Beautiful! I love baking bread in a dutch oven. I bet the crust was outstanding. Looks delish!

  12. hi Cathy,

    Yes, the bread was wonderful! This time, it was cooked all the way thru. I wonder if using a 3.5 qt, instead of a 5qt, dutch oven changes things.