European Soft Peasant Bread


whole wheat bread recipe, making whole wheat breadPeasant bread is a wonderful lean bread from Europe made with a combination of whole grain flours. This variation gives you a chance to explore whole wheat flour, graham flour, and dark rye flour. In combination, they make a great hearty bread.

This recipe calls for baking the bread in nine-inch pie pans. The pans help hold the loaves in shape resulting in taller loaves than if baked on flat sheets. This is a whole grain recipe but by soaking some of the flour overnight, the bran is softened and absorbs moisture resulting in a softer bread than many peasant breads. The recipe makes two large loaves.

Baker’s notes: This recipe calls for a soft crust. This bread can properly be made as an artisan bread with a hard, chewy crust. To do so, follow the baking directions for Easy Sourdough Bread.

This bread can also be made in loaf pans for sandwich breads. Form the loaves and bake the bread at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until done.

If you would like to make similar loaves from a mix, you can do so with our Irish Potato Wheat Bread mixes. The Irish Potato Wheat Bread has some white bread flour to temper the whole wheat and give it more structure and is a richer bread with an ample addition of buttermilk.

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup dark rye flour
2 1/3 cups water at room temperature

1 seven gram packet of instant yeast (or two teaspoons)
2 cups graham flour
1 teaspoon dough conditioner
3 tablespoons wheat gluten

1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons melted and slightly cooled butter
2 cups more or less whole wheat flour

extra graham flour for dusting

Directions

1. The night before, mix the one cup of whole wheat flour, the rye flour, and the water together until combined. Cover and let sit at room temperature until the next day.

2. The next day, move the flour and water mixture to the bowl of your stand-type mixer. Add the yeast and combine using the dough hook. Add the graham flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter on top of the dry ingredients and then begin mixing with your dough hook attachment. Add portions of the two cups whole wheat flour until the dough forms a ball. Continue kneading with the machine, adding more flour as needed to get the right consistency. The dough should be soft when you poke it with your finger. The dough ball should knead for about five minutes at medium speed or until the wheat gluten is well-developed. Remove the dough to a greased bowl, turn once, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled.

3. Grease two nine-inch pie pans with shortening and sprinkle them with cornmeal, graham flour, or semolina flour. Set aside. After the dough has risen, divide it in two with a knife. Form a ball by pulling the dough around the center and tucking the seams together on the bottom thus gently stretching the surface of the dough. Pinch the seams together to keep them from opening as the loaf expands. Place the seam side down on the prepared pie pan and repeat with the second loaf. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled. Because these are whole grain loaves with rye flour, it may take longer for them to rise, maybe two hours. Let them rise until they are soft and puffy. While the bread is still rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. When the bread has risen, lightly dust the tops of the loaves with graham flour. When the bread has risen and just before placing the loaves in the oven, take a very sharp knife or razor and score the tops by making several quick slashes at a 45 degree angle and not more than 1/4-inch deep. The slashes can be made in a cross or square pattern as shown. (Slashes allow steam to escape without splitting the loaves.) Immediately place the loaves on the center rack of the oven leaving as much room for the air to circulate around the loaves as possible. Bake for 40 minutes or until the bread is done and well browned. If you are using an insta-read thermometer, the bread should register 195 to 200 degrees when done. Remove the loaves from the pans to cool on wire racks. Let the bread cool before slicing.

Notes:

  • Graham flour is a coarser whole wheat flour.  You may substitute either fine stone ground flour or coarse stone ground flour.
  • Rye flour and other flours are available at The Prepared Pantry
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