No yeast – no problem. No buttermilk – no problem. Keep reading. You must have flour, milk (whole, canned, powdered), baking soda and salt! You ready to make peasant bread?
It is at times like this, that I am so thankful that my Grandmother Sallie Rose was a very resourceful woman, and that I spent a lot of time with her. So, let’s make some peasant bread!
- 3 ¾ cup flour (all white or ½ white and ½ wheat, but not self-rising)
- 2 Tbs extra flour (for surface prep/kneading)
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups buttermilk (or milk with 2 Tbs of either lemon juice or vinegar, let rest for 5 minutes)
I’m sharing this old recipe that minimizes ingredients, but yields delicious peasant bread. At the end of the recipe I’ll share some additional options if you have additional ingredients.
This is how Grandmother Sallie Rose taught me to make this bread.
Get all your ingredients gathered and measured. Pull out the big cookie sheet. Sprinkle some flour on the kneading surface (this means 2 Tbs extra flour sprinkled on counter top or a piece of parchment paper or a flour sack). Heat your oven to 430 degrees.
Get a larger sized bowl so the flour doesn’t fluff out on you. Put the flour, soda and salt in the bowl. Mix it really well because you want the salt and soda spread throughout the flour. (Note: you don’t need a fancy mixer with a dough attachment to make great bread.) Make a well in the flour (push your fist down in the center of the flour to make a hole – push down gently or you will be wearing that flour).
Pour in the buttermilk. Stir with a wooden spoon until it is too thick to stir.
Take off your wedding band. Dip your hands in flour. Mix the dough with your hands until you pull it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepped surface. Dip your hands in flour. Knead the dough (carefully pull it together and fold onto itself 8 – 10 times and no more). Like good biscuits, the less you handle the dough the better.
Make one big loaf or two smaller ones. I like two smaller ones – if you want two smaller, just cut the dough into 2 parts. Place the dough on the baking pan. I like to use parchment paper on the cookie sheet — too lazy to scrub the pan. Pat it down to about 1 1/2 inches or so. Use a sharp knife to cut a big X into the top of the bread.
Put the pan in the middle of the fully heated oven. Bake for 20 minutes at 430 degrees. Do not open the oven door. Turn the oven down to 390 degrees and bake for 20 minutes more to make sure the middle is done. Remove bread and allow to cool.
Peasant bread is very rustic and does not rise very tall. Slice vertically for sliced bread to eat as a side. Slice horizontally if you want sandwich bread. Or, just tear off a big hunk to have with homemade vegetable soup. This is a dry, crusty bread since it has no yeast or egg.
“Now Sister, you can always keep your home clean and feed your family. It doesn’t take a lot of money to make a happy home,” shared Sallie Rose Chisam when she taught me to make this bread all those years ago.
- Brush the top of dough with a little extra buttermilk, sprinkle with oats and bake.
- Add fresh herbs to the dough before baking.
- Add raisins to dough before baking.