The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

European Peasant Bread: Take 3

Danni3ll3's picture

European Peasant Bread: Take 3

I haven’t done this bread since the spring so it was time to give it a shot with the slap and fold method that I have been using for the last little bit. I increased the amount of whole grain a bit to get a bigger and healthier loaf. Hoping that this isn’t too much for the 3 quart Dutch ovens I have. 



 Makes 3 loaves


200 g spelt berries

200 g rye berries

200 g Kamut berries

820 g unbleached flour

50 g freshly ground flax

950 g filtered water

26 g Himalayan pink salt

40 g local yogurt

280 g 100% hydration levain (procedure for this is in recipe)


 Two nights before:

  1. Mill the kamut, spelt and rye berries and sift out the bran to feed the levain. Weigh the bran and set aside. Add enough fresh flour to the weight of bran to equal 140 g. Save the bran and this amount of flour for the levain. 
  2. Place the remainder of the fresh flour in a tub. Add the unbleached flour and the freshly ground flax. Cover and reserve.
  3. Remove 10 g of starter from your refrigerated starter and feed it 10 g of filtered water and 10 g of bran. Leave to rise overnight.

The morning before:

  1. Feed the levain 20 g of filtered water and 20 g of bran.

The night before:

  1. Feed the levain 40 g of filtered water and 40 of bran/fresh flour. Let rise overnight. It makes a very thick mixture. 

Main dough:

  1. Feed the levain 80 g of filtered water and 80 g of fresh flour. This should use up all of the flour saved for the levain. Let rise until double. Mine took about 5 1/2 hours at 73F.
  2. A couple of hours before the levain is ready, mix together the water and the reserved flour/flax mix. If mixing by hand, I found it easier to first put in 850 g of water, mix as much as possible and then add the remaining 100 g of water. Sprinkle the pink salt on top for the autolyse. Let rest for 2 or so hours until your levain is ready.
  3. Once your levain is ready, add it and the yogurt to the dough. Mix very well and let rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Do three sets of French slaps and folds (70/40/10) at 30 minute intervals. Again on 30 minute intervals, do 2 sets of stretches and folds in the tub.
  5. Let rest an hour at room temp (73F) and then retard the bulk for two and a half hours. The dough rose about 30%. Total bulk fermentation was 6 hours and 15 minutes (3.75 hours on the counter and 2.5 in the fridge). 
  6. Tip the dough out on a bare counter, sprinkle the top with flour and divide into portions of ~875 g. Round out the portions into rounds with a dough scraper and let rest one hour on the counter. 
  7. Do a final shape by flouring the rounds and flipping the rounds over on a lightly floured counter. Gently stretch the dough out into a circle. Pull and fold the third of the dough closest to you over the middle. Pull the right side and fold over the middle and do the same to the left. Fold the top end to the center patting out any cavities. Finally stretch the two top corners and fold over each other in the middle. Roll the bottom of the dough away from you until the seam is underneath the dough. Cup your hands around the dough and pull towards you, doing this on all sides of the dough to round it off. Finally spin the dough to make a nice tight boule.
  8. Sprinkle rice flour in the bannetons. Place the dough seam side down in the bannetons, cover, let rest for a few minutes on the counter and then put to bed in a cold (38F) fridge for 9-10 hours. 


Baking Day

  1. The next morning, heat the oven to 475F with the Dutch ovens inside for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn out the dough seam side up onto a cornmeal sprinkled counter. Place rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the pots, and carefully place the dough seam side up inside. 
  2. Cover the pots and bake the loaves at 450 F for 30 minutes, remove the lids, drop the temperature to 425F, and bake for another 17 minutes. Internal temperature should be 205F or more.


Well, I guess I should reduce the amount of dough a bit since the loaves all have flat tops from hitting the lid! 🙄 Otherwise, I am pleased with this version! Crumb shot when we cut into one.



crustncrumb's picture

These look terrific.  You must have a big oven if you can bake six loaves at the same time.  I would be happy to be able to bake two at once in my home oven.  This loaf goes on my to-bake list now.  

Danni3ll3's picture

oven. I fit 3 Dutch ovens on one rack and 3 on the other. The bottom rack is sitting about and inch off the floor of the oven. It is fortunate that this particular oven has the bottom element hidden under the floor. 

crustncrumb's picture

Wow, I would have never thought it possible.  Since you mention element, I take it's an electric oven.  Mine is gas not sure if I could get away with using the lowest slot for the bottom rack.  Anyway, great bake.  

Danni3ll3's picture

DesigningWoman's picture

Just Yum! Gorgeous bake as ever, I don't know how you do it, so perfectly consistently and so consistently perfect!



Elsie_iu's picture

not from the crumb at least. The bread looks great for sure. I do hope that I can produce loafs with such remarkable oven spring that the dough even reaches the lid :)

I remember you told me once the flax seeds were added for nutrition. I personally prefer the texture and flavour of whole flax seeds despite the fact that it's difficult to digest that way. Other than nutrients, did you notice if the the ground flax seeds contributed moisture to your bread?


Danni3ll3's picture

some of the water actually. Otherwise, I don’t notice that they do much else other than act like another grain in the dough, which is a bit strange as they form a gel if you soak them on their own. They certainly don’t add moisture to the dough, from what I can see. 

WatertownNewbie's picture

Once again you have treated us to a visual feast.  How do you find the time to write these up in such great detail?  (Not to mention bake so often and so many loaves.)

Are these for the bread kitchen too?  They must love seeing you appear in the doorway.

Danni3ll3's picture

before I make it, then I adjust as I am making it. Copying and pasting parts from some of my previous recipes also help shorten the time it takes to type everything up. I do that especially with the fermentation and baking parts. 

As to making so many loaves, there are another 6 that you can’t see. 😉 If I am making one batch, I might as well make 4 batches which makes a total of 12 loaves. I can manage 12 loaves at once by hand. I have the tubs, the bannetons and the fridge space. As to the oven, I bake 6 at a time. 

I do bake most weekends which really isn’t that often. It is going to get crazy though in the next couple of weeks because I need to bake 48 loaves for people who have requested them for Xmas. 😳

And yes, 3 of those loaves are going to the soup kitchen. 

leslieruf's picture

love the crumb!  very lucky folk to be getting one of your loaves! 


dabrownman's picture

whole grains for bread.  Less than 10% pre-fermented bran levain, 44% whole grain is also one of Lucy's favorite breads   She is very proud of you and your success. Autolyse with the PH salt sprinkled on top with some yogurt.  Your version came put just perfect.  3 B's and OSM make this a keeper for sure.  It has to be one of the very best tasting breads too!  Lucy says she will make one for Cousin Jay's Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday with yogurt this time too!  The other way or two around the flax digestibility dilemma is to sprout them and either dry them and then crack them coarsely in a spice grinder or don't dry them and grind them a bit in a small Cuisinart processor - the last way won't steal any water form the dough.  Sprouting will make them gel up like chia seeds but they will eventually disperse with slap and folds. Now I have to find the flax seeds i the freezer.  Lucy is getting her teeth cleaned today but she asked about how your new apprentice is doing.  Well done as usual and 

Happy baking Danni

Danni3ll3's picture

is busy torturing the Golden! She is failing sadly as an apprentice as her focus is totally on either stealing chewies and toys out of the Golden’s mouth, or prancing (yes, prancing!), in front of him, taunting him with whatever she stole from him. I really try to keep her focused on the task at hand but it is proving to be difficult! More growth (mental growth, not physical as it looks like she will end up oversize - which means bye bye showing career) and maturity is needed for her to achieve her potential (Yes, I have written a few report cards with this very statement in it once or twice 😂).