This French peasant bread recipe is “so easy it makes me want to make bread” – that’s what a friend told me about this recipe and that’s the biggest takeaway! A super simple and delicious way to make bread.
They say the key to making bread is patience…well, with this recipe, you won’t need as much patience as you are used to. With this French peasant bread, no kneading required!
What ingredients do you need to make this easy bread?
- Warm water
- AP flour
- Olive oil
- Corn meal
Did you know that the reason you put sugar with yeast is that it activates it and helps it grows faster? This recipe, in particular, is no-fuss and rising time is less than normal due to the amount of sugar in it. More sugar = faster growing.
I talk a bit more about the process in this post if you’re interested.
When you’re adding flour to the recipe, you can add up to one more cup, based on the texture of the dough. You don’t want the dough to feel too dry, but also not too wet. I know that’s sometimes hard to tell, so use the pictures to help guide you as well!
This dough will be sticky, but you don’t want to see any liquid. When stirring, the dough will feel bouncy.
You’ll know the dough is done when it comes together like a ball and doesn’t stick to the bottom of the bowl. Once the dough is mixed, put plastic wrap (or a kitchen towel) over and let it sit for another hour.
Once the dough is completely risen and ready to go, it’s time to form the loaves! Start by putting olive oil on your hands so nothing sticks and divide the dough in two.
To shape the loaves, you can pull and stretch the dough and fold it underneath itself. It forms a small ball and will be smooth on top.
Before the bread goes in the oven, you will score the top. This allows the bread to bake and expand. If you’re feeling up to it, you can get creative and make fun designs on the top while scoring the bread.
Once the bread is baked, it’s time to enjoy! I especially love to use this bread to dip into soups like this one! Or slice it up and make some french toast.
A few tips for this bread recipe:
- You can cook this bread in two loaf pans if you’d prefer.
- Right before you put the bread in the oven, you can shape it as “tall” or as balled up as you like.
- This is a very forgiving bread recipe and is so easy!
- Temperature, humidity and altitude will affect the dough when stirring.
French Peasant Bread
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast 1 packet
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups warm water
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon corn meal
- In a bowl combine yeast, sugar and warm water and proof the yeast for 15 minutes or until frothy on top.
- In another bowl combine flour and salt and stir with a wooden spoon.
- After the yeast has proofed pour about 3 cups of the flour and salt mixture into the warm water/yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine and then slowly add the remaining cup of flour-Don't knead it, it will be lumpy. You want to add only 3 cups of the flour and then the remaining cup of flour because you don't want it to be to dry, so if it feels too dry don't add the full remaining cup.
- Pour a little olive oil in a bowl and pat the dough with a little olive oil to keep it moist and put the dough it in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise until it has doubled in size for an hour.
- After an hour, pat a little olive oil on your hands and divide the dough into balls. Form two balls/loaves however you want to form them-either circular or rectangular.
- Sprinkle a little corn meal onto a baking sheet, and put the two formed loaves of dough on the baking sheet. Let rise for another hour in a warm area. Using a very sharp knife, cut a line across the top to 'score' the bread'
- Preheat oven to 425. After dough has risen for the second time, bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375, then bake for an additional 15 minutes. If you would like a firmer crust, bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- After baking remove from oven and let cool completely and then cut and enjoy!
This recipe is slightly adapted from a recipe found on food.com for French Peasant Bread
to ensure a crispy crust, if you like that, is to add a pan of cold water in the rack below when you bake the bread
Yes, that totally works!
Christina D says
My family enjoys fresh baked bread.
Thank you so much, so glad you enjoyed
Daniel Krueger says
I’m having some trouble. I’ve made this twice now and while the bread tastes good it turns out really flat. It doesn’t look like you pictures. Has anyone else run into this?
I end up using all the flour in my recipe and it lacks structure, It will start round, like I would expect, but as it’s cooking it flattens like a cookie would.
What advice do you have to keep the loaf round?
Hi Daniel, I would suggest adding a little more flour to give your dough a little more structure.
Daniel Krueger says
Hi, I had better luck this time. The bread held together and resembled a loaf not flat. I let everything sit longer. I let the yeast proof longer, let the dough rise longer each time. I also added a little more flour as well. One thing I noticed is that in each loaf the bread at the top was airy and had lots of air holes, where the bread at the bottom was more dense. What would make that happen and is there a way to correct for that?
So glad it turned out better for you. So I did some searching about the bread holes:
“These wholes come from the gasses released by the yeast that feeds on the starches and sugars in the dough that result in them releasing carbon dioxide which in turn helps your dough rise. When you have an uneven spread of these gasses it is the cause of the unwanted holes. Here below are various reason of why this uneven spread can happen.
-Not kneading the dough long enough which results in a weak gluten mesh
-Too much flour use in final shaping.
-Not giving enough time to the first rise or Underproofing.
-Not scoring or slashing the bread or not deep enough slashes
-The oven is not hot enough when you first put the bread inside
-Using too much yeast or leavening agents
Hope that helps explain it a little bit. I’ve made this recipe a bunch of times (and it’s one adapted slightly from another linked source) and the more times I make the more consistent and amazing it becomes. A lot with bread baking is learning how your personal kitchen and environment and style affects it and making the same recipe over and over. Thanks!
Mary Brands says
Where do you tell us to score or slash?
Thank you for your comment! It should be right before baking, I’ve added the note!
Renee south says
I think for me the difficulty w the above recipe is the description of wet sticky..after first mixing and that was a tad over 3 c of the flour..i set it to rise..after rising..way too wet to handle even if I had olive oil on my hands so I added more flour just do i could get the loaves formed.. presently on 2nd rise..we shall see..i did find you tube video and i think these peasant artisan breads need to be wet..just hard to tell how wet..perhaps a pic would be helpful…
Mine is in two loaf pans baking in the ove right now. I put it in loaf pans as I don’t have those bowl sizes. I make artisan do am used to wet doughs. My bread is huge! I might go up one size next time. The butter does smoke a bit so I won’t put it on top next time
Timer you payed is almost perfect. My kitchen was on the warm side when I did the first rise!
kimberlee Decker says
Way to wet . Im worried that in one reply you say ONE cup water but in recipe it says TWO. I just put mine in oven and both loves are so “flat that im worried . Wish i had option to add picture ….
Hi Kim, sorry you were having trouble with the recipe. Hope it ended up turning out for you. The recipe is 2 cups water, 4 cups flour, as written. This recipe was originally created by Genius Kitchen https://www.food.com/recipe/french-peasant-bread-400438 Hope everything ended up working out for you.
Nancy Campbell says
I love this recipe. My husband and I have been experimenting with it for over a year now. We have tried both white and whole wheat flour. Best with white for us. Then we love to add cheese and olives. Next wanting to try jalapeños and hard cheddar. I am also interested in Making an apple cinnamon nut loaf. Any ideas on how to approach this? Honestly, I just try stuff and sometimes it works and I feel lucky and sometimes, like yesterday, I have to throw my whole wheat hard as a frisbee bread right into the trash. My husband thought the birds might eat it, but I didn’t want to harm them.
Thank you so so much for sharing. My grandson is pretty sure I am the best baker now and all because of this wonderful recipe. Daughter in law loves it too.
Thank you so much for your feedback! i love hearing different versions you’ve tried. For the apple nut one, I actually have a recipe for a challah bread I think would be great with some apples (https://sweetphi.com/cinnamon-sugar-pecan-challah-braid/)
Madi Brasher says
Hi! This was my first ever bread recipe and it was SO GOOD. I added 1.5 tbs of fresh thyme and a little rosemary and it was so good. Thank you for sharing!
You’re so welcome, love the modifications you made!!
Thanks so much for posting this! We have a glut of bread flour (overly ambitious this last year) 🥴. Can it be used in this recipe instead AP? If so, what other adjustments might be needed? So looking forward to making this.
I think you’ll love this bread! You can make a 1:1 substitute. For 1 cup bread flour, use 1 cup all-purpose!
Christine Carter says
I made this recipe and ended up using 5 cups of flour altogether. I mixed with my kitchen aid. I first added 3 then 4 cups and it wasn’t even pulling off the edges of the bowl. So I added flour little by little approximately 5 cups before I decided it was okay to take out of the bowl. Then I let it rise and it did great. Poured onto a floured surface, kneaded it 5 times and placed into a bowl to rise again. The second rise brought it almost to the edge of what I consider a fairly large bowl. I didn’t divide it. Just baked it and it was perfect and so delicious!
Thank you so much for commenting and leaving your feedback. So glad it was perfect and delicious!
it sounds like you made it like regular bread recipe,, I have made bread my whole life off and on and when I made this bread I found it very tempting to add the extra flour to get it to release from side of bowl and then tempting to need. Very tempting , I had to force myself to follow the recipe the first couple of times and I just love how the bread turns out . The crust as that extra crispy and is so delightful.. I have to admit I still have a bit of temptation to not have a wet dough and the instinct to need still rising up but so far I have not made regular bread since finding this recipe. 🙂
I’m so happy to hear this, thank you for sharing!!
I made it yesterday, loose batter and slightly overproofed… very flat bake. My family loved it (one even said it reminded her of sourdough) I decided to try it again, today. Added a bit more flour (possibly 1/4 cup) because the humidity is crazy here. Batter was only a bit tighter but the 2nd rise was better than yesterday.
Presently waiting on results.
Update to come.
Thanks for sharing Janie, I’ve made this a few times and it’s always so delicious, hope it worked out for you!
kimberlee Decker says
How was it? Can’t find update.
What type of yeast?
I always use Red Star Yeast Active Dry Yeast
Just to let folks who are baking for one or two, you can half this recipe successfully!
That’s so great to hear, thanks for commenting
I half this recipe most of the time , just for the sake to give one away. I love this recipe.
What do you mean when you say “dive it down”? I’m not familiar with that term – does it simply mean “divide”?
Thank you for pointing that out. I’ve read/made this recipe so many times and my eyes must have just skimmed over that mistake. It’s suppose to be “divide it”… the next sentence says that you’re forming two dough balls, so hopefully that made itself clear. I have changed it, thanks again for pointing that out.
Shawn rains says
I made this recipe and I loved it. I followed the recipe and then added a bit of cheese to the dough, brushed the bowl with garlic/rosemary butter for just a touch of savory flavor. This is fun and easy to make.
Oh that’s such a great addition, thank you for sharing!
I am a seasoned baker and had nothing but trouble with this recipe. It was so soupy. There was no way I could even divide the dough. I just poured it into the bowl for baking. And forget that pretty top….mine came out flat. Bread did taste good, but it didn’t have the beautiful presentation. When I compare this recipe to other boule, there is a lot more water in this recipe. Do you have the correct amount of liquid listed??
Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry to hear you had trouble with this recipe! I’ve made it (as well as my husband has made it) several times, and we’ve never had any issues, so I’d love to help trouble shoot with you. 2 to 1 ratio of flour:water is not that uncommon among breads. Did you add the 3 cups flour and 1 cup water and then the remaining cup of flour? What type of flour did you use? Did you make any other changes to the recipe? Hoping we can figure this out, I’m glad it tasted good at least!
Michaele lee says
I e made a recipe similar to this many many times but I bake it in a Pyrex bowl. Sometimes depending on weather or other unknown factors I have to add more flour. It needs to be wet but not so wet that you can’t separate it or If you can pour it, it’s way too wet. It needs to be the consistency of maybe dumplings for chicken and dumplings…..too sticky to knead but not liquidy like a batter or anything like that. Maybe sticky like a canned biscuit dough
The recipe lists 2 cups of water. I added the flour gradually as listed and mine was soupy and flat also.
Hi Nicole, thank you for your comment. I’m wondering how you measured the flour? Did you use all 4 cups and it was soupy? Or was it soupy after the three and you forgot to ads the fourth? Reason I’m asking how you measured it and pour it is because there is double the amount of flour to water, so if anything i would expect it to be dry, not wet! Also when is your yeast from? I found out last year that yeast goes bad (dead) pretty quickly, and also if it’s not stored properly it dies, totally didn’t know that!
I had the same issue. The ratio is too wet. I added another 1/2 cup after adding the fourth cup to the mix and struggled to split it into two. The second rise didn’t come up as much as I expected and it was relatively flat at the end of the bake. Yeast is fresh and I followed your instructions to the tee.
Hi Joe, I tried remaking this recipe as written and it came out as expected, so I’m not quite sure what is going wrong! I adapted this recipe only slightly from one found on Genius Kitchen (https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/french-peasant-bread-400438) and their instructions are the same.
I just used this recipe to bake my first-ever loaf of bread! I used wheat flour instead of white and it came out tasting good, but didn’t rise as much as in your photo. Also, the texture of your crust is amazing; mine came out smooth (not prefered). Any tips on how to get a taller loaf with that crust texture?
Thanks for the comment! The thing is, whole-wheat flour makes your baked goods denser and a lot heavier than those made with just all-purpose flour (like this bread was made with). Because it’s so heavy and dense, it has a completely different texture and rise than with all-purpose flour. I have only made this particular recipe with all-purpose flour. Here are some tips for working with whole wheat flour in bread:
• You can replace white flour with whole-wheat flour cup for cup. For every cup you exchange, add five teaspoons of water. Add additional flour only when needed while shaping.
• If you are making bread with 100 percent whole-wheat flour, add two teaspoons of vital wheat gluten per cup to create a stronger structure and higher rise. For each teaspoon of wheat gluten you use, add another one and a quarter teaspoons of water.
• If using 100 percent whole-wheat flour, allow the dough to rise in volume by just one and a half times, as opposed to the typical two times.
Hope that helps
Hi! I was wondering if you cover the dough with a towel when you let it rise the second time?
I either cover it with a towel or piece of plastic wrap 🙂
My husband said he also brushed the loaves of bread with a little butter right after taking them out of the oven-that step is optional 🙂