Peasant Bread Recipe

This is the recipe for my Teton County 2010 Fair Prize Winning Bread

3 cups bread flour
2 tsp fine salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1 ½ cups water at room temperature

Coarse wheat bran
A heavy casserole and a coarse dish towel

Using your fingers or a spoon, thoroughly combine the first three ingredients in a 2 quart bowl.  Pour in the water.  Work dry ingredients and water together for about 30 seconds or until a rough wet dough has formed and all the flour is absorbed.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at warm room temperature for about 18 hours (anywhere between 13-18 hours gets good results.)

On a floured surface, pull the dough out of the bowl.  It will resemble a wet amoeba-like blob.  Dust it with flour and spread into a 10” by 10” square.  Fold the square into thirds, forming a puffy strip about 4 inches wide and 10 inches long.  Cover and rest for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile spread the towel on a flat surface.  Rub with generous amount of flour on half the towel, and then sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of bran over the flour to prevent dough from sticking to the towel.Fold the dough into thirds again.  The resulting package of dough should be nearly the shape of a cube.  Gently stretch the top layer part way down over the seams visible on the two sides of the dough.  Gently lift the dough onto the towel, sprinkle the top of the loaf with a little flour and bran.  Cover with the other half of the towel and let rise for 2 more hours.
At the end of the first hour, put the casserole (I use a 5 quart ceramic coated cast iron pot.) with its lid into the oven on a lower rack and turn the oven on set to 500 degrees.  I also use one of those silicon pot handle mats that is good to 600 degrees, under the pot, to prevent the bottom of the loaf from burning.  I put it into the oven from the beginning with the pot.  When another hour has passed, open the oven, take the lid off the casserole.  Roll the loaf off of the towel into the casserole dish.  Shake the pan sideways if the loaf needs to be neatened in the pot.  Cover the casserole and bake the loaf for 30 minutes.  Uncover the pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the loaf is brown.  Remove the loaf and let it cool on a rack until it is barely warm.

If you get 10 or more slices out of a loaf of this bread, a slice will average 120 calories each.