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What is Peasant Bread?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Peasant bread can refer to a variety of breads, most often European in origin, that make use of whole wheat flour, often rye flour and sometimes other coarsely ground grains to produce a very hearty bread. Such breads are known for their hearty crumb, a bit of stiffness and crustiness, and generally for their coarseness as compared to breads made with more refined flours. You’ll find numerous recipes online for these rustic breads, with many different suggestions on ingredients. Most are very simple, though, with yeast, flour, water and a little salt being the predominant ingredients, and many are shaped into round loaves.

One thing peasant bread tends to offer in its simplicity is healthfulness. When whole grain flours are used, the bread may contain more protein and offer more dietary fiber than other types of bread. Though such breads are thought the province of “peasants,” maybe due to their rougher crumb, they are enjoyed by many, and likely were enjoyed by many people, high and low in class structure, because of their good taste and satisfyingly filling qualities.

Other breads that might rightly be considered peasant bread include Irish soda bread, simple to make and flavorful, or many European local versions of rye bread. Pane Rustica is the name given to Italian versions of this bread, and may not contain rye flour. Like many other types of this bread, Pane Rustica is often shaped into rounds, and has a crusty exterior. Local regions in Europe may add extra ingredients like pumpernickel seeds, poppy seeds, graham flour, or sesame seeds. This makes it a little difficult to define any single bread as peasant bread.

Even in the US, you’ll see numerous bread types called peasant bread. Some have soft crusts, which would have been unusual in European types. Most should have a crusty exterior and be mainly composed of whole grain flours. Dark wheat and plenty of rye flour are common in American renderings, especially from artisan style bakeries.

Many agree peasant bread in any of its incarnations is extraordinarily good comfort food. It can be served in hunks or slices with hearty soups or stews, and is excellent for dipping into sauces. With the near limitless recipes available for various renderings of this simple bread, you’ll find plenty of ways to experiment to make your own bread. If you prefer a closer crumb and slightly lighter bread, you can substitute part white flour for coarser flours in many recipes.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon133945 — On Dec 13, 2010

Gtote Bakaries in Cincinnati, Ohio made a peasant bread that was awesome. Does anyone know how this was made? Thanks, Gary

By LittleMan — On Dec 02, 2010

Can anybody give me some good tips on making a good olive oil dipping oil for rosemary peasant bread?

I'm cooking my first dinner for my girlfriend on Saturday, and I want everything to be perfect, so can somebody with a little more expertise give me some good bread dip tips?


By FirstViolin — On Nov 29, 2010

If you're looking for a really good, simple peasant bread recipe, this one has been a favorite of mine for years. It's super easy, and you don't have to knead the dough, so it's great for beginners or time-crunched experts.

Here's what you do:

Take three cups of all purpose flour (or bread flour, doesn't really matter, as long as it's not self-raising), then mix it with a fourth of a teaspoon of yeast and one and a fourth teaspoons of salt.

Add one and 5/8 cups of water and stir it around until the dough becomes shaggy. You can fudge a little bit with the water, just keep it in the general 1 5/8 range.

Cover your dough loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for 12 to 18 hours. Then, when the dough is covered with little bubbles, lightly flour a surface, transfer your dough there, and then fold it over a few times on itself. Then let it rest for another 15 minutes.

After that, generously coat a cotton cloth (NOT a terrycloth!) with flour, pick up your dough and quickly shape it into a ball, and then transfer it to the cloth. Cover it with another floured cloth and let it rest for another 2 hours.

Thirty minutes before the two hours is up, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, with the pan you plan on baking the bread in in it. Then place your bread in it, and bake it, covered, for 30 minutes.

Then uncover it and bake it for another 15 to 30 minutes, or until browned. Voila, amazing peasant bread! Now all you have to do is stock up on your olive oil bread dip, and you're good to go.

By pleats — On Nov 26, 2010

Peasant bread is the paramount comfort food -- there's just no two ways about it. And the best thing is, it really goes with everything.

Soup is of course and excellent choice, but you can also get excellent results with peasant bread and dipping olive oil, especially if you use those lovely infused olive oils.

Another great thing about peasant bread as a dipping bread is that it doesn't get as soggy as other kinds tend to do.

I don't know if there's just something about the ingredients that is different, or something about the texture, but you really can't go wrong with peasant bread; it works equally as well for very thick and very thin dips.

This is also a really easy bread to make, even for first-time bakers, so if you are at all interested in making your own bread, you should definitely start with this one. There are a ton of recipes on the internet, so just find one you like and go nuts.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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