On Feb 12, 2021 I decided to post my grandma’s three-ingredient, no knead peasant bread. I hit the publish button on TikTok not realizing I would wake up to 15 million+ views. I couldn’t believe that a bread as simple as this would become a trend and so many of you on the internet would start sharing it. It is so meaningful to me that so many of you are carrying on my grandma’s legacy by making this very humble, yet delicious and gratifying bread.
This bread is called “selski hliab” in my language (Bulgarian), which translates to “village or peasant bread.” My grandma was one out of ten children and she worked tirelessly to provide for her siblings. When you come from a poor country, or don’t have as much, you learn to rely on a few basic ingredients, such as flour, salt, water, and yeast. If you had these few staples, your bellies were full and happy and you were able to feed many people on a very modest income. Bulgaria was also under communism from 1946 to 1989, so many ingredients weren’t as available to us, which helped simple recipes like this one rise in popularity and necessity. A fresh loaf of baked bread is something that will forever be cherished in my family.
My grandma was my best friend for 32 years of my life and someone who filled my heart with more love than anyone on this planet. Although I lost my best friend on Nov 13, 2020, she has made a forever imprint in my heart.
This overnight peasant bread has been shared between my grandma and I with so much laughter and tears and enjoying it together makes up some of the best memories of my life.
Although there are many peasant bread variations, I hope this one brings you as much joy as it has to me.
My Grandma’s No Knead Peasant Bread
- 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the counter and top of the bread (413 grams)
- 1 teaspoon salt (5 grams)
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast (*check the expiration; see notes below) (3 grams)
- 1 ¾ cups warm water, between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit (37 to 43 degrees Celsius) (400 ml)
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast and mix with a whisk, wooden spoon, or clean hands. Add the water and mix with a spatula until you have a sticky dough. Note: The water must be between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit (37 to 43 degrees Celsius). If the water is too hot or too cold the yeast will not activate.
- Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature for at least 5 hours or up to overnight. Place the bowl of dough somewhere away from drafts, such as in the microwave, in a cupboard, or in a cold oven.
- After the dough has tripled in size, uncover it, and flour the counter. Pour the dough out onto the counter and generously sprinkle the top with flour as well.
- You do not need to KNEAD the dough. You can simply move it around until you have a really nice and soft dough that is no longer sticky and is oval in shape. If the loaf sticks to your hands or the counter, sprinkle on a little more flour.
- Place the loaf into any oven-safe dish (such as a Dutch oven or a cast-iron skillet with a lid) lined with parchment paper. Place a lid on the dish, and place the dish in a cold oven (in other words, an oven which is NOT preheated).
- Turn the oven on to 450F (230C) once the bread is inside. Bake the bread with the lid on the dish for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carefully remove the hot lid from the dish and bake the bread for another 25 to 30 minutes. The bake time will depend on your oven, so keep an eye on it. Total bake time will be about 1 hour from the moment you place the bread in the cold oven.
- The bread is done once it’s light and golden all over. Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes and dig in! Enjoy.
- To store leftover bread, let the bread cool completely, wrap it up in plastic wrap, beeswax wrap, or a clean kitchen towel, and store the bread on the counter. This bread is always best served warm the same day.