Peter Reinhart - Lean Bread




About: I do web programming for a living, but in my spare time, I'm an electronic hobbyist. I like to disassemble things just to see how they work. I love baking bread and the like. I like cooking all sort of food...

I've been baking bread for many years now. Homemade bread is just another joy of life you can't miss. The smell and taste of a fresh loaf of bread is just unbeatable.

In this instructable, I'll explain my way of doing Peter Reinhard - Lean Bread. It's a bit less "formal" and the result is quite good!

This recipe can be found in his book : Artisan breads every day .

Step 1: Ingredients

Bread is not a complex thing to make. You only need 3 or 4 ingredients.

For this particular recipe, you'll need :

- 5 1/3 cups (24oz / 680g) unbleached bread flour
- 2 teaspoons (0.5oz / 14g) salt, or 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons (0.22oz / 6g) instant yeast
- 2 1/4 cups (18oz / 510g) lukewarm water (about 95F or 35C)

Make 2 large loaves.

Step 2: Tools

You will need some simple cooking tools to make bread.

- Large bowl
- Large wooded spoon
- Kitchen scale (IMPORTANT)
- Proofing basket & linen cloth (or an oiled bowl, bread pan)
- Scraper/cutter (bowl scrapers are perfect!)
- Spatula (optional)
- Baking stone (optional, replace with an upside down cookie pan)
- Pizza peel (optional, replace with an upside cookie pan)

If you're lucky enough to have a stand mixer, use it. You don't need one, it just makes it easier. Don't be afraid, I've mixed by hand for many years and it works just as good as the mixer.

Step 3: Water

Using your kitchen scale, measure the water. Use lukewarm water! If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast, if it is too cold, it will make mixing and proofing take a lot longer.

Step 4: Yeast

Still using your scale, add the yeast to the water. Mix a little just to dissolve the yeast. Let rest for 5-10 min.

Step 5: Flour and Salt

Weight the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Mix them together using a spoon.

Step 6: Mixing

Slowly add the flour and salt mixture to the water and yeast.

If mixing by hand, use a large wooden spoon and add a little at a time.

If using a stand mixer, use the lower speed and add a little at a time.

I've used the paddle attachment, but you could go directly with the dough hook.

Step 7: Kneading

When the dough is mostly mixed togueter, let it rest for 5-10 min. After the rest period, start kneading

If mixing by hand, continue with your spoon. You can also use a bowl scraper.

If mixing with a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook.

Knead for 5-10 min until you're satisfied with the dough.

This is a pretty wet dough, you won't get a smooth non tacky ball.

Step 8: Strech and Fold

On a (very) oiled surface, drop the dough mass

Oil your scraper and hands.

Using the scraper, pick a "corner" of the dough and fold it on itself.

Repeat this until the dough holds a decent shape.

When it feels less tacky, you can pick it up and form a nice round ball.

Peter Reinhart wrote to wait 10 min and repeat the stretch and fold process at least 4 times. Cover the dough with plastic wrap when resting.

I normally don't wait that long, but it helps a lot if you want more a round/spherical loaf instead of a wider "flat" disc.

Step 9: Proofing

Proofing your bread is the most important part of bread making. Without proofing, you would end up with a hard mass of cooked dough.

You have 2 choice here :

- Place the dough in a oiled bowl and let it proof at room temperature for 90min.
- Shape the dough as desired
- Place in a proofing basket lined with linen.
- Cover with damp cloth or plastic warp.
- Proof overnight in the fridge.
- Remove from the fridge 1 hour prior to baking.

- Place the dough in a oiled bowl and let proof overnight in the fridge.
- 2 hour prior to baking, remove from the fridge and shape as desired.
- Place in a proofing basket lined with linen.
- Cover with damp cloth or plastic warp.
- 1 hour prior to baking, remove the covering and let proof.

I've chosen method #1. I find it create a nicer crust and eliminate an enormous bowl in my fridge.

Step 10: Shaping

Shaping is the art of making the dough into its final shape. You can be creative; boule, batard, torpedo or loaf!

- Remove the dough from the proofing bowl.
- Separate in two equal part
- Oil your hand and shape the best you can.
- Place in a lined & floured proofing basket (or bowl...)

I've done a batard and a boule. You want to have plenty of flour on the linen cloth, otherwise, the dough will stick to it when it's time to cook.

While waiting for the final proofing, preheat your over to 500F or the maximum you feel comfortable with.

Step 11: Baking

This is a crucial part of making nice bread!

- Flour a pizza peel (or cookie pan).
- Flip your shaped dough onto the peel.
- Scores the dough using a sharp wet knife (Be creative!).
- Open oven door.
- Peter Reinhart says to mist the oven with some water to help steaming (helps the crust).
- Slide the dough on your hot baking stone (or cookie pan) using a quick wrist motion.
- Bake for 12 minutes.
- Rotate and bake for another 10-15 min until you have a golden brown crust.

As of me, for the sake of this instructable, I did a pretty bad job at scoring my boule. Try to score about 1/2 deep at a slight angle.

I've tried many time to mist or no to mist, do whatever fit you!

Step 12: Final Product

You're almost done!

- Remove the bread from the oven
- Cool on a cooling rack at least 1h before cutting.
- Eat!!!

Step 13: Get Creative!

Don't stop here! Explore the wonderful world of bread baking.

Try other flour type; wheat, rye, barley!
Try adding dried fruit (raisin, cranberry) or nuts into your dough!
Try some sweet bread (Brioche, croissant)!

The possibility are endless!

I hope you enjoyed reading me as much as I enjoy baking fresh bread every weeks.

Finalist in the
Bread Contest



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    31 Discussions


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, thanks for your comment.

    I'll have to admit, I don't really know why. My guess, this bread doesnt have any sugar or fat.

    Sugar help a lot for rising and flavor and fat act like a preservative for the bread. This bread is still super flavorful and can probably be good 5-6 days.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    You should not put sugar in Artisan type bread; Artisan is a fancy term for old world bread--like the Russians make. Real, true, old style world bread should NEVER have any sweetener in it.
    I grew up in America, and American sliced and packaged bread has loads of sugar, just as a lot of other products have, such as meat. I was married for several years to a Russian immigrant who taught me the value of good old world bread and unsugared meat.
    Do yourself a favour and cut out all the sweeteners in your food, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better things taste, as sugar masks the natural flavours found in several foods. Save sweeteners for desserts.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Breads really fall into two different categories, lean breads and rich breads. Lean breads are made with out any fats, just as this bread was made. No oil, butter, shortening, lard, i.e. was added. Rich breads, like a brioche or a focaccia have fats added,butter and oil respectively.

    Yes, this is absolutely right. Those rich breads are often called "enriched" breads, and they have 20% fat or more. These would usually fall into the category of Viennoiserie, for instance, brioche, panettone, stollen and sweet rolls. Also, pain au lait, to give an example of something incredibly rich but not as sweet.

    I don't think that focaccia falls into this category, though. It has some olive oil in it, but definitely never more than 15%.


    8 years ago on Step 12

    One last bit of grammar: watch the difference between your (possessive) and you're (a contraction of you are). You meant you're in this instance. Don't feel bad, many native English speakers get this one wrong constantly.

    Overall, VERY well written and clear instructible! I'm off to make some bread, thank you!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful bread! Your recipe and instructions are perfect (and what else matters?) - even if English is not your Mother Tongue! ;) I've been baking bread (a la Richard Bertinet) but have been slowing down in the last several months. Your instructions, up-beat tone and fantastic photos are sending me back to my oven now! Thanks for that. :) Lisa


    5 years ago on Introduction

    My mom was an excellent baker. Before her and my dad retired, there was always a cake or pie or cobbler in the house. After retirement, there were choices! She was a depression era child, and also a WW2 "Rosie the Riveter", working in a munitions plant with other women while my dad was away at Normandy and beyond.
    So that meant learning to bake with lard, as oils went to the war effort. As far as I am concerned, it made for some of the best baked goods I have ever eaten, to this day.
    I am less practical though, so I use normal oils for cooking.
    I started baking only recently, and I started with the Artisan bread, as I knew it would be hard to ruin it! The recipe I followed called for 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher course salt, which I didn't have, so I used regular--ruined the first batch! Also it called for 61/2 cups flour and only 3 cups of water. I have since adjusted it to only 1 teaspoon of regular salt, 3/34 cups water and it works fine. I only have a big cast iron dutch oven to put the dough in for mixing and rising, and it works pretty good. I am planning to buy some bread pans and see how that goes. I am investing slowly, but I think I will be baking bread until I die! Thanks for putting this recipe out there.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is the best instructable ever !!
    Hope it will win the bread contest !!


    8 years ago on Step 9

    Thank you for this recipe, in baked, it's very good, but i sometimes confuse,i think your good recipe has no synchronized between text and photos,thank you.


    8 years ago on Step 9

    If proofing in the refrigerator it will take a lot longer. Bagel bakeries call their walk-in boxes [refrigerator] Retarders as it retards the proofing process. Commercial Italian bakeries proof at room temperature and in long wooden trays that are covered with more wooden trays [4 high]. Trays are approximately 6'. Everything else is fine, I only have a comment on the proofing process.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 9

    You can make that bread in 3-4h if you like.

    Cold proofing is used here to enhance flavor. You can proof it for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. The bread will can lots of flavor after 4 days fermentation.


    I've always wondered about what the salt does in a bread dough? Is this essential or is this only for taste? More people these days are concerned about reducing salt in their diet. Less or no salt might be an improvement for these people...

    4 replies

    Salt is needed to break down the gluten and make the bread more doughy and less stodgy. It makes the gluten strands stretchy so that the dough stretches as it rises, lessening the chances of big air bubbles in the bread.

    The amount of salt in a home baked loaf of bread is negligible in terms of health and cutting down.

    See Heston Blumenthal's Kitchen Chemistry: Salt for a better explanation of why salt is important!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Salt actually helps develop and strengthen gluten, resulting in a tougher dough. You will find that sugars will weaken the gluten.

    Whenever I make bread at home I like to make a pre-ferment dough and rest it overnioght, then use thios in a larger amount instead of adding yeast. It results in much nicer carachteristics and a very nice flavour that will make it a tasty treat by itself or a great accompanyment to many meals.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Adjusting salt and sugar is a balancing act. On one hand salt will make the dough stretchy and chewy, on the other too much salt kills yeast. Sugar will feed the yeast and make your dough nice and airy, but will weaken the gluten strands creating a weak dough.

    In addition, salt also controls the rate which yeast eats the sugars (both added sugars, as well as the sugar from flour starches). In other words, it slows and normalizes fermentation activity.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for reading my instructable!

    Let me know if you see any error in the text as English isn't my maiden language.