Saudade - Just what does it mean?
Freedom & Fer: L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.

Un coup de bol + ras le bol and recipe for "le pain en cocotte" (dutch oven bread)

Kristin and Jean-Marc Espinasse by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
photo by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

A SPECIAL WELCOME to students who have just signed on to this journal. It is an honor to have you with us! This blog began in the South of France in 2002 when our children were 5 and 7, and I worked at a  Swedish-owned winery while my husband sold Italian wine bottling machines. (I am American and he is French.) We left our jobs, focused on writing and wine and eventually bought a vineyard of our own. Currently, we are sharing a more personal story and you may follow along as we write it: The Lost Gardens goes behind the scenes of this lighthearted, cheerful (in the style of today's column, below) blog to the dark and hopeless moments that punctuated our private life. Feedback on our memoir:

"A raw, honest, and heart-wrenching telling of a trying period. So vividly told." -Janet
"Your combined story is powerful..." --Chris
"This book will be a great help to others, and a testament to the strengths you have each discovered in yourselves." -Ellen 

Anyone who has ever chased a dream while trying to hold on to their loved ones will be moved by our book's dual narrative: my husband writes about his ambitious pursuit of winemaking, and my chapters focus on our relationship as our vineyard rises.... and ultimately falls. But that is not the end of the story.... Purchase the memoir here and begin reading right away.  

Today's phrase: un coup de bol

    : a stroke of luck, a fluke, lucky break

Sound File: click here to listen to the French phrase below

Un coup de bol... à ne pas confondre avec le ras le bol (ce qui veut dire " fed up").
A stroke of luck... not to be confused with le ras le bol (which means "fed up").


by Kristi Espinasse

"Wonder Bread"

Quelle Trouvaille! I was hunting through the second-hand shop, with Mom, when I stumbled upon a dutch oven. Le Creuset no less. The torn white sticker read 5 euros. But it weighed a ton! Did I really want to buy this empty canon ball?

Oh, but it was canon! A real knock-out as go dutch ovens. Cherry red. A slate-black handle (so handsome you'd forgive it the first time it blistered your fingers). The retro typography L E  C R E U S E T. The creamy enamel interior. Tu vas regretter, a little voice said as I began walking away. And so I turned on connâit la suite....

I am typing this with burnt fingers which reminds me to include the following disclaimer: pay attention when baking today's wonder bread and porter des gants!

Now that you've been warned, and you promise to be mindful while making this fastoche bread recipe--don't hold back! This is every bit as good as a French baguette and simple comme make.


Two ways to make this easy, delicious bread. 1) Follow the simple video instructions at the end of this post or...

2) Suzanne Dunaway's recipe from her Instagram:

- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups water
-2 teaspoons salt
- 1 envelope dry yeast

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients and leave overnight (cover bowl with a dishcloth). The next morning, with the help of a rubber spatula or spoon, pour into a greased (or paper-lined) baking pan and bake at 230c (450 F) for 30 minutes.

Any old baking pan will work. Lately, I use a glass rectangular pan (no lid), lined with cooking paper.

*The "pouring" part is my own. I got tired of touching the sticky dough and wasting dough (and doughy countertops). I find that pouring or emptying the dough straight from the mixing bowl and into the pan works just fine!


le pain en cocotte = dutch oven bread
quelle trouvaille! = what a find!
canon = gorgeous
on connaît la suite = the rest is history
porter des gants = wear gloves
fastoche = easy
simple comme bonjour = easy as hello
The antique hachoir berceuse (rocking chopper) was another find at the second-hand store! You can find these new here

Even the underside is beautiful, reminiscent of the marbled French yogurt cake!

I've finally run out of farine, or flour, after making so many loaves :-) Latest obsession: to add Everything but the Bagel seasoning mix to the top. So good! I leave you with the video that simplifies the steps:

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Bonjour, Kristi! I am deaf. Would it be possible for you to post the recipe for your Dutch Oven bread here on your site? Merci beaucoup!

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Alyssa, bien sûr:

Combine the following 4 ingredients:

4 cups flour, 1.5 tsp salt, and one packet of instant yeast (diluted into 2 cups warm water).

Let rest in the bowl. Cover with kitchen towel.

Around 2 hours later, uncover the bowl and gently punch down the dough (to release the gases), and scrape the sides of the bowl down (see video). Cover for another 2 hours.

Then, turn out the dough onto a floured surface, and form it into a ball. Return to an oiled bowl to rest a final 45 minuts. (The oil adds to the crust when the dough is turned over into the final pan)

Preheat oven to 230 celcius and put the empty dutch oven into the oven to hear through for 45 minutes

Carefully remove dutch oven from oven and transfer the dough into it. Put the dutch oven back onto the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove lid and let bread cook to Golden (another 3-15 minutes.

Let cool 15 minutes or more.

Verify these instructions by viewing the video. Bon appetit!


Bread....good bread is my weakness, so I will try this. I like all those air holes in it...a sign of a great bread. merci!

Brenda Prowse

Oh thank you so much Kristi! I will look forward to baking this bread when my apartment is cold and gloomy this winter!

Mike Young

Lovely to see you kneading your dough. I learnt to make bread decades ago and one of my finds was books by Andrew Whitley - "Bread Matters" & "Do Sourdough". He describes sourdough as slow bread for busy lives. Andrew started a movement called The Real Bread Campaign in UK. Where I live, on the coast of South Africa, we are also blessed with a farm that grows wheat in the old way and mills it with stone wheels. You won't believe the difference.

Judy Feldman

I think this is similar to the New York Times no-knead recipe that my husband has been making for years. Delicious!

Suzanne Ridley

I’ve been wowing people with this bread for years. Two simple tricks:
Make the dough the day before with a little less yeast and a bit of a very simple beer - not too malty or hoppy but the cheap kind. I store the excess beer in a small jar in the fridge to use for the next batch as you don’t need the carbonation. Also - keep the dough just a bit on the wet side This develops great flavors.
Next day get to room temperature and dump the somewhat loose dough onto floured surface and scoop it up with a board scraper, or spatula, or wide putty knife into a ball, dust it liberally with flour or toppings (seeds), and lift it carefully onto a double layer of parchment paper. That makes it much safer and easier to lift up and put into the very hot Dutch oven. Let that dough do it’s thing while your pot heats up in the oven, or on the grill and then Just pop it in when both are ready. Three simple steps. I like to lightly oil the parchment before settling the bread on it as it helps to make a nicer crust on the bottom of the bread and it peels away nicely anyway once you take the bread out of the oven when it is done. P.s. and don’t knead the bread at all as it is too wet.

Julie Farrar

I'm not a huge bread maker, but I think even I could do this. The video is saved for later. Thanks a bunch.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Suzanne. Great tips! I see what you mean by the wet dough, so much so that by the end of my breadmaking streak, the dough I was making was running down my worktable like a river! I literally needed to get a grip... and return to the original recipe. But that is, as they say, the beauty of this recipe. It is very forgiving (more or less water, flour...) I now do the overnight version, and find this the most practical.

Sarah LaBelle

Alyssa, the video speaks no words. The only sound is a sort of electronic music as a background, shedding no information on the recipe. You see a couple of hands doing each step from above. Relevant words are shown on the screen as terse as possible, like the word HOT over the Dutch oven when it comes out of the oven empty.

Kristin's written version of the recipe is quite useful, however, and I am glad you asked for it


Thanks, Kristi! I can’t wait to try this bread!

😍 Georgia


Our dear Kristi,
This bread just sends me off on a cloud!!
Cannot wait to try!!
What a beautiful picture of you and Jean Marc!
And how gracious you are to welcome new students!!
One of the happiest parts of this recipe(besides the taste,of course!!)is
using a Le Creuset dutch oven.My beloved mom gave us hers when we got married 54 years ago,and each time I use it,I see her beautiful smile.
Thank you,dear Kristi for the gift of recalling such a happy memory.
Natalia. Xo

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Sarah. I especially liked the video for its brevity and it no-nonsence instructions.

Two parts were almost missed (by me) on viewing it the first time around: put the dutch oven in to preheat for 45 minutes...and also to take the lid off after 30 minutes of cooking.  

Kristin Espinasse

Julie, you will be hooked on this recipe. I promise! There is an overnight version which really simplifies things. 

Kristin Espinasse



The bread sounds delicious! And how great your home will smell! Just wondering, what size Dutch Oven do you use?


Natalia, I always love reading your comments. "Our dear Kristi" is so sweet and I feel that way, too. Best wishes from Virginia!


Kristi, This recipe is so tempting! Thanks.

Kristin Espinasse

Stacey, The oven I found is 22 cm (over 5 quarts?). It is slightly small, but it works very well! And that is so true what you say about the glorious scent of fresh baked bread!


This recipe looks amazing! Will it work with whole wheat dough, or a combination?


Oh, that bread looks gorgeous! I will try to play with gluten-free flour mixes (I have Coeliac Disease) to make this.

Jocelyn McKillop

Hi Kristi,
So happy to have this recipe, but not sure what size of cocotte you are using. Probably it's marked in litres on the bottom, or could you just give us the diameter at the rim?

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Jocelyn, My dutch oven is marked "22" (I believe that is centimeters, and corresponds to a 5.25 quart as you see here:

Joan Kind

I have been making this bread for several years. It is very similar to the procedure in Jim Lahey’s book “My Bread.” He has variations and other great recipes in his book.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Joan, for the book recommendation. This bread continues to amaze me, and I look forward to making it almost every other day.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
I just love European bread and can't wait to go to the Germany bakery when we visit my son and his family in December!
I will try the Dutch oven bread! It looks so easy and delicious!


Love the picture! You two look amazing and so happy! Looking forward to making this bread. It looks delicious! I have one question: is it 1.5 tsp of salt or 1.5 tbsp of salt? The video says tablespoon; the recipe says teaspoon. Thanks, Kristin.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you! And for the salt, it should be teaspoon.


Hi Kristin,
I baked four loaves a week when the kids were little but find that I don't have lots of time during the day these busy days to wait for the bread to rise. But, I would like to try the overnight version of the bread recipe that you kindly posted for your readers. If you have time, please could you post the overnight version? What a treat to have fresh baked bread in the morning, particularly if family or friends are visiting overnight.


Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Bette. I will gladly post it at the next chance. Meantime, here's a brief explanation:

Simply mix those 4 ingredients in a bowl, cover it (a tea towel or plate will work). The next morning, mix it once more and let it rise 1.5 to 2 hours (turn on the oven for the last 45 minutes of that period). Form a loaf (using extra flour, if it helps), or do like me and scrape the contents of the bowl right into the pan. Miraculously, a round loaf comes out (of the Dutch oven) every time. Note, if the Dutch oven is not hot, the loaf will stick...


I am not really a baker.i love to cook and I am creative in that department. I made this bread 2 weeks ago. It is simple and delicious. I wanted to make it again and went to the supermarket but they were out of flour. I finally found some in another town. I guess that everyone is baking since we have to stay-at-home.
I am going to make the bread today. It is so good. I am not really a bread eater, except for a good baguette, but I sure can over indulge in this. Yummy 😋
Thank you for posting.
Peace and stay healthy, Kathleen

Kristin Espinasse

Kathleen, I am so happy to see your note. Glad you are making this bread. I continue to mix the ingredients each night, then pour in a pan and bake each morning. Give our best to Dean and take good care. P.S. we look forward to breaking bread with you when you return to France.


I gave this recipe to my ten year old grandson alone with a pan to bake it in. It was a hit with everyone. He has provided bread several times now. Luckily here in North Carolina we can still find flour and yeast in the stores on the right days.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)