Pain à l’Ancienne

Pain à l'Ancienne

We end up eating a lot of bread in our household.  And I make quite a bit of it myself.  In fact, one of the easiest ways for me to pleasantly surprise Angela is to start making bread before she gets home.  I’ve even developed a “quick” recipe for bread that I make regularly and is the metric for any bread we eat, whether I make it or it’s produced elsewhere.

This is not that bread.  The bread that I make, while quite good, does not involve any special technique.  I decided that I’d like to really take my bread making up a notch and improve both my knowledge of bread making as well as my technique.

Pain à l'Ancienne

This is my first attempt at a more advanced bread.  Actually, it’s my second attempt at this bread.  The first attempt was good but I improperly shaped it so it ended up too short.  I made this using the baker’s percentages (the recipe as written makes something like 6 baguettes which is 5 more baguettes than I would eat) which made it quite easy for me to use metric measurements.  The only hard part was measuring out 2 g of yeast.

The bread turned out quite well.  Given it’s overnight fermentation, it developed a very nice flavor.  The wetness of the dough led to a very light, airy dough; much more so than the dense bread that I normally make.

I will definitely be making this bread again whenever I have the time.  It went very well with an herb brined roast chicken and a bottle of 2007 Mandolina Rosato.

Pain à l'Ancienne

Pain à l’Ancienne
Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread

300 g bread flour
6 g kosher salt
2 g yeast
240 g water, ice cold

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, salt, yeast, and water.  Beat with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes on low.  Switch to the dough hook and beat for 5 minutes on medium.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise at room temperature until it has doubled, 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Using a plastic dough scraper, transfer the dough to a well floured counter.  Shape into a bâtard.  Carefully transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and cover until ready to bake.
  4. In the oven, place a pizza stone on the top rack and a cast iron dutch oven on the bottom rack.  Preheat the oven to 500ºF.  Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  5. When the oven is preheated, place the baking sheet on the pizza stone and carefully pour the boiling water into the dutch oven.
  6. Immediately reduce the temperature to 475ºF and bake for 8 to 9 minutes.  Turn the bread if it is not browning evenly.  Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the bread is a rich golden brown.
  7. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 1 bâtard.

Roast Chicken

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6 Responses to “Pain à l’Ancienne”


  1. 1 Allie February 9, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I love the Peter Reinhart recipes too, but you’re right – they make so many loaves of bread! How I’ve been dealing w/ this lately is this (hopefully it will work for you too!):

    After the first rise, before shaping, I portion out 8 ounce loaves (usually; sometimes larger). I shape the loaf I want to bake and set it out for second rise. The remaining loaves I put inside a freezer bag that’s been sprayed w/ non-stick spray. Then I freeze them. To bake, take it out of the freezer and put in the fridge the night before you want to use it. Set it in a bowl on the counter (out of the freezer bag) to let it come up to room temperature the next day (this takes a couple hours), then shape, do second rise and bake.

    I’ve found this method works with all of his recipes I’ve tried it w/. Alternately, you can store dough for 4-5 days in the fridge, just shaping and baking what you need each day.

    And if you already know all this stuff, just ignore me! It just works better w/ my student schedule to have dough ready in the freezer for when I want bread.

  2. 2 Allie February 9, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Er, excuse me. I put each loaf in a separate bag. Not all in one bag. I just realised I typed that out funny.

    • 3 Matt February 9, 2009 at 7:14 pm

      I’ve actually done similar things with bread in the past. It’s actually somewhat easier for me just to use the baker’s percentages. Somewhere around a 500 g loaf is about the right size for the two of us. It also incidentally happens to be the normal size of a french batard.

  3. 4 foodhoe March 31, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    wow, that bread looks amazing and you make it all sound so easy…

  4. 5 richard April 8, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Thanks for the tip about bagging part of the dough. I had to toss one of my baguettes right before lunch a few days ago. (That’s just bad timing.)

    foodhoe – I’m no baker, and it really is that easy.

  5. 6 Allie April 8, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    No problem at all. Reinhart recipes always make fantastially large amounts of dough, but I’ve yet to try one of his recipes that didn’t perform perfectly when the dough was frozen after the first rise. The best part of it is that I just make a full batch of dough once, and I have loads of dough to bake as I need it. It lasts for a while in the freezer. Minimum of 3 months. Serious time saver.


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