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james 03-20-2006 06:09 PM

Pain a l'ancienne
4 Attachment(s)
This is a new recipe for a dough that works and pizza dough, focaccia and baguettes. It's right out of the Breadbaker's Apprentice, but armed with a digital scale, I was ready to tackle it.

It is a very hydrated dough mixed with ice water, then put straight into the refrigertor. You bring the dough out the next day to proof. The theory, as Reinhard explains, is that the cold stops the yeast from getting started until after enzymes get a head start in breaking down starch into sugar. As a result, there is more sugar for the yeast to work with, and some of the sugar stays in the dough for flavor, texture and for the crust.

It worked really well for me the first time, which is a good sign. My baguettes were nicely brown and crusty (just using a pizza stone). This will be great in a brick oven. It isn't that much harder than the basic ciabatta, and it really is good.

Here is the basic recipe:

500 gram flour
400 grams ice water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast

That's right. 80% hydrated.

When the dough has doubled the next day (it takes a long time to warm up and proof), pour/scrape the ball into a floured surface, gently pull to a 6"x8" oblong, then cut into three strips that become the baguettes. Let them rest a short period (5-10 minutes), slash and bake.

Between my digital scale and this recipe, I'm in new territory. Eccellente.

As an aside, I did the recipe twice. Once with Caputo 00 and once with Giustos bread. The Giustos was much better at making a dough and acting like bread. I made the baguettes from that, and made a focaccia from the more delicate Caputo dough.

vitoduke 03-20-2006 06:20 PM

James-I'm going to be doing pizza on Wednesday, and would like to try to do some bread. I don't know if I can get Guistos Flour by then, what would you recommend instead. What temp. should I let the oven come down to?THANKS---Mel

james 03-20-2006 08:30 PM


I think bread will work well with your King Arthur bread flour. Maybe you could make some ciabattas -- alla what Robert made. They made a great hearth bread the first time, and good photos. I am always struck by how much nicer bread comes out of a brick oven, compared with a pizza stone -- no matter how much you try.

A nice soft dough, well hydrated, and do the three-fold technique before baking. You don't slash the loaf. If you can get the Giustos delivered in time, I think you'll be really happy with it. They ship from NorCal, so you might make it.

After you have cooked your pizzas at 750F, let the oven fall to about 500-550F. Let us know how long that takes in your oven. The oven should be at about 4+ mississippis.

Your bread will bake a little faster than it would in a conventional oven at the higher temperature. If you have a lot of dough, try two batches -- one hotter, the next cooler, to see how they are different.

Have fun.

james 03-26-2006 12:11 PM

It worked again
We made pain a l'ancienne baguettes for dinner guests last night in the brick oven. Wow. Everyone was talking about the bread. After years of trying, this is the best I have ever done. The crust gets to a dark rich brown, without a hint of burning. Much darker than I've made.

I'm not sure what is better. The bread, or how easy it is to do once you get it right. What I am finding is that with 40% hydration, and good bread flour, the dough ball forms in the top of the mixer, and still sticks to the bottom. That seems to consistently work. I have not folded the dough, and cut four baguettes from a 500g (roughly 4 cup) recipe. You just mix the dough with ice water for 5-7 mintues and stick the mixing bowl in the refrigerator, then off to bed.

Other than forgetting to slash the dough, it looked good.

I'm doing it again tonight -- the fire is going right now, and I will take pictures.

Marcel 03-27-2006 07:30 AM

Hydration, 40% or 80% ??

Originally Posted by james
We made pain a l'ancienne baguettes for dinner guests last night in the brick oven.<snip>

<snip>What I am finding is that with 40% hydration, and good bread flour, <snip> I have not folded the dough, and cut four baguettes from a 500g (roughly 4 cup) recipe. <snip>

(M) Hi, James,

If this is the same dough that you previously made, then is that a Typo of one of the %? Here follows your other quote:

(J) " Here is the basic recipe:

500 gram flour
400 grams ice water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast

That's right. 80% hydrated."

Thanks for the calrification.


Robert Musa 03-27-2006 08:45 AM

wow !!! we made bread this weekend following your recipe and it was incredibly good. the flavor was just awesome. its no more work than ciabatta because even with ciabatta you have to make the biga the night before. problem is i now want to bake several loaves each and every night.

we made three loaves. one got pushed too far back into the oven and the bottom burnt (see picture below). we cut off the "carbonized" bottom and ate the whole loaf before dinner. i gave one loaf to our next door neighbor. we ate the remaining loaf during dinner. i would have gone next door at that point to reclaim the third loaf but that would have been bad form. lesson learned: double batches from now on.

technical details: used king arthur a.p. flour and added 3 tablespoons of gluten additive. oven floor was about 550 near the front and 700 at the back.

james 03-27-2006 10:19 AM

4 Attachment(s)
Well shoot. I burned the bottom of the loaves. I fired the oven longer in order to bake multiple things, and the deck was out of sync with the dome. Have to work on that.

So we too scraped off the carbonized bottom, and it was still good.

Marcel, I am using good quality bread flour (Giustos in this case), not the Tipo 00 which I think it too soft and a little light for hearth bread. I'm still using it for Focaccia though.

Here are the photos.

vitoduke 03-27-2006 03:10 PM

First bread
3 Attachment(s)
Hi James---After we made the pizza we used your recipe for bread with 80% hydration. The bread turned out very good and it was a simple recipe. The oven was about 525 degrees. The bread had a really nice crispy crust.---Mel

james 03-27-2006 04:30 PM


Is your bread better than anything you can buy in the store? :) Once you get started with good bread there is no turning back.


btw -- do you think it is ever going to stop raining?

Robert Musa 03-27-2006 04:38 PM

the only thing which will make it stop raining is if i build a better cover over my oven's landing. after i do that it will never EVER rain again. ;)

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