Among the breads in Peter Reinhart’s book, I put this one in my “top-five-list”! Having lived in Paris for several years, I always crave the amazing baguettes that we found in every corner of the city…
The recipe for “Pain a l’ancienne” is deceptively simple: flour, water, salt and yeast, followed by a brief kneading, and then into the fridge for several hours. But, if making the dough is easy and simple, shaping the bread is another story! This is a high hydration dough, that must be gently handled. It takes an expert baker to balance the gentleness and assertiveness needed to coax such a soft dough into the correct baguette shape. Maybe you can get an idea of how tricky it is from the photos…
This is the dough after spending the night in the fridge. Next morning it will slowly “wake up” at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours (mine took about 3 hours and 15 minutes to double in size).
Once it doubles, gently “pour” it out of the bowl, open it in a rectangle, and cut the dough in three “bread-like” pieces (the full recipe makes 6 baguettes, I made a half-recipe). Then they will be slightly stretched and placed in a very hot oven.
I need more practice with shaping baguettes, and not to mention the “slashing”. I didn’t slash two of them, and only practiced my skills with the blade on the third. Indeed, need more practice is a kind way to put it
My baguettes had a “boat shape”, both ends rising up, which, according to Susan, from Wild Yeast, it means the oven was too hot. Note to self: bake at 475F instead of 490F next time!
But, even if they weren’t the best looking baguettes, the crumb and the crust were just the way we like them; they were delicious!
With this bread, we arrive at the midpoint of the “Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge“! Lots of great breads ahead, but I am starting to feel a bit nostalgic. It’s a lot of fun to “bake a book” like this, with so many other bakers doing the same. I’ll be a little sad when it’s over, but, for the time being, check out some other bakers’ pain a l’ancienne
Carolyn of Two Skinny Jenkins
Joelen, of “What’s Cookin’, Chicago?“
Oggi, of “I Can Do That“
Mags, from “The Other Side of Fifty“
Paul, from “Yumarama’s Artisan Bread“
Txfarmer from her gorgeous Chinese blog…