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

10 thoughts on “BBA#21: PAIN A L’ANCIENNE

  1. Not bad, Sally. I saw only one baker who had a better result than yours. And I honestly don’t think this bread needs to be slashed at all!


  2. Thanks, Jean and Oggi

    My beloved asked me to make it again soon – poor thing, with this BBA Challenge, he knows that every bread is just a chapter, and another one WILL follow… 🙂


  3. Great giant holes – good for you! The shape just isn’t that important when they taste that good. Haven’t posted mine yet, but they were a bit flat. Need much more practice with wet dough, I guess!


  4. These look great! You have to understand that these particular baguettes are supposed to loosely look like baguettes. The technique is pull apart, and they will definitely look rustic, so no actual baguette-shaping skills are needed.


  5. Pingback: Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge: Pain à l’Ancienne — Pinch My Salt

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