Pain à l'ancienne is not actually a type of bread, but rather a technique for making bread. The technique uses delayed-fermentation. Delayed-fermentation means that you make the dough then delay the fermentation by retarding the action of the yeast by chilling the dough. Ice water is used to mix the dough and then the fridge is used to hold the dough overnight. It is an easy method producing a deliciously different tasting result.
I think that you could use the pain à l'ancienne method with any bread recipe, but I have not yet tested this theory.
The recipe I used is from the book The Bread Baker's Apprentice
I made three pain à l'ancienne baguettes like this :
Make a dough from 3 cups of stone-ground unbleached flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of dried yeast, and just over 1 cup of ice cold water. Add more water as you go if required to make a very soft almost sticky dough. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight, or the equivalent.
Take the bowl out of the fridge and leave at room temperature until it has doubled in size from the size it was when it went into the fridge.
Gently transfer the dough to a generously floured bench, trying not to deflate the dough. Carefully shape the dough into a rectangle. Flour your hands and the bench as necessary. Cut the dough lengthwise into three, being careful not to degas the dough. Leave the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
Heat the oven to as hot as possible (250°c), putting a baking stone in if possible and a metal container for steam.
Put the dough on baking paper or a Teflon sheet and shape the pieces of dough into baguettes by gently stretching them the length of the baking sheet or stone. Slash each baguette with an extremely sharp knife or razor blade. Put in the oven, adding water to the steam receptacle. Turn the oven down to 225°c and bake for 10 minutes or until the loaves look good and sound hollow when rapped on their bottoms.
Leave to rest for at least 20 minutes. This part is the hardest but it is very important because this is considered the final stage of the baking. The structure is still changing, the flavour is still developing.
Slice or break and enjoy the different, more nutty flavour of the bread produced by the pain à l'ancienne method. It is wonderful with some freshly made butter.
Tuesday, 10 January 2006
pain à l'ancienne