Friday, May 29, 2009

Weekend Bread: Pain à l'Ancienne

Pain à l'Ancienne is the Big Ticket Formula of The Bread Maker's Apprentice... Reinhart talks at length about his first encounter with it in France in the introduction, and claims that it will change bread baking FOREVER. Well, OK, maybe he's not quite that enthusiastic... but enthused he certainly is.

The primary concept of the bread is "delayed fermentation"... that is, instead of doing the primary fermentation at room temperature, he mixes the dough with ice water and, after the initial kneading, refrigerates it overnight. This doesn't kill the yeast... yeast does quite fine in the cold... though it does fine very, very, slowly. I've obviously never tasted it, but supposedly this slow motion fermentation brings out some very unique flavors. Seems worth a try, eh? As an aside, the dough for the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day "system" does delayed fermentation as well(they take a very wet dough, refrigerate it for days and days, take pieces off all the while as needed) so if I do indeed love Pain à l'ancienne, then I might need to experiment with their method a little bit.

Despite my recent attempts to make a ciabatta, I'm going to make this as my first recipe formula from BBA... I could use this dough and just fold and shape it like ciabatta, since it's pretty wet, but I think I'd like to learn to make ciabatta the traditional way and use the Pain à l'Ancienne dough for baguettes...  at least for now.

There are a quite a few examples of this formula on the intertubes if you are interested in making it yourself... try here and here.

I'll mix the dough tonight, and probably shape and bake on Saturday with Anna. The only thing to really figure out still is whether I want to make the quantities in the book(6 small baguettes) and freeze the excess... or whether to cut it down to a more manageable quantity using Teh Baker's Math.

photo by flickr user bro0ke used under a Creative Commons license