The Fresh Loaf

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Newbie pain a l'ancienne questions

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nsimon's picture

Newbie pain a l'ancienne questions

  Just getting into BBA, and I can see that the pain a'lancienne technique has immense potential.  I do have a few questions, which I'm hoping y'all seasoned veterans can help me with.

1.  Does it matter if AP flour, bread flour, or a combo are used?  How does it change the results?

2.  How long can the dough stay in the fridge and still give good results (I'm wondering if 24, 48, or even 72 hours is OK)?

3.  Any need or advantage to letting the baguettes proof on the pan before going in the oven?  Reinhart seems to leave proofing of the formed loaves out, but can it help?

4.  Reinhart call for "19 to 24 ounces" of water.  This is a tremendous range of hydration percentages, from 70 to 89 percent!  What is the optimal hydration for this dough?

5.  My experience with Bittman/Lahey's bread shows that a wet dough with a long autolyse (and l'ancienne definitely is one) needs very little "kneading", just a good preliminary mixing.  Does the pain a l'ancienne really need the kneading in the mixer?

  Thanks you all in advance for your help!

LindyD's picture

It's an easy formula to follow and one of the favorites in my house.

1.  The recipe calls for bread flour which is higher in protein than AP.  I've never used AP for ancienne, but Mr. Reinhart states at page 30 that in most instances AP can be substituted.

2.  The recipe calls for an overnight fermentation - which would be 12 to 16 hours.  I think 48 hours or longer will wind up like the artisan-in-five dough, which in my case produced flattish breads. 

3.  Beware of overproofing. Keep in mind it is going to take the dough anywhere from two to three hours to double once it is removed from the overnight retardation.  The only change I've made from the instructions is that I cut the first three strips and bake them before cutting the last three.  

4.  The optimal hydration is when the dough sticks to the bottom of the bowl and pulls away from the side.  The humidity in your kitchen, temperature, and type of flour are all factors.  In the summer I can use less water.  In the winter, I generally use 22 to 24 ounces.  

5.  An autolyse is when flour and water are mixed and allowed to rest for 20 minutes to an hour.  Salt and yeast are incorporated after the autolyse.  

The formula for Ancienne requires all ingredients to be mixed at the same time, then immediately refrigerated.  This is not an autolyse, but rather an overnight fermentation or retardation of the dough.   Also, the technique is quite different from Lahey's NK.

I personally think it is important to bake a new bread recipe following the baker's instructions so I know what it is intended to taste like and handle.  That gives me a basis for comparison when I start tweaking the receipe.

Enjoy the BBA.  It's a great introduction to baking.






newgirlbaker's picture

and it was fantastic, according to my family, they would like it made at least once a week.  I followed the instructions to the letter, and it was very easy.  Have fun!