The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reinhart's 5 hour loaves

adarpino's picture

Reinhart's 5 hour loaves

Bread Baker's Apprentice cites formulas for French Bread and Ciabatta (start ti finish in 5 hours) with large percentages of pre ferment (160) to produce loaves with the qualities of much longer fermented doughs.  Anyone have opinions for or against this? Is it just to simplify the process for home bakers?

JoeV's picture

My first question for you is "are you a professional baker?" Most professional bakers make bread as quickly as humanly possible, because there is no profit in long lead time bread. I have bought bread that looks delicious (we taste first with our eyes), only to be miserably disappointed when I bite into it. Surprisingly these loaves were from "old world" style bakeries, but somehow they have learned the new world secret to producing bread that tastes like flour. Yuk!

I believe Peter's whole book is based on exposing the home baker to the world of true artisan breads that are made more for the love and respect of the ingredients and the process, than for the profit to be gained through sale of the bread. I own this book and have learned a lot from it.I have made quite a few of his recipes, and have even been disappointed with a few. Way too much effort for the subtle difference in flavor.

The best bread in the whole world is the bread that you make yourself. If it takes 5 hours or 5 days, what matters is that you are making something good and wholesome for you and those you share it with.

Focus on what pleases you and your pallette, and not only on how long it takes to produce. Keep in mind that not everyone has the time it takes to make some of Peter's recipes, so they are restricted to different recipes which can be made with less time.

I always keep a slack dough in the fridge for up to two weeks at a time, and make pizza, rolls and whole artisan loaves from it. This is another option to the busy person, and comes from the book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day."

So, my opinion on your question is that each baker should bake the recipes that best fit into their lifestyle, their tastes and their time constraints. I believe Peter would also agree with this. I don't believe his 5 hour recipes are for slackers, but rather for those who want to provide good bread for their families and friends without the added preservatives of store bought bread.

arzajac's picture

Well how long is it supposed to take?  Using a preferment, whether a poolish, biga or levain, is the traditional way to make bread most of the time. To simplify the process, you would have to eliminate the preferment and that usually makes for tasteless bread.

Poilaine's 100 per cent levain loaves take six hours to make.  You can make excellent baguettes in three hours by using a poolish.  The time it takes for the final steps is less important than the fact that you are using a preferment.

A more recent trend in artisan bread baking is to preferment the whole dough, but that's not how most frech bakers have been doing it for the past hundred years (and therefore not the by-the-book way...  But that will eventually change, I figure...)