The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Delayed Fermentation Method - Pain a l'Ancienne

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Delayed Fermentation Method - Pain a l'Ancienne

I went to my favourite neighbourhood coffee shop a few days ago to enjoy a cup of flat white.  The lady owner there has a bit of an alternative flair about her and I enjoy the free air that she exudes to her place.  She really knows her stuff because the sourdough she serves for snacks is one of the best in town.  She told me her supplier is "Leavain Bakery" in Brisbane.   I thought I might go and visit Leavain Bakery sometime so I Googled it when I got home.  Wow - I had no idea!  Leavain Bakery supplies to some of the best restaurants in Brisbane!  I though, Shiao-Ping, well done!  I am so privileged to have the same sourdough in this little café as those that would be enjoyed by patrons to some of the best restaurants in town.  One of the restaurants is Philip Johnson's E'cco Bistro.   The New Zealand chef in Brisbane, Philip Johnson, has some of the best dessert recipes I've ever seen, something to die for. 

As I was reading up on Leavain Bakery on the net, it was brought to my attention that John Downes, the man behind the Australian sourdough movement in the late 70's has a cook book out.  As I was buying the book on the Australian Sourdough Companion website, an user, Johnny's beautiful crumb shot caught my attention.  His Ciabatta Integrale (a wholemeal ciabatta with multi-grains) involves a procedure which is most unusual to me.  I would like to summarize it below, if I may:

  1. The night of Day 1:  refresh the starter (in 2 feedings over 24 hours)
  2. The night of Day 2:  combine all ingredients (except salt) and autolyse 20 minutes, then add salt, mix by hand for 1 or 2 minutes, then straight into the refrigerator overnight
  3. The morning of Day 3: take dough out and fold once, return to the refrigerator
  4. The night of Day 3:  take the dough out again and over the next 4 - 5 hours stretch & fold the dough once every hour; shape and place the dough in a banneton, proof for one hour, then into the refrigerator again overnight
  5. The morning of Day 4: Bake!

I find Johnny's procedure very "elegant"- the least effort that allows you to arrive at the best possible result.  The essence seems to be in his minimalist approach and its beauty is that it is great for a person who has a busy work life.  I have since found that SourDom, another experienced baker of Sourdough Companion, talked about this flexible schedule at length in his Sourdough Timetables article.  But (and this is a big BUT), I did not understand what made this timetable work for sourdough bread; I mean, what was happening behind the scene; ie, what was happening to the natural yeasts in the refrigerator?

I went to Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  Under page 191 of Pain a l'Ancienne, it says:

The unique delayed-fermentation method, which depends on ice-cold water, releases flavors trapped in flour....  The final product has ... character that is distinct from breads made with exactly the same ingredients but fermented by the standard method.... 

The cold mixing and fermentation cycles delay the activation of the yeast until after the amylase enzymes have begun their work of breaking out sugar from the starch.  When the dough is brought to room temperature and the yeast wakes up and begins feasting, it feeds on sugars that weren't there the day before.

Peter Reinhart adds,

... this delayed-fermentation method... evokes the fullness of flavor from the wheat beyond any other fermentation method I've encountered.  As a bonus, and despite all the intimidation science, this is actually one of the easiest doughs ... to make." 

How beautiful is that! 

Without further ado, let me go straight to my bread.  My Pain a l'Ancienne is an adaptation of Peter Reinhart's formula, as well as that of Johnny's Ciabatta Integrale.  Thank you Johnny, and thank you Peter.

 

                    

 

My formula for Wholemeal Pain a l'Ancienne

  • 182 g starter @ 75% hydration (5% rye)
  • 475 g Wholemeal flour (13.1% protein)
  • 414 g ice water
  • 11 g salt

Total dough weight 1.08 kg; overall hydration 85% 

 

                                                            

 

                    

 

My formula for White Pain a l'Ancienne

  • 182 g starter @ 75% hydration (5% rye)
  • 455 g Unbleached bread flour (11.9% protein)
  • 358 g ice water
  • 11 g salt

Total dough weight 1.01 kg; overall hydration 78% 

 

                                 

 

               

 

I recommend anyone to read SourDom's Sourdough Timetables.   While SourDom's intention is to give home bakers flexibility in scheduling, the delayed fermentation achieved means that the home baker has everything to gain in terms of crumb flavor.  Try it and wish you happy baking!

 

                                   

                                  Grilled Pain a l'Ancienne with buffalo ricotta by Australia's Paesanella

                                Cheese Manufacturers, drizzled with honey and garnished with honeycomb

 

Shiao-Ping

Note 1:  My Google translator tells me Pain a l'Ancienne means "old bread." According to jackal10 of eGullet Society for Culinary Arts and Letters, "A l'Ancienne" is a technique where the dough is mixed cold, and then retarded. The long cold period allows a long period for enzymatic breakdown of the starch into fermentable sugars but because of the cold there is little yeast activity, so that when the dough is later warmed up the yeast has more food available than would otherwise be the case. With slack dough it can give a highly aerated open structure."  

Note 2:  Johnny did not use ice cold water; however, his retardation schedule would mean that he would have achieved the same benefits.  Peter Reinhart's formula calls for one night retardation only.  

Comments

Mebake's picture
Mebake

See.. i knew that you would excel in Wholegrains.. as with refined grains. Nice bread. Nothing beats home baked bread, Nothing.

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

I did do this WW bread for you.  I had completely forgotten about wholemeal until you mentioned about it the other day.  Whole wheat flour is lot easier than whole grains though.  To this date I have had no luck with grains.   One of the best grains/seeds breads that I have seen is this one by chouette22.  Look at her amazing Sourdough Seed Bread.  I'd like to ask her to teach me.

chouette22's picture
chouette22

oh, I'd love to teach you but that would be like the student teaching the master! :)
As David said further down, just give that bread a try and your outcome will be, without a doubt, wonderful, as one really cannot go wrong with that formula.

Superb breads, as usual!

CaptainBatard's picture
CaptainBatard

Thanks for the beautiful post...It took me several reads for it to sink in...but i think it has...Beautiful...open crumb....

Judd

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

I love all of your baking and would love to see more.

DonD's picture
DonD

Your wholemeal crumb is totally incredible. I have to give your Sourdough a l'Ancienne method a try. Is wholemeal the same as whole wheat?

BTW if my French does not fail me, 'A l'Ancienne' means 'The Old Way'.

Don

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Yes, my wholemeal flour is your whole wheat flour.

Thanks for your translation of "A l"Ancienne."  You and David see eye to eye.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Yes, your wholemeal is what i refer to as Whole wheat... But No, i meant Whole grains as in Whole grains flours... such as whole barley Flour/ Whole Rye Flour. I got the misconception.. Eitherways... you do terrific sourdoughs, and you had me reach in to me freezer to revive my dried starters.

Hats off to you Shiao-Ping!

 

Mebake

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Yes, your wholemeal is what i refer to as Whole wheat... But No, i meant Whole grains as in Whole grains flours... such as whole barley Flour/ Whole Rye Flour. I got the misconception.. Eitherways... you do terrific sourdoughs, and you had me reach in to me freezer to revive my dried starters.

Hats off to you Shiao-Ping!

 

Mebake

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

baking and write up, Shiao-Ping!  The crumb and crust look so delicious!

Sylvia

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

I am dreaming of your Pugliese crumb in a Soudough Seed Bread....

FaithHope's picture
FaithHope

Thanks so much for always sharing your pictures and info!  I love it! 

Your bread is just AWESOME!! :)

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Thank you.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

This technique of cold retardation gives amazing flavor, doesn't it? Of course, in "the old days," they didn't have refrigeration. Oh, well.

And, if you haven't made Hamelman's "Seed Bread," you should do so! It is wonderful, as is the neighboring formula in "Bread" for 5-Grain Levain. Neither would present much of a challenge to you.

David

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi David

I posted the same recipe at the Australian Sourdough Companion website for the first time.  An experienced baker over there asked me a similar question as to whether or not I find doing the bread this way helped the flavor.  In answer to his question I said that I had always been a multi-grains and whole wheat flour type of person before I started baking sourdough, but since then my taste has been more white than otherwise.  The reason is I find, when made properly, levain white bread is very much to my taste that there has been no desire for me to want to find out the potential in wholemeal flour.  The delayed fermentation method in this post has shown to me that the cold retardation coupled with the high hydration has loosened up the flavour compounds in wholemeal flour.  It has opened up a flavor possibility in wholemeal flour which I was unaware of before.  The Wholemeal Pain a l'Ancienne is really a delight to have.

While it is still very good, the White Pain a l'Ancienne, on the other hand, is somewhat lackluster in comparison.  I think a plain Pain au Levain is better (page 158 of Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread).  

Crider's picture
Crider

and it was delicious! The first night, when I was ready to put in the refrigerator, I found that it was too full, so I put the dough on the porch overnight. It got down to 39° F and that was perfect. . .  the flavor of the finished loaves was very nice, but there wasn't much sour.

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Very glad to learn that this recipe has worked for you.   Thanks for your feedback.  Shiao-Ping

SLKIRK's picture
SLKIRK

I AM MAKING THE WHITE VERSION AND WONDER IF ON BAKING DAY THE DOUGH GOES DIRECTLY FROM THE FRIG. INTO THE OVEN OR DOES IT NEED TIME TO WARM AND RISE BEFORE BAKING ---

 

SLKIRK

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi I didn't let my dough warm up; it went straight from the fridge to the oven.