The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Peter Reinharts artisan breads

mivigliotti's picture

Peter Reinharts artisan breads


I just started baking and I bought Peter Reinharts artisan breads everyday. I am making the classic french bread and i had 2 issues: first one was he says to make the dough the day before and put in fridge overnight, which I did. today was the day i woke up took my dough out and had to cut into 10oz portions and shape to a batard. The problem I have is shaping them into batards I feel cold dough was not letting me seel the dough and as I was rolling them I felt it was coming apart at the seams. Should i Have let the dough rest at room temp first before shaping?

Second issue Ihad was after scoring which I used a serrated knife, I baled bread according to the book using the hearth oven method and the bread didnt spring and I ended uo with just slashes in bread that didnt poof out. I think issue was while bread was proofing I left them on top of hot oven and the proofed maybe too quickly?


BellesAZ's picture

To me a bread shapes better if it is closer to room temperature.  In addition, it doesn't rise well until it starts warming again and yeast wakes up from it's cold chill. 

I'm sorry that you were disappointed.  Nothing annoys me more than doing a two day bread and having the end product fall short of expectations.  Maybe someone with much more experience can address your concerns.

I just finished a 3 day Pane Siciliano from his Bread Bakers Apprentice book and it turned out really nicely.  I love his direction.. usually it's very, very good.

mivigliotti's picture

I love his book as well and for second time I made bread the results were good.  I just have some confusion about shaping the dough after it comes out of the cold fermentaion.

BellesAZ's picture

Someone who has made it can address it for you.  This morning, I pulled my Pain Sicillian out of the refrigerator and I let it sit on the counter for an hour as my oven got up to temperature.  But, yesterday, when I mixed both doughs together, PR suggests shaping right then.. and the dough was more room temperature and malleable.  It had also just completed a 2 hour rise and it was beautiful to work with. 

In the least, you should be able to let it rise fully before slashing and baking.  You might just try adapting the recipe that way for the next time and see what happens.  It can't make it any worse, that's for sure!

mivigliotti's picture

I will def wait for e response frome spmeone who has done it ill make another batch this weekend

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

...but I have made this recipe and several others from the book. 

I think this is a stiffer dough than most of his recipes and I'll bet that plays a role in the cold-shaped loaves coming apart at the seams.  Very wet dough shapes better cold, but a 60 something % hydrated cold dough might fight you when shaping.

So...I think I warmed this dough before shaping.  I know I do that for recipes from his Whole Grain Breads book that calls for refrigerated bigas.  I'll even flatten the cold dough gently and cover on the counter, flipping and moving to other parts of the granite counter to speed up the warming process.  I've laid half-full plastic bags of 90 F water over the flattened dough to speed up warming.


mivigliotti's picture

I figured after making the dough and cold ferment I reall should let rest after I portion it out. I also need to practice my shaping technique.

BellesAZ's picture

If you let it rest too long, it will start to warm and rise, which you don't really want.  Instead, you could shape into your loaves on Day 1 after the initial mix, then refrigerate them already shaped.  On Day two, you're just removing them  to unchill and rise.  Sorry, I repeated myself.  LOL

mivigliotti's picture

the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake. Gently transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, taking care to degas it as little as possible. For baguettes and batards divide the cold dough into 10 ounce pieces for 1lb boules divide the dough into 19 ounce pieces.

Form the dough into batards or baguettes. Mist the top with spray oil, loosely cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temp for 1 1/2 hour or until doubles in size.



Am I missing something here?

BellesAZ's picture

He's very clear on his directions.  However, it's interesting to note that later versions of the recipe and directions are completely different. 

Next time you make them, I wouldn't hesitate to shape my loaves and let them rest overnight already shaped.  Then leave them out 2 hours to rise, then slas just before baking on the next day.

Or, use the formula and directions in BBA and bake them in 5 hours with a pate fermente.

mivigliotti's picture

to me saying this: Hi Michael,
It is best to shape the dough while it is still cold, as it's easier to handle it then. As it warms up it gets stickier. Don't use too much dusting flour, but just enough on your hands to keep it from sticking. You will just have to seal the seam with your fingers or the heel of your hand, pinching it closed along the seam. If it isn't perfectly sealed it will be okay, as you raise it with the seam side down it will seal itself also to some extent.
Do the slashes about halfway through the raising stage, while the dough is still firm and cool, maybe 30 minutes after you shape it. This should allow it to pucker open as it continues to wake up. And maybe it will be better not to put it in such a warm place. Let it wake up gradually, for about 60 to 90 minutes, at room temperature. It won't rise a lot but then it should spring nicely when you bake it.
Please let me know if this helps.

BellesAZ's picture

He's a nice man to reply to you.  I've had emails from him in the past and can never get over how generous he is with his time to bakers.

I am sure he appreciates your question as it will be a point to correct in his upcoming edition of the book.. whenever that might be.

Good job.

KYHeirloomer's picture

I haven't, as yet, seen the Artisan Bread Everyday book. But in all his others, he almost always recomends at least taking the chill off.

In BBA, his first big use of pre-ferments and retarded fermentation, every formula that uses a chilled pre-ferment (such as his pate fermentee) includes the instructions to let it warm at least an hour to take the chill off before making the final dough.

In cases where the shaped dough is chilled, he implies that they'll need warming. For instance, in the Pane Siciliano, after you take it from the fridge, it may require remaining at room temp for up to a couple of hours, until the poke test works properly "or until it wakes up and rises more."

When I make it (which is fairly often as it's one of our favorites" I always take the shaped loaves out before turning on the oven. By the time the oven has preheated, the loaves have at least lost their chill.

For what it's worth, I believe the progression of his more popular books is:

Crust & Crumb-->Bread Baker's Apprentice-->Whole Grain Breads-->Artisan Bread Everyday.

hanseata's picture

I regularly bake breads from all P.R.'s last three books. I really cannot find any difference in a bread's performance whether you de-chill the dough for 2 hours before shaping or whether you shape it cold.

I prefer letting the dough come to room temperature before I shape it, though. The final rising time and the time to start preheating the oven is easier to control - it's always between 30 - 60 minutes (depending on the bread's size and the warmth of my kitchen). I also don't like the feel of chilled dough - less pleasure to handle it.

The Pane Siciliano from BBA is one of mine (and my customers') absolute favorites. Here I found it makes a real difference whether you bulk ferment the dough or the shaped breads in the refrigerator. Retarding the dough and shaping the breads on the baking day never gave me the same good results (airiness) - even if I proofed them quite long - as the breads that were shaped before retarding them overnight.



madruby's picture


Glad to see that you are discussing P.R. ABED as I just started baking from that book (and just started baking - litterally!).  I cannot claim to be a connaisseur but I have made two recipes so far and this is what I have found:

Recipe - Lean Bread (what I call the "template recipe")

In his book, after the stretch and fold stage, Peter has us put the dough immediately into the fridge for the long and slow fermentation.  The next day, the bread is taken out of the fridge 2 hrs prior to BAKING (not shaping), then it's shaped and left at room temperature for the final proof.  Because I never saw much proofing here, I got nervous/frustrated/disappointed and simply started looking for another way to go about with this recipe.  I never had any problems with the shaping bcuz I usually did the boule which was easy; the lack of proofing was what irritated me.  Before I was ready to move on to the next recipe, I stumbled on the book's French bread recipe.

Recipe - French Bread

This recipe has two versions.  The first version calls for the immediate cold fermentation after the kneading/strech and fold.  Here again, the shaping occurs the next day, after the dough is taken out of the fridge and appx 2 hrs before baking (similar to the lean bread recipe).

Now, the variation is what is interesting (and perhaps may have confused some of you).  Rather than putting the dough into the fridge immediately, this 2nd version calls you to let it rise at room temp for 90 min first.  After that 90 min rise (and rise it does!), the dough is shaped and THEN headed to the fridge for the overnight fermentation.  Because this variation has already given the dough a first counter rise (ie 90 min) and the dough is already shaped, we take the dough out of the fridge only an hour prior to baking. Peter says the rationale behind this variation is to give the crust  more of a blistery look (and he is right).

My results:

As mentioned above, the lack of/little final proof had me re-try the lean recipe using the 90 min initial counter rise after the strectch and fold.  Then, I divided my dough into 2 portions: shaped ONLY one portion, and threw it into the fridge.  The 2nd portion, I did not shape and just put it into the fridge as well.  The next day, I used the shaped boule and let it final proof appx 1 hour before baking.  This time, eventhough I still did not get much from the final proof, I did not mind as much bcuz the dough got a good rise in the fridge.  The oven spring was AMAZING.   As for the other portion, when came time to use it, I had to shape it first.  Since I had to manipulate it, I lost all the rise I got from the fridge and the final proofing did not give much expansion here again.  Nevertheless,  I thought my bread still looked and tasted better than the exact lean bread recipe template (which did not call for the 90 min counter rise).

Since I liked the 90 min counter rise so much, I decided to stick to the second variation when came time to do the French bread recipe.  The 90 min counter rise was always fabulous and the fridge overnight rise after the dough is shaped was just as incredible (the doughs always expanded 1.5 to 2 times their size).  An hour before baking, I'd take the already shaped dough from the fridge and let it proof.  Since it was already shaped, I never had to touch the doughs much (I would shape the doughs directly onto the parchment the previous night) so the expansion I got from the fridge fermentation was not disturbed.  I no longer care that the final proof did not produce more rise.  And the results I got from this variation ie 90 min counter rise, then shaping, then overnight fermentation and rise, then 1 hour final proof were always much better in terms of loaves' final sizes.  However, I did notice that the crust is thicker using this variation (but still just as good and crispy) and more blistered, whereas if I did not do the 90 min initial counter rise, the crust turned out to be thinner.

Conclusion: whether using the lean bread template or French bread recipe, I will know to always use the variation proposed by the French bread recipe.  Just easier and always much better and tastier results IMHO.

Now, as for the matters of the scoring and oven spring...well, that's another 3 pages right there (just don't have much success with either one but am working on themmm).

I know this recital was a bit long but I just wanted to cover some of the confusions.  Hope this helps.

Good luck with the next loaf (I know I'll need it).


madruby's picture

Mivigliotti, try watching Ciril Hitz You Tube video on shaping bread.  He does an excellent job showing you how to shape beautiful loafs and his hands make it look so easy (but it isn't...I tried shaping my dough into a boule and I am far from having his finesse).

Yesterday morning, I baked the lean bread recipe (which had been shaped and sitting in the fridge since Wednesday pm) using the French bread variation and a dutch oven.  PERFECTION.  Crust, crumb, appearance.  By far the most perfect, tasty, amazing piece of bread I have made since I started reading his book 2-3 weeks ago.  My hairdresser couldn't believe how incredible that loaf tasted.

My only problem is for now, I am limited to shaping my dough into a boule so I can bake it in my dutch oven as I am experiencing overproofing and oven spring issues (you can read all about it in my posting  Artisan Baking: Overproofing and oven spring.

Once I figure out how to solve my overproofing and oven spring problem, I will start shaping these babes into baguettes/batards again so I can bake them without the dutch oven.  Cheers