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pain a l'ancienne recipe?

Srishti's picture

pain a l'ancienne recipe?

Hello all,

Could anyone, please, please, post the BBA pain a l'ancienne recipe.... I want to start it tonight and (I don't have the book) I won't be able to drop-by the library to pick it up :(

Thanks sooooo much


zolablue's picture

Pain à l'Ancienne, Recipe © Peter Reinhart, Bread Baker’s Apprentice


Days to Make: 2

Day 1: 10 to 15 minutes mixing

Day 2: 2 to 3 hours fermentation, shaping, and panning; 15 to 30 minutes baking

Makes 6 small baguettes, 6 to 8 pizzas, or one 17 by 12-inch focaccia

6 cups (27 ounces) unbleached bread flour

2 1/4 teaspoons (.56 ounce) salt

1 3/4 teaspoons (.19 ounce) instant yeast

2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons to 3 cups (19 to 24 ounces) water ice cold (40°F)

Semolina or cornmeal for dusting

1. Combine the flour, salt, yeast and 19 ounces of water in the bowl of the electric mixer with the paddle attachment and mix for 2 minutes on low speed. Switch to the dough hook and mix for 5 to 6 minutes on medium speed. The dough should be sticky on the bottom of the bowl, but it should release from the sides of the bowl. If not, sprinkle in a small amount of flour until this occurs (or dribble in water if the dough seems too stiff and clears the bottom as well as the sides of the bowl). Lightly oil a large bowl and immediately transfer the dough with a spatula or bowl scraper dipped in water into the bowl. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

2. Immediately place the bowl in the refrigerator and retard overnight.

3. The next day, check the dough to see if it has risen in the refrigerator. It will probably be partially risen but not doubled in size (the amount of rise will depend on how cold the refrigerator is and how often the door was opened). Leave the bowl of dough out at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours (or longer if necessary) to allow the dough to wake up, lose its chill, and continue fermenting.

4. When the dough has doubled from its original prerefrigerated size, liberally sprinkle the counter with bread flour (about 1/2 cup). Gently transfer the dough to the floured counter with a plastic dough scraper that has been dipped in cold water, dipping your hands as well to keep the dough from sticking to you. Try to degas the dough as little as possible as you transfer it. If the dough is very wet, sprinkle more flour over the top as well as under it. Dry your hands thoroughly and then dip them in flour. Roll the dough gently in the sprinkled flour to coat it thoroughly, simultaneously stretching it into an oblong about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. If it is too sticky to handle, continue sprinkling flour over it. Dip a metal pastry scraper into cool water to keep it from sticking to the dough, and cut the dough in half widthwise with the pastry scraper by pressing it down through the dough until it severs it, then dipping it again in the water and repeating this action until you have cut down the full length of the dough. (Do not use this blade as a saw; use it as a pincer, pinching the dough cleanly with each cut.) Let the dough relax for 5 minutes.

5. Prepare the oven for hearth baking as shown on pages 91-94, making sure to have an empty steam pan in place. Preheat the oven to 500°F (550°F if your oven goes this high). Cover the back of two 17-by-12-inch sheet pans with baking parchment and dust with semolina flour or cornmeal. Proceed with shaping as shown below.


Shaping Pain À l’Ancienne Baguettes:

Take one of the dough pieces and repeat the cutting action, but this time cut off 3 equal-sized lengths. Then do the same with the remaining half. This should give you 6 lengths.

Flour your hands and carefully lift 1 of the dough strips and transfer it to an inverted parchment-lined pan, gently pulling it to the length of the pan or to the length of your baking stone. If it springs back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then gently pull it out again. Place 3 strips on the pan, and then prepare another pan and repeat with the remaining strips.

6. Score the dough strips as for baguettes (page 90) slashing the tops with 3 diagonal cuts(or see Commentary regarding scissors). Because the dough is sticky, you may have to dip the razor blade, or serrated knife or scissors in water between each cut. You may also omit the cuts if the dough isn't cooperating.

7. Take 1 pan to the preheated oven and carefully slide the dough, parchment and all, onto the baking stone (depending on the direction of the stone, you may choose to slide the dough and parchment off the side of the sheet pan instead of off the end); or bake directly on the sheet pan. Make sure the pieces aren't touching (you can reach in and straighten the parchment or the dough strips if need be). Pour 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan and close the door. After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water and close the door. Repeat twice more at 30-second intervals. After the final spray, reduce the oven setting to 475°F and continue baking. Meanwhile, dust the other pan of strips with flour, mist with spray oil, and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. If you don't plan to bake these strips within 1 hour, refrigerate the pan and bake later or the next day. If you’d like to bake them as rustic, ciabatta-style breads, leave them at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours and then bake. As the loaves proof, they will resemble and perform like ciabatta.

8. The bread should begin to turn golden brown within 8 or 9 minutes. If the loaves are baking unevenly at this point, rotate them 180 degrees. Continue baking 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the bread is a rich golden brown and the internal temperature registers at least 205°F.

9. Transfer the hot breads to a cooling rack. They should feel very light, almost airy, and will cool in about 20 minutes. While these are cooling, you can bake the remaining loaves, remembering to remove the parchment from the oven and turn the oven up to 500°F or higher before baking the second round.


This dough also makes a great oil-free pizza dough or focaccia. Refer to the variations that follow and then the formulas for Pizza Napoletana (page 207) and Focaccia (page 159).

This dough is very sticky, like ciabatta dough, so it is best made in an electric mixer or a food processor (page 55). However, if mixing by hand, use the method described on page 56.

One of the testers of this recipe, Jill Myers, suggested using sharp scissors to score the bread instead of a knife or razor. This is a great idea, as the wet dough is difficult to slit in the normal manner. If you are using this method, try to get a long angle with the shears and make a long cut rather than just short snips.

Pain À l’Ancienne Pizza: Heavily flour the counter and gently transfer the fully fermented dough from the bowl to the counter with a plastic scraper that has been dipped in cold water, dipping your hands as well to keep the dough from sticking to you. Divide the dough by continually dipping the pastry scraper into water and cutting the dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces. Gently round the pieces into balls, being careful not to punch down and expel any more gas than necessary. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment and spray lightly with oil. Place the floured dough balls on the parchment. Mist them with spray oil and place the pan into a food-grade plastic bag or loosely cover with plastic wrap, and return the pan to the refrigerator, unless you plan to make the pizzas immediately. These pizza doughs will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. (You may also put them into the freezer in individual zipper bags, and keep them for up to three months.) Remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before shaping and baking your pizza as you always do.

Pain À l’Ancienne Foccacia: Line a 17 by-12-inch sheet pan with baking parchment. With floured hands, take the fully fermented dough from the bowl and proceed with shaping instructions on page 162. Ferment at room temperature for about 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough rises and fills the pan, rising to about 1 inch thick. Proceed with the baking instructions for focaccia.

Srishti's picture

Thanks zolablue,

You didn't type it all down, did you???

Thanks so much!!!!

I'll go start it right away!


yelda's picture

I also tried BBA's pain al'ancienne recipe, and came out very good.

You can see my result here

zolablue's picture

It just appeared magically on my computer!  Naw, I had it already typed up and I was happy to post it for you.  Let us know how it turned out.


Yelda, your bread looks really good!

LindyD's picture

Not sure if you have the BBA, but Philippe Gosselin doesn't add the yeast and salt until the second day.  Peter Reinhart was very aware of this (see p 20 and 24 of the BBA), but changed Gosselin's formula--possibly on the premise that one mix would be easier for the home baker?

Following Gosselin's method (two mixes) does produce a superior baguette.


hanseata's picture

For steaming 1/2 cup hot water in the steam pan is sufficient! Additional spraying of the oven walls is not necessary - I asked Peter Reinhart about this, because in his WGB he recommends water in the steam pan only. He said that between publishing BBA and WGB he had realized that that step was enough.

I highly recommend preheating the oven to 550 (not only 500 F). My breads usually bake in 17 min (I bake them in perforated baguette pans on 2 tiers, rotating them and removing the steam pan after 9 min.)

The crust improves (doesn't soften too quickly) if you leave the breads for another 5 minutes in the switched-off oven with the door slightly ajar, before cooling them on a rack.


tc's picture

What's "the method described on page 56?" Is that referring to adding oil to the worksurface and your hands to knead? I saw a video of Peter R. doing that.

Also, have any of you tried this variation of this recipe? I've made it several times with great results. Anyone tried both? Which is better?