The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

BBA Pain a la Ancienne -- question

MarySC's picture

BBA Pain a la Ancienne -- question

Hi everyone.  I've been spending a lot of time here on TFL and finally have a question to ask!

Reinhart's Pain a la Ancienne recipe (BBA version) lists 19-24 ounces of water in the ingredient list.  In the instructions he says to initially use 19 ounces of water and then "dribble in water" if too dry (or sprinkle in flour if too wet).

Of course, the first time, I added all 24 ounces I had pre-measured and then had to add "some" extra flour once I realized what I had done.  Sigh. 

Now, as I am typing out the recipe for future use, I realize that there is no instruction for what to do with the other 5 ounces of water.  Surely I am missing something?  The BPF percentages indicate the use of a total of 21.5 ounces of water ("approx")... a fair difference from 19 ounces... but still nowhere near 24 ounces.  I'm not sure why on earth he would say to prepare such a large amount of extra water.  Am I just over-analyzing??? Maybe so, and if so I would love confirmation!  :-)

(The baguettes were still marvelous by the way,-- the best by far of all the variations I have tried thus far, and I have stopped looking!)


PS: Just pulled SFBI ciabatta out of the oven and it looks incredible.  LOVE this site!!!!

Maverick's picture

The amount of water used will depend on a few different factors. Weather is a big one (especially humidity). Flour brand, type, and age are another factor. Whatever the reasons, the amount of water added is not always the same when looking for a specific feel to the bread. What Reinhart is saying is that it is easier to add water than to take it out. So start with the smaller amount and IF NEEDED add more. The other 5 ounces are there only if you need it because the dough feels too dry. If you don't use it, then toss it. He is giving you a range so that you don't use too little or too much.

For what it is worth, if you don't know how it should feel then go with the 21.5 oz and leave it at that.

kenlklaser's picture

He's pretty specific in step one, that the amount of water in the range should result in a dough that should stick to the bottom of the mixer's bowl, but not to the sides.  I read his range as desiring a single value of water, and that that single value occurs somewhere in the given range. If I'm interpreting correctly, then there is no left over water.  I scribbled in the margins that range is 70-88% of the flour weight, which is a very wide range.  I can speculate there are two underlying factors for the wide range, the precise protein level of the bread flour you use, its absorbency, as well as your comfort level in handling wetter doughs.  Another factor is the use of the dough, how flat you want the baguettes, or focaccia, or pizza dough, all stated uses for this dough and process.

MarySC's picture

Thanks, that's what I thought as well.  It really is a huge range -- but I just realized that he is convinced that all water used should be ice cold. I'm guessing he wants an abundance of the cold water to be available just in case-- instead of dribbling in whatever temp water is readily available later (as I would likely do).