BBA Challenge #21: Pain a l’Ancienne

Now this is a baguette!

I admit I can’t compare this to the French Bread recipe (having sort of kind of goofed that one up) but this is what I would have wanted to achieve.  The aroma, the taste, the appearance of a beautiful baton of bread, the perfect delivery mechanism for cheese, confectionary, pate, or just on its own: this is, in my book, as good as you’re going to get outside of Paris!  I think I may just be a fan of the long slow ferment–I remember making a bread from Dan Leader’s Bread Alone several years ago that has a 10 hour poolish and was surprised at how amazing flour, yeast, water, and salt could taste as a result. 

Honestly, though, maybe my love for this particular BBA Challenge bread is *slightly* influenced by the fact of how easy it was to make.  This bread makes use of PR’s slow fermentation technique–in other words, rather than using a pre-ferment, a biga, or a poolish, you retard the whole bread in the fridge overnight.  Even slowing down the yeast in this way, you get quite a bit of rise; then as you let it come to room temperature you get even more:

For someone who is not so good at shaping the dough for its final proof, the next step was ideal for me.  Carefully place the dough on a cutting mat, and cut in half, then in thirds.  Carefully, becasue you don’t want to de-gas the dough.  The aroma of the bread is already in evidence as you start to manipulate the dough.

Stretch these six pieces out and leave them to rise.  That’s it! 

Once ready, I scored them with my lame before putting them in the oven.  Aren’t the beautiful?  Is it too much to say I feel as if I could have something similar looking up from the boulangerie (with some croissants, and a cafe au lait, in an ideal world…)

Finally–just as lovely (and delicious) inside as out.  A rare confluence–easy to make, yet still delicious to eat!

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3 thoughts on “BBA Challenge #21: Pain a l’Ancienne

  1. These look so incredibly delicious, Sara. Another reminder of why I need a lame. Congrats on a successful baking mission, and happy new year!

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