Posted by: Jonjon | March 27, 2009

Pain a l’ancienne 9.8/10

Pain a l’ancienne 9.8/10

March 27 2009

2% salt, 2% yeast, 72% cold water to bread flour

– 500g bread flour* 125g
– 10.5 to 11g salt 2.75g-1/4 teaspoon and 1/8 and a bit more teaspoon
– 10.5g fresh yeast** (or 3.5g instant yeast I believe) 0.875g
– 360g ice cold water (under 4°C), more or less 90g
– flour for shaping the dough the next day (about 1/2 cup) 1/8 cup
The day before
– Prepare your ice water. I place water from the fridge in the freezer for about 15 minutes, but you can also add ice cubes.
– Prepare a large mixing bowl by oiling it lightly.
– Place flour in bowl of stand mixer. Bury the salt under the flour so it doesn’t come in contact with the yeast. Break up the fresh yeast over the flour. Pour the cold water on top.
– Mix the dough with the dough hook at speed 1 until all the flour is absorbed by the water, then mix at speed 2 for 5 to 6 minutes. The dough should be quite wet: it should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom (so a small circle of dough stays permanently glued to the bottom of the bowl as the dough hook swings the rest of the dough around the bowl). Add water drop by drop if it seems too dry, or a little flour at a time if it’s too wet.
– As soon as you are done kneading, take a wet plastic scraper and scrape the dough into the oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

1. Shaping the breads
– Take the dough out of the fridge. It may or may not have risen in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature for at least two hours, possibly more if after the two hours it still hasn’t at least doubled in size. I’ve let it sit on the counter for I believe up to four hours or more.

About 45 minutes to an hour before you want to bake your bread, start preheating your oven to its maximum temperature, preferably with a ceramic pizza stone (or quarry tiles?) placed in the lower half of the oven. The stone conducts heat efficiently and creates a nice crust. If you don’t have a pizza stone, use the thickest cookie sheet you can find, or several cookie sheets. Perhaps they don’t need to be preheated quite as long.
– About 10 minutes before baking, place a large metal pan in the top of the oven to heat it up. This will be used later for creating steam. Also start boiling the of cup of water that will later be poured into this pan.
– Prepare: flour, a bowl of cold water, a bench scraper, a plastic scraper, a piece of parchment paper on the back of a cookie sheet, or on a pizza peel if you have one.
– Liberally flour a work surface (about 1/2 cup of flour?)
– Very gently pour the dough out of the bowl, helping it along with the wet plastic scraper so as to prevent stretching as much as possible: you don’t want to degas the dough and risk losing the precious air bubbles.
– Sprinkle flour generously all over the dough, and with floured fingers, gently lift the dough around the edges to add more flour and to gently shape it into a rectangle.
– Dip your bench scraper in the water bowl, and cut the rectangle into the first of four slices. You want to press down and pinch with the scraper, as opposed to making a sawing motion. After each slice, dry and flour your hands, then carefully lift the strip of dough with two hands onto the parchment paper, where you will gently stretch the dough to the width of the paper, as you lay it down. This should be fairly easy to do, I find gravity does all the work for me. But if the dough is very springy and resists being stretched, let it rest for five minutes to give the gluten a chance to relax. Repeat with all four slices of dough, making sure they don’t touch each other.
– A light touch with the dough is essential to keeping if from deflating. Make sure your fingers are always either wet or floured to prevent the dough from sticking to them.
– Scoring dough that is this wet is not easy. I don’t know the first thing about scoring, but scissors dipped in flour work fairly well. The recipe says you can skip scoring altogether if the dough doesn’t cooperate.
– You don’t have to wait for the baguettes to proof, you can proceed with the baking step right away.

2. Baking the breads
The first few minutes of baking are a little hectic. The goal is to create as much steam as possible in the beginning, as this helps the bread rise and creates a pleasant crust. Since most of us don’t have professional ovens, Reinhart proposes workarounds (I think he calls this hearth baking):
– After putting the bread in the oven (just slide the bread together with the parchment paper onto the preheated stone or cookie sheet), immediately and carefully pour 1 cup of boiling water into the metal pan that has been heating at the top of your oven. (In the beginning I used a large Pyrex dish, which was great, till I poured water that wasn’t quite hot enough into it, and it shattered over my precious bread.) Close the oven.
– 30 seconds later, open the door and quickly squirt water onto the sides of the oven with the squirt bottle. Work as quickly as possible, and try not to squirt water on the bread or on glass (lights, the door of your oven) or the thermal shock could cause cracking. Close the door of the oven, wait 30 seconds, do it again. You’ll squirt the walls of your oven a total of 3 times in this way.
– (In the interest of full disclosure, let me say I use yet another steam gadget, though I have no idea if it contributes in any way to the success of my breads: I discovered my oven has a little doo-hicky that lets you squirt water inside to create steam. It may be superstition on my part, but I do my utmost to generate as much steam as possible as soon as I put the bread in the oven).
– After the final squirting, you can lower the oven temperature to 245°C. The temperature was higher in the beginning to compensate for all the door opening.
– After about 8 minutes, check to see if the bread is browning evenly. Turn it around to ensure even baking. Take out the steam pan if it still contains water, as now you want a dry environment for the bread.
– I take my bread out 10 minutes later. The target internal temperature is 96°C (205°F). One blogger suggested leaving it longer makes for a tougher crust. I often go by the color of the bread.
– Let the bread cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes. This is the hardest part, but worth it, as the texture of the bread won’t be settled if you break in too soon.
Breads With Yeast

This tasted less saltier, and better than ciabatta. It was also easier to make than ciabatta. I put it in the oven for around 25 minutes at 220-250c, with one cup of boiling water on the top on the parchment sheet. It didn’t brown in the first 10 minutes that’s why I put it in for a further 15 minutes. It came out beautifully colored, and nice crisp on the outside with nice holes and chewy inside. It was better tasting than ciabatta. It didn’t have much of a fermented smell, rather, it was the texture of the bread itself that created the flavor.
By the way, they puffed to twice the size on baking. I let it ferment for about 4-5 hours, then after stretching, I let it rise for about 30 minutes.


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