Sunday, October 25, 2009

pain a l'ancienne - bread baker's apprentice challenege #21

Pain a l'Ancienne...where to begin. Bread 21, in the bread baker's challenge, are these baguette shaped goodies. Not a straight forward creation, this recipe is going to take you two days to create. Don't feel too overwhelmed though, it's not rocket science.. It may however, as Peter says, have you facing the words "Unknown Kingdoms Be Here."

Why would you be facing the unknown you ask. In two words, cold water. Describing a process that has tremendous implications for the baking industry and for both professional and home bakers, this 'unique' delayed fermentation process, based on ice-cold water, releases all those flavours trapped inside flour in a different manner.

Even with all this fancy smancy talk, it boils down to this. Using the cold water will allow the flour itself to break down and release sugars that wouldn't normally be available at the start, if you mixed in warm water. These additional sugars will add a natural sweetness and help to caramelize the crust during baking.

This dough has a high level of hydration and as such, isn't that easy to handle. Being so wet and floppy, it sticks to your hands and arm hair (if you are like me). Once you are done mixing everything, it goes straight into the fridge over night.

The bread finally starts the rising period on day two, where it will need 3 or 4 hours to come out of hibernation and double in size. At this point, you'll need to heavily flour your counter or board, and start the shaping process.

With your dough prepped, and your oven ready for hearth baking, it just a matter of waiting 20-30 minutes for everything to come out.

How did it taste? Really good. Even with these being fairly tiny loaves, they had developed decent pockets of air.

Absolutely delicious straight from the oven, I downed an entire baguette with a bowl of homemade chili.

The next day brought a different texture to the bread, and created a chewier crust. Which just so happened to go wonderfully with tuna salad. What was I so worried about..maybe it's in the names. Pain de Champagne is next, and it almost 'sounds' as intimidating!

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