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BBA Challenges #21, 22, and 23: Pain à l’Ancienne, Pain de Campagne, and Pane Siciliano

OK, so I have not abandoned my bread baking project. I have just not been keeping up with posting about it. I have been Unplugged for the past few weeks, working on revising my dissertation’s literature review for a December deadline, and also playing way too much Settlers of Catan. I blame Steve P., whose Halloween party was where I was first introduced to the board game, and Mike, who found the online version and downloaded it for us. We have been fiendishly collecting wood, bricks, wool, grain, and ore ever since.

But I have still been baking! Here are the fruits of my labors:

Pain à l’Ancienne

This bread is the one that Peter Reinhart seems most excited about. It uses cold fermentation and rising to retard the bread and intensify the flavor. It has only four ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, and water.

Flour, Yeast, and Salt

Ice Water

You mix the dough with ice water, and you do it by machine to avoid adding any heat. I think I had to add more flour to get the dough to release. Then it just stuck to my paddle.


It was strange and almost creepy to touch this dough. I am so used to touching warm dough that feels alive, and this dough felt cold and dead, somehow. But nothing could have been easier to make. Once it was kneaded for a very short time, it goes into the bucket and then into the refrigerator.

Into the Refrigerator

When I took it out of the refrigerator the next day, it hadn’t risen at all. In fact, it looks lower than when I put it in.

Out of the Refrigerator

I left it out to double, but I think I ended up shaping it before it had really risen enough:


The shaping was easy, too. You are just supposed to flatten the dough out and cut it into strips for the baguettes.



My baguettes ended up looking pretty funny:


I was disappointed that they didn’t get bigger, although they don’t look too much flatter than the ones in the book.


These did actually taste phenomenal. The flavor had real depth that made it hard to believe there were only four ingredients. It was a flavor that I associate with umami – almost as if it were a cheese bread. But I didn’t really like the way they were flat as baguettes. I think I would have enjoyed this more shaped differently, as maybe a foccaccia or pizza dough, both of which are offered as variations. Or maybe I should have let it rise longer. I just wanted a little more lift for a baguette. I guess these get 4.5 stars.

Pain de Campagne

I didn’t take any photos of making my pâte fermentée, because let’s face it. When you’ve seen one pâte fermentée, you’ve seen them all.

Here it is coming out of the refrigerator. Notice the half-moon marks from my too-long nails dimpling it down. I bet Peter Reinhart doesn’t have that problem.

Pate Fermentee

I used rye dough instead of whole wheat, and I am glad I did. It gave it more rye flavor than the marbled rye breads had! Yes, I am still bitter about the marbled rye.

Ready to Rise

Here it is ready to rise:

Ready to Rise

And nice and risen:


I used my couche for the second rise. They looked so cute shaped and the light was so good that I took about a million photos of them.




And here they are, finished.


The one on the left got stuck to one of its neighbors during the baking process and ended up somewhat deformed. We love him anyway.


This bread was a joy from start to finish. It was one of my favorite tasting breads so far. My only complaint was that I wish I hadn’t split the dough into thirds, because the resulting loaves were a bit small for sandwiches. Next time, I would just divide the dough in half. And there will so be a next time. This one gets 5 stars.

Pane Siciliano

I baked the pane siciliano this past week, and the sad part is that I couldn’t find my good camera while I was baking. We painted our kitchen last weekend, and I moved my camera while we were painting, and then I couldn’t find it again. Except for I really had found it, only I thought it was Mike’s and not mine. By the time my confusion was sorted out, it was too late for the pane siciliano. I just have this photo I took with my point-and-shoot:

Pane Siciliano

As you can tell from the photos, I didn’t really get the shaping quite right. These rose a lot in the oven. They taste pretty good, too. If I make these again, I might do the same thing as with the pain de campagne and just divide the dough in half so it is more sandwich-worthy.

Here is a crumb shot, after I found my camera again.


I liked this bread, but I think it suffered coming after the Pain de Campagne, which I liked a lot better. So I will be giving it just 4 stars.

Now, next up in the book is Panettone, but here is what I am going to do. First of all, I am not going to bake this week, because I am baking bread and rolls for Thanksgiving, since I am hosting it here at my house. But I think next week, I am going to skip the Panettone and move on to the Pizza Napoletana. There are three reasons: (1) I want to push back the Panettone to Christmas-time, (2) the Panettone needs sourdough starter and mine is currently dormant, so I am hoping to push it back to group it with the other sourdough breads. Then I will convert my stiff starter to a liquid starter since I will be using it every week. And (3) because I want pizza. I think those are convincing arguments.

8 thoughts on “BBA Challenges #21, 22, and 23: Pain à l’Ancienne, Pain de Campagne, and Pane Siciliano

  1. Beautiful! Always love your photos and comments. Can’t wait to make these next breads….so did the pain a l Ancienne did not require a dough hook? Even though it didn’t rise much, it has a beautiful crumb with open holes~

  2. Beautiful breads. I think that a few people skipped the Panettone. I actually went back and re-did it because it came out not so good the first time. I also think it should have been in the Sourdough section.

    The Pain de Campagne loaves are simply lovely. I just love the way they came out.

  3. Your couche pictures are adorable! Your comment about still being bitter about the marble rye cracked me up. I agree that the taste of pain l’ancienne was phenomenal. It still blows me away that those humble ingredients could make something that tastes that good.
    Your pane siciliano look like little seahorses. Very cute.

  4. with the pain l’ancienne, I didn’t flatten it out. I just let it double after I took it out of the fridge, and then cut the dough into six pieces – being very careful not to flatten or press any of the gasses out of the dough – stretched them, again very delicately, and put them in the oven. They ended up looking like a normal baguette, and tasting like everyone says – amazing.

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