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Making Old Fashioned Bread from Ancient Grains and Natural Yeast

Today’s industrial and conventional bread has come a long way from its ancestral origins. This recipe for pain à l’ancienne, or old fashioned bread, uses ancient unmodified grains and a natural traditional yeast method that yields a home-made loaf not only more wholesome in nutrients but also in flavor.

Making the natural yeast

The sourdough ferments in the glass jar by taking natural yeasts from the surrounding air


  • an old variety of « soft » common wheat (like Gentil Rosso or Rouge de Bordeaux) 200 g
  • water 100 ml
  • a glass jar, wool cloth and rubber band to cover
  • a bowl for mixing


Put the flour in a bowl by adding the water a little at a time until you get a very soft dough. The mixture thus obtained must be placed in a lightly floured glass jar.

Cut the surface of the dough with a cross cut and cover the container with a damp cloth and plastic wrap. The dough should be left to rest for 48 hours at around 18 °-25 °C.

The baby ball of sourdough will grow over the next few weeks as you add more fresh flour

After 48 hours the dough begins to swell forming large alveolars. Take away 200 g from the top and dispose. Now add another 200 g of fresh flour and 100 ml of water, knead it together, and leave to rest for another 2 days.

Continue this refreshing procedure for at least another 2 weeks.

Making the old fashioned bread


  • your yeast dough 50 g
  • fresh flour 150 g
  • oil 20 g
  • 1 spoon of salt
  • 1 spoon of honey
  • Pan for cooking in oven


Now that the natural yeast has cultivated you can use it for the old-fashioned bread-making (and the rest kept for future batches).

Mix 150 g of flour with 50 g of yeast dough the evening before making the bread.

The morning after, mix in another 200 g of fresh flour and 20 g of oil, 1 spoon of salt, and 1 spoon of honey.

Knead every 2 hours from morning to evening (cover with the wool rag in between kneads).

In the evening, cook the loaf in the oven for 180° C for 1 hour or until cooked through (cooking time may vary).

Et ça y est ! Your home-made loaf is ready for the next meal. Try some of the classic French recipes with bread below or enjoy alone with a bit of rich, creamy beurre.

This type of flour yields a darker color than more refined flours, yet it also has more flavor. Miam !

Classic french go-to’s with bread

La tartine—toasted baguette with butter and jam

Jambon-beurre—ham and butter baguette sandwich

Croque-monsieur—toasted ham and cheese sandwich that’s baked until crisp and covered with a béchamel sauce

Croque-madame—croque-monsieur with an egg on top

Pan bagnat—salade niçoise piled onto a bun

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