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
- 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.
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.
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