French Bread from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday

I just made the french bread from Peter Reinhart’s new bread book. The book is all about cold fermentation (well, not all the recipes call for cold fermentation, but it is the driving force behind most of the recipes). He also uses higher levels of hydration and more yeast than he has in the past with some recipes. The french bread is 66% hydration–not as high a level of hydration as the Lean Dough or the Pain a l’Ancienne.

The recipe gives two options: mix the dough and put in the fridge to ferment overnight, or you can let the dough rise after mixing, shape it, and then let the shaped dough rise in the fridge. I tried half the batch one way, and half the other.

The boule was the bread that was shaped before being refrigerated. When it came out of the oven, it has a sweeter, wheatier smell than the other bread. But, the taste of all the bread, and the texture as well, was the same. The crust on the boule did look a bit nicer, though.

I am submitting this to Yeastspotting.

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9 Responses to “French Bread from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday”

  1. wearemadhatters Says:

    This bread looks great, is the only difference that you let it rise for longer in the fridge rather than for a shorter time out of the fridge? Sorry if that’s a silly question, we were just trying to figure out how to make bread this weekend, ended up with a lovely variety of sourdough at the end of the day but I can’t help but feel it was beginners luck!

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Oh, sorry if I wasn’t clear. In both cases, you are giving the bread dough an overnight rest in the fridge. It is just a matter of when you put it in the fridge.   If you follow the link to the recipe, you will see better what I am talking about.   Basically, the recipe gives you two options:   (1) mix the dough, put  the dough in the fridge overnight, take it out the next day, shape your loaves, let them rise, and bake them.   (2) mix the dough, let it rise, shape your loaves, put your shaped loaves in the fridge overnight. The next morning, take out the unbaked loaves, let them rest a little longer, and then bake them.

      In both cases, cold fermentation, or letting the dough rise in the fridge, gives great flavor and texture to the bread. The fridge slows down fermentation, which improves the flavor of the bread.   It is just a matter of convenience whether you slow the fermentation down (or the risings of the bread dough) at the stage where your are giving the bread its first rise or at the stage where you are giving the bread a second and final rise after shaping it into loaves.

  2. wearemadhatters Says:

    Oh that’s brilliant, thank you! I’ll definitely try that out.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      If you are new to bread making, you might want to try a no knead bread recipe as well as Peter Reinhart’s recipe(s). There is the NYT Jim Lahey recipe and there is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I have information about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day on my site, but the authors of that book also have their own website with some recipes. Jim Lahey’s recipe is widely available on the internet. Dan Lepard, another bread book author, has a website, as well. His recipes are also fantastic.

  3. YeastSpotting June 18, 2010 | Wild Yeast Says:

    […] Artisan Breads Everyday French Bread […]

  4. Mimi Says:

    I have the book but haven’t gotten to it yet. You are making me want to make french bread!

  5. Vigliotti Says:

    I just started baking and I bought Peter Reinharts artisan breads everyday. I am making the classic french bread and i had 2 issues: firs one was he says to make the dough the day before and put in fridge overnight, which I did. today was the day i woe up tokk my dough ou and had to cut into 10oz portions and shape to a batard. The problem I have is shaping them into batards I feel cold dough was not letting me seel the dough and as I was rolling the m I felt it was coming apart at the seems. Should i Have let the dough rest at room temp first before shaping?

    Second issue Ihad was afer scoring which I used a serrated knife, I baled bread according to the book using the hearth oven method and the bread didnt spring and I ended uo with just slashes in bread that didnt poof out. I think issue was while bread was proofing I left them on top of hot oven and the proofed masybe too quickly?

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Hmm . . . I have shaped cold dough many times and have not had that problem. It is definitely true that dough will seem less sticky after resting in the fridge, partly because it has had a chance to absorb moisture and maybe partly because it is cold (maybe). Maybe what is happening is that you are adding too much flour and the dough is too dry after its rest in the fridge.

      If you didn’t shape the bread properly, it could affect your slashing of the bread. If you roll up the dough into a batard shape and get the exterior nice and tight, with lots of surface tension, the dough should spread right after you slash it.

      Over proofing could be a problem as well in terms of slashing. It could be that you let the bread over proof and that is why there was no oven spring and no open slashes.

      Try sending your question to or try searching to see if anyone else had this problem in the forums. This a wonderful site where lots of experienced bakers participate, and many of them are Peter Reinhart fans. I highly recommend checking it out if you are new to bread baking and want to learn more.

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