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.