Pain a l’Ancienne French Bread Recipe

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French bread using the Traditional Method

Paris, France. This recipe for Pain a l’Ancienne French bread is our master recipe for French bread, baguettes, ciabatta and pizza. It’s an easy, foolproof recipe that makes a bread that rivals the bread we found in Paris and the pizza in Italy.

French Bread
French Bread

The French bread in France is truly incredible, with a soft interior and a crusty exterior. Pain a l’ancienne French bread gets it’s name by referring to a traditional way of making bread by allowing it to raise for a long time in a cold place.


We have tried for years to make something comparable, but without success, until we discovered this method. We make up a batch of dough in just a short time with very little work and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The overnight refrigeration allows the bread to rise slowly, improving the flavor, and creating a dough that doesn’t need much kneading. It is much easier than making bread using a sourdough starter and has a more nutty, buttery taste than sourdough. This recipe makes one large French bread boule, one ciabatta loaf, two baguettes, two medium pizzas or four mini baguettes that can be baked on different days, anytime in the next four days. We make up a batch of dough almost every week and decide at the last minute what it will be. The ciabatta and pizza are made by adding olive oil – we usually use our homemade garlic olive oil. Variations can be made by using different oil and coating with different nuts or seeds. We have used this recipe for everything from Flammekuchen to seeded baguettes.

French bread


  • Use the best ingredients – brands matter! We included the brands we used.
  • The dough is made one day, and then refrigerated for 1 to 4 days, making baking flexible.
  • Use a stand mixer – it makes life so much easier.
  • Use a scale to measure the ingredients – it is much more accurate and this is especially important when baking. Measuring flour with a measuring cup can be off by as much as a third. Measuring by weight can also be much easier – just put the mixing bowl on the scale and zero the scale before adding each ingredient – so easy. Measuring by weight is so important that all the measurements are given in grams, except the smaller amounts that are more accurate using teaspoons and Tablespoons.
French Bread


Easy French bread that rivals the breads in France
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast
Cuisine: French
Keyword: French Bread, Pain a lAncienne


  • dutch oven




  • Using a scale, measure the flour and the salt into the mixing bowl. Stir and then add the yeast, barley malt syrup and water.
  • Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 1 minute.
  • Wait 5 minutes.
  • Switch to the dough hook. and mix on low for 1 minute.
  • Wait 10 minutes.
  • mix on low for 1 minute.
  • Wait 10 minutes.
  • mix on low for 1 minute.
  • Wait 10 minutes.
  • Using a spoon, lift a corner of the dough and fold it over the top. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and do this again. Fold it like this a total of eight times.
  • Put the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl with enough room for it to double in size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 4 days.


  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Shape it into a boule. Put the boule on parchment paper in a bowl. Oil the top and cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough rise for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
  • Place the dutch oven in the oven and preheat the oven to the highest temperature possible for at least 30 minutes.
  • Remove the dutch oven from the oven. Leaving the boule on the parchment paper, lift it into the dutch oven. Using a scissors or sharp knife, make a few cuts around the top of the boule. Drizzle a Tablespoon of water onto the boule. Place the lid on the dutch oven and return it to the oven.
  • After fifteen minutes, remove the lid on the dutch oven. Continue baking for about 15 to 20 minutes until the bread is golden brown.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a rack. It's important to wait until the bread is cool before slicing.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
bread topped with sauted onions, creme fraiche and cheese
Check out this recipe

We discovered baguettes in France, and learned of the traditional method of making them. We researched the science and techniques behind the recipe and used tips from exceptional chefs. Then we used the best ingredients we could find to create this recipe. For more ideas, see our other posts about recipes inspired by travel.

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