I have been looking forward to making this bread. It is, like many of the breads in the Bread Baking Apprentice, a two day bread. You start with the pate fermentee, a mixture of flour, salt, yeast and water, which is refrigerated for a day.
Early in the morning, I got up, cut it into ten pieces and let it sit on the counter to take the chill off.
Then you add the pate fermentee to flour, whole wheat flour, salt, yeast and water. Forming another dough, which ferments for two hours. When the dough has doubled in size, about two hours, the fun begins. This dough is easy to shape and Reinhart has beautiful pictures of several possible shapes.
The epi is shaped like a wheat sheaf. Here is where I made my mistake. The dough should have been shaped into a baguette, allowed to proof and right before it went into the oven, cut with scissors. Somehow I failed to follow the precise directions and cut the baguette and then let it proof. I lost some of the definition of the cuts.
I will need to try this again. I will cut down on the amount of salt. Between the pate fermentee and the pain, it has 1.5 teaspoons of salt, which is a little too much for me. Next time, I will forewarn the fire department and preheat the oven a little higher. I got a nicer brown on the pain a l'ancienne. I do wonder what the alarm company thinks. Does there conversation go.... she called again, every weekend when she cooks, she calls us to shut off the fire alarm, when will she learn?
We devoured one of the loaves and have two waiting for dinner.