With the help of this incredibly simple recipe, you are able to bake a wonderful loaf of ciabatta-style bread without the huge effort ciabatta normally requires.
The only thing you’ll need is some patience for the dough to rest. The finished product works perfectly as a side for barbecues or other celebrations.
Pain paillasse was developed in the 1990s by the Genevan baker Aimé Pouly. He patented the recipe two years after developing it and started sharing licenses in Switzerland.
The ingredients and the exact method of preparation are still a well-kept secret, and bakeries that own the official license get specific mixtures of flour delivered to them. They also have a particular technique that must be followed to produce this authentic specialty.
However, it is hard to find places where the original version is sold, and it may not even be available outside of Western Europe. In order for this tasty treat to become more available, various recipes have been developed that closely mimic the original.
You might also enjoy the fact that it hardly needs any preparation or frequent checks!
Simply prepare the dough on the evening before you’re ready to bake and leave it in the fridge overnight. This is the easiest way to bridge the 14-16 hours that is required for resting.
Due to the long resting period, the bread develops an intense flavor and a wonderful crust.
This long fermentation process has yet another advantage. During that time, the starch transforms into natural sugar, which makes the bread become more digestible than common varieties.
Also, this is the reason behind it’s wonderful sweet and aromatic taste.
My favorite version is made of spelt.
I often use this kind of flour because I cannot tolerate large amounts of wheat. If you like, add some herbs or nuts for a tasty twist.
If you don’t consume the whole loaf at once, it’s best to keep it in a cloth bag or wrapped in a kitchen towel, as plastic bags or synthetic material will induce mold.
Freezing is also an option. Slice a chunk or two off as you need it to keep the rest fresh.
Due to the high moisture content of this bread, it will retain its freshness the next day, or after warming it up in the oven or toaster.
Let’s head to the recipe now!
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measuring Ingredients & Dry Mixture
Prepare the ingredients you need, and measure the flour, salt, yeast, and water.
Sift the flour into a bowl, then add the salt and sugar.
Step 2 – Adding Yeast and Water
Make a small well in the middle of the flour mixture, and gently add the water and the fresh yeast.
Mix the dough by hand or in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add optional ingredients like herbs, olives, or walnuts.
Knead until the dough feels smooth and is no longer sticky.
“Knead” some more kneading info? Read our post on kneading techniques to get the most beautiful breads!
Step 3 – Preparing the Dough for Resting
Lightly dust some plastic wrap (enough to wrap it completely around the dough) with flour.
Form a loaf, and put the dough onto the floured plastic wrap. Wrap the dough, and put it in the fridge for 14-16 hours.
Step 4 – Preparing the Bread for Baking
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
Remove the plastic wrap. Do not knead the dough anymore, because you don’t want to squeeze out the air pockets that have developed.
Step 5 – Baking the Bread
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Form the dough into a long loaf and twist it, so that it looks a bit like a root. This will provide a nice look to the crust after baking.
Bake for 30 minutes until the pain paillasse has a nice crust and a golden-yellow color.
One Recipe, Plenty of Options!
Do you need some ideas for what to do with the pain paillasse besides eating it right away? What about…
- Serving it fresh as a side dish with a drizzle of olive oil or herb butter?
- Chopping it into cubes and roasting it in a pan with some olive oil to make croutons?
- Using it for your next cheese fondue during the colder months?
- Preparing a fabulous panini?
- Toasting a slice or two and preparing a fresh bruschetta?
Do you own a pizza stone for your oven? Use it for baking this recipe to create the most excellent crust.
For something with a shorter resting period that’s perfect for spring, try making our seasonal pull-apart bread, with ramson or wild garlic. You can find the recipe here. It’s also easily adaptable to your tastes, to be sweet or savory!
How will you use this delicious bread recipe? What do you think of about long fermentation periods? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!
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Photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published July 20th, 2015 by Nina-Kristin Isensee. Revised and expanded on May 27th, 2017.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.