Pain de campagne


 This bread requires almost no kneading (less than 2 minutes) and will take you very little overall time to prepare. Most of the work is done by the dough itself, just sitting there. After experimenting with many different variations of sourdough bread, I've settled with this combination of three flours, which is light, gives a lovely crust, and tastes fantastic. Although it's a type of sour dough, it doesn't taste sour at all. It uses no yeast, but you will need a fresh white flour starter instead

The Dough: 
White sourdough starter
White flour
Wholemeal flour
Rye flour
Soy grit
Semolina grit

1. Mix all ingredients except the salt and semolina in a large mixing bowl, first with a wooden spoon, then briefly by hand until the mix is homogeneous.

2. Place the ball of dough in a clean bowl brushed with a tablespoon of oil

3. Cover the bowl with a wet towel and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes

4. Place the dough on a clean surface (no flour) and stretch it gently, avoiding tears, until it covers an area of about 50x50cm.

5. Sprinkle 15-20g of salt (depending on preference) over the stretched dough

6. Roll up the dough like a swiss roll, then fold it in thirds in the other direction (90 degrees to the direction you rolled it).

7. Knead the dough by hand for a minute or two, or until you can no longer feel grains of salt with your hands.

8. Place the dough in the oiled bowl again, cover with a wet towel and leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours (bulk proofing). Ideal temperature is 22 degrees. Proof for longer if the temperature is lower, for less time if the temperature is higher.

9. Knock-back: place the dough on a clean surface (no flour) and stretch it gently, avoiding tears, until it forms a 50x50cm square. Fold it in thirds in one direction, seal the edges, then fold in thirds in the other direction, again sealing the edges.

10. Place the dough in the oiled bowl again, cover with a wet towel and leave at room temperature for a few hours.

11. Shaping: Prepare 3 cereal bowls, preferrably ceramic and large, by wetting them with a wet towel (not running water), then sprinkling a generous amount of semolina grit in them. It should adhere to the bowl's entire inner surface. This will prevent the proofed dough from sticking when you place it on the baking sheet.

12. Place the dough on a clean surface, and cut it with a large knife into three balls of roughly equal weight.

13. Using a counter-clockwise movement, roll each ball of dough into a sphere by cupping your hands around them, keeping your hands in constant contact with the dough. This works best if the dough is slightly sticky. Don't do this for too long, the aim is to give a rough shape. Leave the balls on the counter, covered with a wet towel, for 10-20 minutes.

14. Stretch each ball in one direction only, to about twice its original length, then fold in thirds. Turn the dough by 90 degrees, then pinch the top fold like an envelope, to seal the fold into the centre. Turn the dough around, and repeat with the other fold. Now turn the dough upside down (seal side down), and use the edges of both hands to stretch the dough's upper surface and seal it underneath, until the ball is a nice, smooth sphere. There are some great tutorials on youtube for shaping, you'll find that more useful than following these text instructions!

15. Place each dough ball seal side up in the prepared cereal bowls (see step 11), cover with a wet towel and place in the fridge over night. This step is optional, but it will enhance the flavour without going sour. Otherwise you can go straight to step 16.

16. Leave the dough balls to proof at room temperature until they no longer spring back when you prod them with your finger. If the dough is sticky, first cover your finger with flour. This stage can take between 1 to 4 hours, depending on the initial temperature of the dough and on the room temperature.

17. Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature, with a rack at middle height. Wait for the oven to reach that temperature (if electric, the thermostat light should be off).

18. Turn the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Do this carefully to avoid deflating the dough. Use a lame or a very sharp knife to make shallow slices into the top of the dough, to allow it to rise further. You can be creative here, but be quick, the longer you wait, the more the dough will collapse. You may need to bake each bread individually, I usually bake two at a time.

19. Place the baking sheet in the oven, quickly spray the edges of the oven with water (check that this is safe to do, you don't want to spray straight into the fan or heating element), or place water in the fat tray at the base of the oven. Then quickly close the oven door before too much heat escapes, and bake for 20 minutes.

20. Open the oven and quickly turn the loaves upside-down, to help them bake more evenly. This is optional.

21. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, depending on how dark you want the crust.

22. Remove from the oven and let to cool completely on a rack before cutting. It's very important not to cut until cool, otherwise the moisture will escape and your bread will go stale much more quickly.

23. You can enjoy your crusty fresh bread. Or, you can freeze your bread for up to 2 months, which can then be defrosted and slightly warmed up in the oven.

14 users have voted.


TusharNijWij 2014 January 15
Hi - I really like the simplicity of this recipe. Beautiful! We use a Pate Fermentee in our recipe to help develop the flavour thoroughly. Pâte Fermentée:280g Strong Bread Flour.3/4 tsp of Salt1/2 tsp if Yeast170g of Water Pain de Campagne:All Pâte Fermentée from above:220g Strong Bread Flour45g Wholewheat flour3/4 tsp Salt1 tsp Yeast170g Water Regards T

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