Pain de Campagne – French Country Bread

When you get the hang of making simple white or brown bread it starts to become addictive and aside from the process being addictive the flavours and textures you achieve are unsurpassed by shop bought pan loaves.

This recipe is the next step along in bread making as it requires the use of a ‘starter’ rather than a bought yeast either dried or fresh. Making a starter is essentially making yeast or growing bacteria for any scientists reading this – it’s easy, but takes a bit of time so if you have time to invest then it’s well worth it.

For the starter
200 grams of Rye flour or Wholemeal flour
100 grams luke warm water

For the Pain De Campagne
150 grams of Rye Flour
350 grams of strong white bread flour
300 grams of luke warm water
10 grams Salt
10 grams Sugar
1 Tbs honey

On a Sunday night mix the Starter ingredients in a bowl to the consistency of a thick batter, cling and leave in a warm place. On Monday night you should see some small bubbles have appeared – well done, you have created life!!! Scoop out half the mix and bin, then stir in some strong white bread flour to the same consistency again (water to loosen), cling and leave. Do this for 5 days and by Friday you will have a perfect starter that smells like beer! You can keep this process going for ever by the way and use it in all your breads.

Next mix the flour, salt and sugar in a big bowl, mix in the luke warm water and 2 Tbs of your starter and bring everything together into a ball then turn out onto your floured work top.

Get kneading – same as the previous recipes I have posted here. Stretch the dough, push it away from you with one hand whilst holding in in place with the other, then fold back together – continue this for at least 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and feels elastic. Form into a ball and sling into a lightly oiled bowl – cling and forget about for at least 2 hours.

The dough will have risen and will look real bubbly, turn it out and knead again for a couple of minutes – form into a  ball and set on a flat baking tray, cover with a light cloth and leave to prove for about 20minutes or until it resembles a wobbly jelly.

At this stage get it straight into a hellishly hot oven (full tilt) for 15-20 minutes – keep an eye on this bad boy as you don’t want it to burn! The slashes I made on my loaf add nothing more than decoration but in the baking world Master Bakers have their own signatures so the markings denote the Baker and or the region. Slash the dough jsut before you cover it for proving.

This is not chip butty bread 🙂

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