Pain de Campagne is a rustic country style bread and a real favourite in France. When my French colleague said he preferred Pain de Campagne to French Baguette then I just had to try and make one. After a couple of experimental loaves I settled on this recipe. Its a lovely subtley sour flavoured bread with a soft interior and an excellent crunchy crust. For the best oven spring a single lengthwise cut seemed to be the best, just prior to baking, see pictures.
Pain de Campagne recipe
Ingredients and method for 2 loaves
100g Rye sour dough starter culture
350g white wheat flour (550)
Mix the water, flour and culture together, cover and leave to ferment for 12 hours.
All of the fermented sourdough sponge
400g strong bread flour (in germany 550)
150g wholewheat flour
200g water (~32-34 degrees)
18g sea salt
4g instant dried yeast
To make the main dough add the flour, yeast, water and salt to the sourdough sponge and mix by hand until well incorporated. If you are using a mixer, knead using the dough hook for 5 minutes and then knead and really stretch the dough for a further 5 minutes by hand. Alternatively, knead by hand for 10 minutes. Since this is a rather stiff dough I recommend that you lift up and slap down (rather violently!) the dough onto your work surface, then give it some good stretches, this really develops good strength in the dough. Then form into a tight ball and place in a clean oiled bowl, cover and leave to rest and rise for 1.5-2 hours, until at least doubled in size.
Turn your risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently deflate and divide into two roughly equal pieces. Shape into ovals and place, seam side down onto a floured baking sheet (or if you are using a baking stone, then place onto your bakers peel). Leave to proof and re-rise at room temperature for 1 hour or refridgerate and leave to rise overnight. Pre-heat your oven to 250degrees, at least 30 minutes before your loaves are ready to bake. Place a roasting try of water in onto the floor of the oven for steam. When your loaves are re-risen and ready to bake, make 1cm deep cuts into the surface, a single lengthwise cut allows for a great oven spring. Alternatively, be creative with your cuts. Bake at 250degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 200 and bake for a further 45-50 minutes. Et voila!!