Experience the irresistible allure of Pain de Campagne, a rustic French bread that captures the essence of tradition and the artistry of bread-making. With its crusty exterior and tender, airy crumb, this beloved loaf is a testament to the harmonious marriage of simplicity and complexity. Combining wholesome ingredients, time-honored techniques, and a touch of culinary magic, this is my Pain de Campagne recipe.
Step into the sun-kissed fields of the French countryside as you embark on an enchanting culinary adventure. From the moment the ingredients come together, a symphony of aromas fills your kitchen, promising a delectable treat for both the eyes and the palate. With every slice, the bread reveals its character—a beautifully caramelized crust that crackles under your fingertips, giving way to a delicate, moist crumb that beckons you to savor its rich flavors. This Pain de Campagne recipe unlocks the secrets to creating a masterpiece that will transport you to a realm of pure gastronomic delight. So, roll up your sleeves, dust off your apron, and let the magic unfold as you embark on this journey of bread-making perfection.
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History of Pain de Campagne
Pain de campagne, meaning “country bread” in French, has a rich and storied history that dates back centuries. This traditional bread, characterized by its rustic appearance and hearty flavor, has long been a staple in the rural regions of France. Its origins can be traced back to when bread was a fundamental part of the French diet, and each region developed its unique variation of pain de campagne.
The history of pain de campagne can be linked to the rise of artisanal baking in France during the Middle Ages. As agriculture flourished and wheat became more abundant, bakers began experimenting with different grains and techniques to create distinct bread varieties. French country bread emerged due to these culinary innovations, using a blend of wheat and rye flour to achieve its characteristic flavor and texture.
Pain de Campagne was a vital source of sustenance
Pain de campagne played a vital role in rural communities as a sustenance bread. It was baked in traditional communal wood-fired ovens, often shared among families or sold in local markets. The bread’s sturdy crust and dense crumb made it a reliable source of sustenance for farmers and laborers, who needed a substantial and filling bread to sustain them throughout the day.
Over time, pain de campagne gained recognition beyond its rural roots and became a beloved bread across France. It’s rustic charm and robust flavor attracted urban dwellers and gastronomes alike. Artisan bakers in cities began producing their versions of pain de campagne, adapting the recipe to suit the preferences of their local clientele while retaining the essence of the traditional loaf.
Today, pain de campagne continues to be a celebrated bread in France and worldwide. Its enduring popularity can be attributed to its wholesome ingredients, artisanal production methods, and the sense of tradition it embodies. Whether enjoyed on its own, as the foundation for sandwiches, or served alongside a hearty meal, pain de campagne remains a testament to the long-lasting legacy of French bread-making and the country’s rich culinary heritage.
The dough in this Pain de Campagne recipe
|2 small loaves
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The dough is made from a mixture of mainly bread flour and then a 1-1 mix of rye and whole wheat for that authentic taste. Let me stress that you will need very strong bread flour with lots of potential gluten. I love Caputo Manitoba Oro, but there are many other good ones.
The amount of salt is 2%, but if you like your salt, you can go as far as 3%, and it will elevate the taste. It uses 20% starter for a reasonable rise time. If you’re proofing much hotter or vastly below room temperature, you may want to change this.
90% hydration is not for the faint of heart. If you are new to sourdough baking, I suggest you use my beginner-friendly Master Recipe.
|whole wheat flour
|starter (100% hydration)
If you want to play around with the formula and change the quantity, hydration, or inoculation, you can do that in my Bread Calculator.
The conclusion of this Pain de Campagne recipe
In conclusion, the sourdough pain de campagne is a true delight in terms of taste, crust, crumb, and versatility. Every bite of this bread offers a remarkable flavor experience, blending the tangy essence of the sourdough starter with rich, deep flavors developed through slow fermentation.
The crust of this artisanal bread is a golden, crackling delight that gives way to a soft and chewy interior. Its aroma takes you straight to a rustic French bakery, evoking feelings of warmth and comfort.
The crumb of the pain de campagne is a testament to skilled craftsmanship, with its open and airy structure. It strikes the perfect balance between lightness and substance, making it an excellent canvas for a variety of toppings and spreads.
What truly sets this bread apart is its versatility. Whether enjoyed at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it brings a touch of sophistication to any occasion. From a simple buttered slice to a gourmet sandwich or a side to complement a hearty soup, this bread adapts effortlessly to your culinary desires.
In summary, the sourdough pain de campagne offers a delicious combination of taste, crust, crumb, and versatility. It promises to bring joy to your meals and elevate your dining experiences, making it a beloved addition to any kitchen.
Please share this Pain de Campagne recipe on social media
This is my Pain de Campagne recipe. If you like the recipe, please consider sharing it with like-minded bread lovers on social media.
If you make it and post it on Instagram, please tag me as @foodgeek.dk so I can see it. That would make me very happy.
Pain de Campagne
- To a medium bowl, add flour and salt. Mix it until everything is evenly distributed.
- Then add sourdough starter and water. Mix it until all of the flour has been hydrated.
- Then add sourdough starter and water and mix until all of the flour has been hydrated. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 1 hour.
- Do three sets of stretch and folds spaced out by 30 minutes. The dough will be very sticky, so wet your hands before you start.
- Put the dough into a Cambro container. Use a baking spray to ensure the dough releases easily when the bulk is over.
- If you are bulking warm, around 30 degrees Celsius/86 degrees Fahrenheit, let it rise 25%. If you are bulking at room temperature, let it rise 50%. If you are bulking cold, let it rise 100%.
Divide and pre-shape
- After your dough has risen, divide it into two equally sized pieces.
- Using a wet scraper and wet hands, shape them into rounds.
- Let the dough rest on the counter for 20 minutes.
- Shape each ball into a boule (round bread) or bâtard (cigar-shaped bread). Watch the video for a tutorial.
- Put both doughs into the fridge, and let them retard, from 4 to 72 hours. Your fridge should be ice-cold to ensure the dough stops fermentation.
- When ready to bake, heat your oven to 230°C/450°F with a dutch oven inside. Heat for at least 30 minutes.
- Grab a loaf from the fridge and dust the bottom with rice flour to help it slide off the peel. Flip it onto the peel and score it.
- Then take the top off the dutch oven, and put the loaf into the dutch oven.
- Put the lid back on, and bake for 25 minutes.
- Right before the 25 minutes are up, prepare the second loaf.
- Remove the lid. Move the other loaf out of the dutch oven, then put the new loaf in the dutch oven.
- Put the lid back on, and bake for 25 minutes more.
- Remove the first loaf from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
- Remove the top of the dutch oven and let the other loaf brown for 25 minutes.
- Then take it out and put it on the wire rack with the other loaf to cool off.