Pain de Campagne & a sourdough starter

Pain de Campagne is a French country loaf with fabulous staying power because of its sourdough origins. It is one of my favourites with it’s lovely sour smell and deeply crunchy crust. Once your sourdough starter is ready you can proceed with the recipe below. This is a rather firm starter, not the soupy kind of starter used in poolish breads. This means that your starter will be raring to go after a week, instead of waiting several weeks for it to develop some flavour.

  • Make a fountain with 3 cups of organic strong white flour (bread flour)
  • Pour 1 1/4 cups of hand hot water into the well
  • break up 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) of the levain, into little pieces and dissolve into the water, working the gluten and pulling in little of the surrounding flour until you have a wet and sticky, but cohesive mixture.
  • Add 2 – 3 teaspoons of maldon salt and work it into the dough.
  • Slowly work in the surrounding flour, scraping down your hands and the counter top as you go.
  • Once you have a firm dough, knead for about 5 minutes until it starts to spring back when touched.
  • Roll it into a ball and let it rise for around 8 hours at room temp. Make sure it is covered with a damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out.
  • By the time it has nearly doubled in size it will be ready to knock back and shape.
  • If you wish to save some starter for your next loaf take out 2 oz now and keep in a mason jar in the fridge. Unless you wish to make another loaf the following day, in which case let it sit at room temp for 4 – 8 hours then use it as the chef for the first refreshment. Watch your rising times as they will be approximately halved.
  • Flatten it out, then fold the edges in to the centre, pressing down with the heel of your hand to seal it.
  • Repeat this several times until you have a tight loaf.
  • Put it into a floured banneton (linen lined basket) for the final rise (8-10 hours)
  • When your loaf is ready to bake, heat your oven to 220*C, making sure you have a baking stone in it.
  • Turn your loaf gently out of the banneton onto a flat baking sheet dusted with semolina. The grains act as mini ball bearings in helping the loaf to slide off onto the baking stone.
  • Slash the top of your loaf with a razor blade or sharp knife to allow the bread to rise evenly in the oven.
  • Spritz the oven with water, and slide the loaf from the baking sheet to the baking stone.
  • Turn the oven down to 200*C and bake for an hour.
  • If the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base, take it out and let it cool.
  • If not, cook further in five minute increments until done.
  • Allow to cool fully before slicing and enjoying with some fresh salted butter

3 Responses to “Pain de Campagne & a sourdough starter”

  1. on 29 Jun 2008 at 1:53 pm Marla

    Gorgeous looking loaf!

  2. on 02 Jul 2008 at 7:19 pm african vanielje

    THank you Marla. As you know sourdough lasts a good 5 days, but this never seems to. I have just done a first refreshment for tomorrow’s loaf

  3. on 04 Jul 2008 at 1:55 pm YeastSpotting July 4, 2008 | Wild Yeast

    [...] Pain de Campagne ~ Vanielje Kitchen [...]

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