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Traditional Pain de Campagne Recipe (Country Bread)

Updated on April 30, 2015
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Country Bread

Pain de Campagne translated means: Farmhouse or 'Countryside Bread'.

This bread's origins are centuries old. Most rural French villages would have at least a communal oven and each family would bake their daily (or more likely weekly) bread together on the same day. Hence the name 'Country Bread'.

Stone milled flour has been around for thousands of years, in fact it was the only way to mill grain into flour until modern times. Now stone ground flour is the more expensive kind, and much better it is all round! As stone grinding produces less heat than industrial grinding none of the goodness is baked away! In the past, the problem with flour was that all in all, stone grinding left much of the bran and germ (the outer part of grain) in tact; throw in a bit of ground and chipped stone and you have a lot of tooth aces! So the villages would do their best to filter as much of the bran, germ and stone as possible.

Techniques for dividing the endosperm (white flour) from the rest of the grain were not as effective as today; henceforth the advent of this recipe. In centuries past the bran and germ amounted to at least 10% - 20% of the white flour, but they didn't have a choice. These days we can remove the bran and germ very effectively, so we add the wholemeal back into this predominantly white flour recipe.

Apart from the mix of wholemeal and white flours in Pain de Campagne, the other distinguishing feature of the bread is the square cuts to the top of the loaf.

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 hours 20 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 2 hours 50 min
Yields: 1 Medium Loaf

Alternatively...

... You can add wholemeal (Wheatgerm) wheat flour if you prefer? I love the taste of Rye flour, but it does make a slightly denser bread.

Ingredients

  • 100 Grams Stone Ground Rye Flour
  • 400 Grams Strong White Flour
  • 300 Grams Water, (Do not warm)
  • 10 Grams Salt
  • 5 Grams Easy Bake Yeast, (Or a sachet up to 7 Grams)
  • 50 Grams Butter
  • Extra Rye Flour to Dust

How to get a mature flavour

In most bread recipes you will be asked to add warm water to your dough, but for my Pain de Campagne recipe we don't do this. When we add warm water to yeast it gives the yeast a head start. By adding water straight from the tap; we keep the yeast a little more slow and sluggish; the down side is that the proving time will be longer; the benefit of that is; we get a more mature tasting flavour from our loaf.

Another little trick which actually saves some time is to allow the dough to prove in the open air for some of the rising period. This allows a thin layer of skin to form, which when kneaded and incorporated back into the dough adds further to the maturity and complexity of the flavour.


Since the original recipe goes back centuries I feel that doing this, makes it that little bit more distinguished from other loaves.

Rubbing In
Rubbing In | Source
Kneading
Kneading | Source
Shaped Dough (Round)
Shaped Dough (Round) | Source
Square cut top
Square cut top | Source

Recipe

  1. Measure out and mix the two flours in a mixing bowl, before measuring out the salt, yeast, butter and water. Keep the rest seperate.
  2. Add the diced, room temperature butter to the flour, and 'rub in' until the ingredients are mixed fully and the flour resembles the texture of fine bread crumbs.
  3. Next add the salt and mix thoroughly with the flour. Do the same with the yeast, but only once the salt is thoroughly incorporated first.
  4. Make a hole, or a well in the centre of the dry mix, then add the water. Now begin to collapse the flour either side of the hole. It will take a minute or two but mix with your hands until the water and dry ingredients are fully mixed together. You now have your dough.
  5. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead thoroughly for at least 10 minutes. If you want to ensure a lighter texture then carry on for another 2 minutes after this.
  6. Shape the dough into a neat round by scooping your hands around and under the kneaded dough together whilst turning it. Repeat this and you should get a tight, smooth shape. Now put it back in the mixing bowl to prove, covering the bowl tightly with cellophane. After one hour of proving remove the cellophane and allow to prove for at least an additional 20 minutes (allowing a skin to form) or until you know the dough has doubled in size.
  7. Once doubled in size push down on the dough to 'knock back'. This releases the air trapped inside by the active yeast. Knead the dough for a further 3 - 4 minutes to ensure the skin is fully incorporated into the dough.
  8. Shape the dough once more, by scooping and turning as before. This time transfer to a clean, oiled (or covered by a silicone sheet) baking tray. This time cover the dough with a damp tea towel; and allow to double in size again.
  9. After 40 minutes of proving remove the towel and carefully make four straight cuts about two thirds of the way up the dough to make a square. Now turn the oven on to fully preheat. This should take around 20 minutes, so the dough will be ready at the same time as the oven. Ensure you have a spare baking tray resting at the bottom of the oven when turned on.
  10. Once the oven is hot and the dough is fully proved, get a jug ready with some cold water. Gently put the baking tray with the dough into the oven and then quickly pour a splash of the water onto the spare baking tray, before closing the oven door immediately. (This will steam and create a crustier and lighter loaf) Bake for 10 minutes before briefly turning to ensure an even colour. Bake for a further 15 minutes before removing from the oven. (Never disturb or adjust the heat of bread dough in the first 10 minutes of baking)
  11. After the 25 minute bake and using an oven glove tilt the loaf on its side and tap the underneath with your finger. If it sounds completely hollow it is ready, if you are in doubt give it another 5 minutes, just in case. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  12. Leave on a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes minimum before slicing. Enjoy!

Extras!

The French peasants would have occasionally added extras to their loaves, so why not try it yourself? I would advise using a fresh herb to keep it authentic, Try:

  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Coriander

Just remember to destalk and knead in after the first rising period.

4.1 stars from 11 ratings of Matts Pain de Campagne
I like to dust the top of the square for effect before the bread goes in the oven, try dusting the whole loaf before cutting the top for another nice effect.
I like to dust the top of the square for effect before the bread goes in the oven, try dusting the whole loaf before cutting the top for another nice effect. | Source

Techniques

For most of the techniques used in this recipe, such as shaping the dough, rubbing in, knocking back and even kneading, you can find more information here along with another recipe for complete novices.

Comments

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    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 4 years ago

      A great recipe with excellent pictures. I am saving this one to try at my earliest opportunity.

    • Matthew Kirk profile image
      Author

      Matthew Kirk 4 years ago from Liverpool

      Thanks rjsadowski, let me know how you get on :)

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      A awesome bread recipe and so well explained !

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I love good bread and this looks delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Matthew Kirk profile image
      Author

      Matthew Kirk 4 years ago from Liverpool

      Thanks, I hope you try!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow this looks wonderful and awesome. I can't wait to try it.. I will share on facebook on cooking time .thank you for following me.. nice to meet you

      I am Deborah Brooks Langford on facebook

    • Matthew Kirk profile image
      Author

      Matthew Kirk 4 years ago from Liverpool

      Thank you deborah, what is cooking time? A FB group? Will add you! :)

    • TycoonSam profile image

      TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

      Excellent recipe Matthew. Thank you for sharing and for this detailed Hub.

      Voted up and useful.

    • Matthew Kirk profile image
      Author

      Matthew Kirk 4 years ago from Liverpool

      I used to have the same problem when I started out! Professionals use specially made razors. You can use an EXTREMELY sharp knife, but the best is a serrated bread knife. Don't worry about gently cutting into the same slash more than once.

      When it rises in the oven it should hide any errors!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      A great hub and I am saving this recipe in my recipe book.I shall let you know how I get on;it sounds and looks delicious.

      Eddy.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Excellent recipe...now you've made me hungry and my lunch is still

      3 hours away...lol Voted interesting and useful. John

    • Matthew Kirk profile image
      Author

      Matthew Kirk 4 years ago from Liverpool

      Please do let me know how you get on with it :)

    • profile image

      Vicki 4 years ago

      Got this cooling in the kitchen, looks amazing! After the first prove it smelt like beer- yum. Do you know any breads made with beer? Would be amazing with casseroles.

    • Matthew Kirk profile image
      Author

      Matthew Kirk 4 years ago from Liverpool

      You're best sticking to soda bread with your beer, Guinness is a classic but any good quality ale is good, lager can even be nice. And yes they are always best with stews or casseroles.

      There is a soda bread hub going up this weekend if I get my act together, so just follow the instructions replacing water with beer :)

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      hmmm....an awesome endeavor for someone like me. But...if I'm going to attempt it, this looks like a great recipe! Thank you!

    • Matthew Kirk profile image
      Author

      Matthew Kirk 4 years ago from Liverpool

      Anybody can do it easy peasy! Or try https://hubpages.com/food/How-to-make-The-Perfect-...

    • profile image

      sabine 2 years ago

      Why didn't you list the temperature to bake the bread at?

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is an excellent recipe with clear instructions and photos. I love the denseness of a rye loaf. I like that you use a longer proof time for bread with more flavor. I´d like to make this bread this weekend!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Matthew Kirk,

      I am always delighted when I see that Glimmer Twin Fan has shared a hub. She sure knows how to pick the good ones. This is a superb hub with some gorgeous images and a delicious recipe. I love making bread and when you make a recipe a personal experience as you have done with this one, it really talks to me. I will definitely be coming back to make this one. Definitely worthy of a HOTD - I hope I see it there soon.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Sally

    • Marilyn Fritz profile image

      Marilyn 2 years ago from Nevada

      Yum. I love the taste of this bread, and enjoy the recipe. The aroma while it is baking is overwhelming, making my stomach growl with anticipation of the taste. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

    • Matthew Kirk profile image
      Author

      Matthew Kirk 2 years ago from Liverpool

      Thanks all, sorry I'm a little slow to allow comments

    • profile image

      Rose 22 months ago

      I was following this recipe step-by-step and i reached the point where I was ready to start up my oven- when i realized that there is no cooktime in this article. after eating my bread im still not sure if i got it right.

    • Matthew Kirk profile image
      Author

      Matthew Kirk 20 months ago from Liverpool

      Rose; 11. says 25 minutes but it should be more clear perhaps; my apologies.

    • profile image

      Ann 8 months ago

      What temp should your oven be please

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