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Pain de Campagne - Country French Bread

violet

"I got this recipe out of a novel and made some minor changes. It is a yummy French bread that is worth the wait."
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Ingredients

5 h 25 m servings 419 cals
Original recipe yields 8 servings (2 loaves)

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Directions

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  • Prep

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  1. To make the sponge, whisk the 1/2 teaspoon yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Stir in the whole wheat flour until the mixture resembles a thick batter. Beat for about 100 strokes to form longs strands of gluten. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let sit at room temperature for 2 to 8 hours (longer is better for flavor development). You can also let the poolish ripen in the refrigerator for 12 to 15 hours, bringing it back to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
  2. When the poolish is ready, it will be bubbly and loose, with a yeasty, sour aroma. Scrape the poolish into a bowl and stir in the 2 1/2 cups water and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon yeast. Stir well to combine. Add the bread flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition, until the dough becomes too difficult to stir.
  3. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 10 to 12 minutes, adding more flour only when the dough becomes too sticky to handle. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead it for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should have a smooth surface and spring back to the touch. Shape the dough into a round and cover with a damp cloth for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat the surface of the dough with oil. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Deflate the dough and cut it into two pieces. Shape the dough into two rounds, cover them with plastic or a damp cloth, and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  6. Shape the dough into baguettes. Place a heavily floured cloth on a baking sheet, arranging a fold down the center to separate the loaves. Place the loaves, seam-side up, on the floured cloth. Dust the tops of the loaves with flour, cover with a damp towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk again, about two hours.
  7. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  8. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Gently transfer the risen loaves to the baking sheet, placing them seam-side down on the cornmeal. Make several diagonal slashes in the loaf with a serrated knife or razor blade.
  9. Immediately place the scored loaves in the preheated oven. Bake the bread until the loaves are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the loaves on wire racks.

Footnotes

  • Editor's Notes
  • To make this dough in a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachments and mix on low speed for 10-15 minutes. To ensure the gluten has developed fully, cut off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Flour your fingers, and then stretch the dough: if it tears immediately, the dough needs more kneading. Fully developed dough should form a thin translucent "windowpane."

Nutrition Facts


Per Serving: 419 calories; 2 g fat; 84.6 g carbohydrates; 14.2 g protein; 0 mg cholesterol; 726 mg sodium. Full nutrition

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Reviews

Read all reviews 66
  1. 78 Ratings

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Most helpful positive review

Wow, this recipe was quite a task. I have always focused on American style breads with a quick rise, because of the bit of sugar, or just a shorter yeast development. I started the "poolish" in ...

Most helpful critical review

I spent a good part of the day making this bread and it was not nearly as good as my sourdough bread which is a lot less work and tastes better.

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Wow, this recipe was quite a task. I have always focused on American style breads with a quick rise, because of the bit of sugar, or just a shorter yeast development. I started the "poolish" in ...

Great recipe! Thanks violet! I've made several breads before that have used a sponge starter, but this is the best (and easiest) I've tried so far. This will be my go to recipe for french bre...

The quantity of warm water shown in the Ingredients for the poolish (1/2 cup) disagrees with the amount listed in Directions (3/4 cup). To achieve a "thick batter" I opted for the 3/4 cup of wa...

Amazing bread! Perfectly spongey chewy texture. Love love love. After reading others' reviews, and having taken some official college baking courses, here are my tips: You can simplify the sha...

I love this bread. The poolish makes all the difference in getting a more aromatic, fermented flavor that you find in french loaves from the better bread bakeries. I make the poolish just bef...

Violet - Thank you so much for posting your recipe. This bread is exactly what I have been trying to achieve - great sour taste (but not too sour) and excellent chew. It bakes very large loaves ...

This was my first time making a poolish and an artisan-type bread. I loved the chewy-crisp crust and the texture of the bread. I didn't see the reasoning behind doing the second rise (step 6) ...

Excellent! I will continue to make this again and again. Light, airy inside, perfectly crunchy outside; it's my go-to dough. I don't do any of the 'resting' times, because I think they're a wast...

This is my favorite kind of bread: just flour, yeast, water, and salt. The staff must’ve fixed the instructions the previous reviewer mentioned; even so, I used ¾ cup water because I like a thin...