Pain de Campagne

Pain de Campagne

Daria Souvorova

4 hours
serves: Makes 2 or 14 inch loaves

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Pain de Campagne means country bread, and it is as varied as the French countryside. There are a variety of recipes, flour combinations, and leavening methods out there, but all seem to create a beautiful, rustic loaf that goes perfectly with a soup or a meaty ragout.

We spent the Christmas holiday with Nico’s family in the mountain village Ax-les Thermes in the French Pyrenees. Each afternoon, after hours of cavorting in the snowy slopes, we would have an open air picnic. Nico’s mom would pack cheeses, tomatoes, and meats, and hunks of Pain de Campagne picked up from the bakery in the morning. This bread was different than the country loaves I had become accustomed to. There was something other than bread flour in there. After days of eating it, I decided it was rye and made a deal with myself to give it a try when I got home.

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One of the varieties of Pain de Campagne we came across on our holiday travels!

Most of the Pain de Campagne loaves I have seen are round, but I loved the mountain breads. They were like fat, rye baguettes…so that is where I started. I used my baguette recipe and edited it to create a rather close replica of the beautiful breads I ate in the Pyrenees.

Have patience with your loaves and yourself. Do not try to rush the  rising process, but do not judge yourself if the loaves don’t look perfect the first time around. Odds are, if you followed the recipe, the bread will be delicious!

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I like to use a Japanese sashimi blade to slice slits into my loaves, I find most other knives catch a bit too much on the dough and leave awkward serration marks, but have also had great success with razor blades.

Your loaves are always best day of, but mine last in aluminum foil for up to 3 days. Freeze in foil if keeping for longer.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 5 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • oil for greasing dough
  • 1 cup ice cubes
      1. Mix water and yeast, leave for 10 minutes.
      2. Mix flours together and mix into yeast water. Leave to hydrate for 20 minutes.
      3. Add salt and knead for 8-10 minutes..
      4. Oil, cover, and leave to rise in cold oven with pilot light on to double in size. About 45 minutes.
      5. Remove to counter. Spread into a 10×10 inch square and fold as depicted in the images below (the dough photographed is a plain baguette, but the procedure is the same).
      6. Fold two sides of dough onto itself to make a 5×10 inch rectangle. Fold the new long sides onto the center to make a 5×5 inch square. Pinch the edges shut.
      7. Place seam side down back into bowl. Let rise for another hour in the cold oven.
      8. Take a clean kitchen towel and spread generously with flour.
      9. Divide dough into two sections.
      10. Spread each piece of dough into a long rectangle about 8 inch wide by 10 inch long.
      11. Roll into a cigar shape and pinch the seam. You will end up with a 10 inch cigar.
      12. Roll on towel to cover with flour. Repeat.
      13. Place on a cookie sheet prepared with a bit more flour or even better corn starch. Cover with another clean towel and allow to rise for another hour.
      14. Place a metal pie pan or comparable dish in the oven on the low rack, reserving the top rack for the baguettes.
      15. Preheat oven to 450°F with the convection fan on.
      16. Cut ¼ inch deep slits with a razor blade or very sharp knife. Place in oven
      17. Cut ¼ inch deep slits with a razor blade or very sharp knife. Place in oven.
      18. Place 1 cup of ice cubes into the lower pan you placed in there earlier.
      19. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until dark brown on the outside. Flip halfway if you do not have a convection oven.
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We couldn’t wait to give it a try, it was delicious!
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