Posts Tagged ‘Pain de Campagne’

I’m feeling a tad guilty.

I was so excited about having a cottage loaf bake-off, that I forgot to mention how tricky the little buggers are to make.  I’ve managed to occasionally produce a passable sourdough loaf, but prior to today, all my attempts with commercial yeast have yielded amorphous blobs.  Like this one..

Since most people don’t use sourdough starters, I’ve been experimenting to find a yeasted version that would work in this unusual shape.

Tah-dah!  This wonderful recipe, from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, produces a full-flavoured, well-defined cottage loaf.  It requires some preparation the night before, but this extra step infuses the dough with a delicious complexity lacking in most commercial yeast breads.

I’ve also picked up a very clever trick from Mr Reinhart.  By brushing the bottom layer with a little oil before joining the top layer on, it’s easier to achieve a clear separation of storeys, rather than the spaceship-shaped lump above.

Without further ado, here is my pain de campagne de cottage loaf

Preferment (made the night before):

  • 140g (5oz)  plain (all purpose) flour
  • 140g (5oz) bread or bakers flour
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon instant (dried) yeast
  • 170g (6oz) water, at room temperature

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flours, salt and yeast.  Add the water and mix to a sticky dough.   Scrape off your fingers and cover the dough, letting it rest briefly (about 10 minutes).

2.  On a lightly oiled bench, knead the dough briefly.  As the dough is quite sticky, it’s best to use the lift, slap and fold method (see video below) rather than pummeling the dough with the heel of your hand.

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it rest at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until it swells to about 1½ times its original size.

4. Knock the air out of the dough, then place the preferment into an oiled container and cover with cling film (or a lid) and store in the fridge overnight.

Pain de Campagne:

  • All the preferment prepared above
  • 225g (8oz) bread or bakers flour
  • 45g (1.5oz) rye or whole-wheat flour (I used rye)
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant (dried yeast)
  • 170g (6oz) water, at room temperature

1.  Remove the preferment from the fridge 1 hour before making the dough.  Cut it into pieces with a knife or pastry cutter, and place them in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the water and yeast, and stir together.  Now add the flours and salt.  Mix together with a spatula initially, then get your hand into the dough and squelch it all together, until well combined.  Scrape off your hands,  cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.

3.  Turn the rested dough onto a lightly oiled bench and knead briefly, until smooth.  It shouldn’t take too long if you’ve let it rest first.  I use the lift and slap French method of kneading, as described in the basic bread tutorial.

4. Oil the scraped out mixing bowl, and return the dough to it.  Cover with cling film and allow the dough to rise for about 1½ hours at room temperature. If it rises too fast, knock the air out of the dough halfway through.  Reinhart’s recipe specifies letting the dough prove for 2 hours, but mine was rising too quickly for that.  Once the final dough is double its original size, it’s good to go.

5.  Preheat the oven to maximum, and place a pizza stone in to heat up, if you’re using one. Turn the dough onto a lightly oiled bench, and divide it into two pieces – one approximately 600g and the other 300g.  Shape both of these into tight balls.

6.  Place each ball on a sheet of parchment paper, cover  loosely (I use a large plastic cake box) and allow to rise for about 15 minutes.  Brush the bottom layer with a little oil, then cut a cross in the top of the dough.  Cut a similar cross on the bottom of the smaller ball, and place it on the top of the larger one.  Now push your index finger or a chopstick into the middle of the loaf, working all the way down to the bottom and pushing outwards to “weld” the two layers together.  Cover again and allow the dough to prove for another 10 minutes or so, or until nearly double in size (be careful not to overprove).

7.  Slash the dough all around, cutting through both levels.  Mist the dough with water, then slide it into the oven (either on a tray, or with a pizza peel).  Turn the oven down to 220C (with fan), and bake for 20 minutes.

8. After the initial baking time, reduce the oven temperature to 175C (with fan). Remove the parchment paper, if possible (it’s not a big deal), rotating the loaf at the same time to allow it to brown evenly. Bake the loaf for a further 10 – 15 minutes, or until it’s baked through and sounds hollow when rapped on the base.  Allow to cool on a wire rack completely before slicing.

Pain de Campagne is a great recipe to have in your repertoire, and a very versatile dough for shaping.  Once you’ve got the recipe down pat, I’m sure you’ll find dozens of other bread shapes to make with it.

Your turn now – bring on the cottage loaves!

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