Pain De Campagne - Impress-Your-Friends Baking Blog at - 124832

Impress-Your-Friends Baking

Pain de Campagne 
Sep. 17, 2009 6:21 pm 
Updated: Oct. 31, 2009 3:29 pm
Seattle has such great bakeries that I almost never bake my own bread. Last week, though, during a spate of cool weather, I got the bread-baking bug. I wanted a nice crusty European-style loaf with a long, slow fermentation to develop the best flavor. I chose the French Country Bread recipe. As I wrote in my recipe review, if I lived in the middle of nowhere, this might be the recipe I'd use for everyday bread. It had a wonderful spongy texture, mild flavor, and chewy crust.

I made the starter one night, and shaped the dough the next day. I made one loaf in a pan and one as a round, which I proofed in a Brotform, a wooden bread mold that gives the baked loaves a wonderful rustic design. This is a very wet dough, which is a good sign: as some of the great bakers I've worked for say, the wetter the dough, the better the loaf. It does make the dough difficult to work with, though: I kept kneading it in a big mixing bowl, without transferring it to a counter. (It was more of a flopping-the-dough-around action than kneading.) I transferred my sloppy dough ball into a clean well-oiled bowl to proof; by the time I was ready to shape the loaves, the dough had tightened up nicely.

Because I didn't have time to bake the shaped loaves that night, I covered them with oiled plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator overnight. The loaves got very slightly overproofed, but it was worth it for the convenience factor. (How can you tell if bread is over-proofed? Well, I'm not crazy about the puffy mushroom shape of my loaf pan-baked bread; I'd prefer a nice tall rounded dome instead. Also, when you cut a slice of cooled bread, it looks just a little bit denser down at the bottom of the slice—it doesn't have the same airy structure throughout the entire slice. Really, though, I was only critiquing it out of habit, the way one of my bread instructors would've looked at it…I thought the loaves were beautiful!)

I scored the loaves using a lamé, but a serrated knife works well, too. You score loaves both for a decorative look, and also because it allows gas to escape in a controlled manner—sometimes really active doughs burst at the seams and result in ugly misshapen bread. Score the loaves seconds before you put them in the oven—letting them sit out any longer deflates the dough. I baked the loaves on a preheated baking stone, and covered them with preheated cast iron Le Crueset-type pans to trap the steam that the loaves gave off as they baked.

I baked my bread a lot longer than the recipe specified; I just kept adding an extra five minutes to the timer until I got the color I wanted. Then, when I took the one loaf out of the loaf pan, it didn't seem firm enough or dark enough for my liking so I returned it to the oven and put it directly on the baking stone, without the loaf pan, until it was nice and golden and sounded hollow when thumped with a finger. I probably baked the loaves around 50 minutes or so.

I left them on the kitchen counter to cool. Our friend's dog, who was staying with us for the week, snatched the gorgeous rustic loaf and ate half of it while I was out of the room. O! The teeth-gnashing and woe! Our dog will steal butter from the butter dish if it's left on the counter, so together they make a good pair. At any rate, the bread was delicious and enjoyed by all—human and canine.
Pain de Campagne (French Country Bread)
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Loaf in the brotform: I dusted it well with light rye flour before putting in the dough seam-side up
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Risen loaves.
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Scoring the loaf with a baker's lamé, a razor blade with a slight curve in it.
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Baked loaf
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Sliced loaf: beautiful crumb structure!
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Another view of the French Country Bread.
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Dog-chewed loaf. Bad dog!
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Sep. 17, 2009 6:27 pm
(For more bread talk, check out the comments on my apple pie blog entry: CookingInVermont and I get into an in-depth discussion about one of my very favorite things...good bread!)
Sep. 17, 2009 7:15 pm
Your bread looks beautiful and I'm sure it tastes great! Thanks for sharing!
Sep. 17, 2009 9:37 pm
Ok, I am now on my way into the kitchen to start the French Country Bread, solely on your photos. I thought the recipe looked interesting, but your loaves are lovely. And let's face it, the dog would not have stolen it if it hadn't smelled good! Thanks for sharing.
Sep. 18, 2009 5:34 am
Wow, does that look yummy! I am so intimidated by yeast bread/dough recipes. I keep telling myself I'm going to make pizza dough or homemeade bread but never do. I guess I need to just jump in and do it, huh?
Sep. 18, 2009 6:51 am
That bread looks gorgeous! I'll have to try this recipe!
Sep. 18, 2009 7:01 am
Hey I'm psyched you put this up. Pretty sweet. I am hoping you can tell me what I should get for a brotform. Should I get a kasskönnen or a banneton by Matfer Bourgeat? The banneton is more expensive and made of willow while the other one is made of cane. Not sure of the difference really, if any. Of course, I want the more expensive one...silly snob appeal lol.
Sep. 18, 2009 7:05 am
Just give it a go Mel. It's not as hard as you think. I'm expecting many failures in my current ventures, but I'll definitely learn a ton by trying and failing. Learning by working with a pro is obviously easier, but the internet is such an amazing resource that the average joe can start to demystify some of their secrets.
Sep. 18, 2009 7:45 am
I wish they would change the main recipe picture to yours...the one that won the contest. Wish I had more time to blog some this morning but I gotta go clean and mop at my parents' house. Who says men don't clean?
Sep. 18, 2009 1:04 pm
Great story! I mean, BAD DOG!
Sep. 18, 2009 3:12 pm
Great blog! And that is a gorgeous loaf, too. I want to make a loaf of this in the worst way!!! Oh, the trials and tribulations of dog munching! I've been through the same thing myself. You should have seen what happened to my sister's carousel birthday cake...
Sep. 20, 2009 11:40 am
Trying to use this new brotform I got at KAF. I'm clueless. I know your not supposed to oil them, but I have no clue how the flour is supposed to adhere to the sides of the brotform without any moisture. I moistened it with water to get the flour to stick. Hope I am on the right track. What do you do? I have a sinking feeling that the sticky dough is not going to make it out of the brotform intact. I am hoping for the best. I really need to take a class at KAF.
Sep. 22, 2009 4:51 pm
Hey Doughgirl. How is everything? I quickly put up some pictures I took of 65% hydration pizza dough I made using Jeff Varasano's recipe. Would be interested in your critigue. Not sure how much one can critique without tasting but would love your feedback nonetheless. TIA
Sep. 23, 2009 3:43 pm
Hey, Cooking! I just answered your brotform question on your pizza blog--the pizza looks amazing, and I love the idea of the grilled crust, for smoky flavor, plus the broiler, for bubbly melted cheese!
Sep. 30, 2009 9:18 am
Hey Doughgirl. I think I've concluded that brotforms don't work well for high hydration doughs. I had a beautiful final rise on an 85% hydration dough that I'd been developing over the course of 3 days...starter, poolish, and all. Lovely, gorgeous holes and wonderful flavor, only to have the brotform take the risen loafs top off when I went to flip and bake. It was stuck like glue after a very liberal application of flour. Wound up with ugly disc of flatbread that had fantastic texture, holes, and taste. Was very bummed as it would have been the fruition of my carefully laid plans!
Oct. 8, 2009 6:55 pm
Oh, that's brutal! What a sad story. Save it for your 70 percenters, then...That's as sad as my dog-eaten 3-days-in-the-making loaf!
Oct. 18, 2009 2:42 pm
doughgirl thanks for the great inspiration. I am trying to find a selection of pie crust recipes and thought you might have one or two. i don't know what iam doing wrong but lately when i make a crust there is never enough of it and it is not
Oct. 29, 2009 4:51 am
Use half crisco, half butter. Crisco will provide the flakiness you seek and butter will give it a nice flavor. If your up to it (most aren't), use rendered lard instead of crisco for the flakiness. I freeze my crisco before cutting it in. And make sure the butter is good and cold. I use it straight from the fridge.
Oct. 29, 2009 4:57 am
Hey Doughgirl. Been really busy with tiling my kitchen. Brutal work that being that I'm not 25 anymore. Hands are numb from driving screws for my underlayment. And I have months of other home improvements ahead so barely any time to cook bake and cook =( Hope all is well.
Oct. 30, 2009 9:37 am
Mrspiffy! Sounds familiar--we're living in a construction zone, too. Shingling the outside of the house this weekend, and then (hopefully) finishing installing the radiant heat we put in last spring so we can actually have a warm'll all be worth it, though...right?!
Oct. 31, 2009 3:29 pm
Yes I sure hope it's worth it. I'm crossing my fingers my tile install won't fail. Saves tons of money doing it yourself though and you get to learn a lot along the way. We plan on doing our bathroom after this.
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About Me
I'm a professionally trained baker/pastry chef and also, as a friend would say, an intrepid eater. My favorite foodie character in literature? Ben Gunn, the marooned pirate in "Treasure Island": "You mightn't happen to have a piece of cheese about you, now? No? Well, many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese—toasted, mostly—and woke up again, and here I were."
My favorite things to cook
Laminated doughs. Elaborate dishes that require a day of prep work. Comfort foods, spicy foods, all kinds of food. (Although I am also happy eating a bowl of cereal.)
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