Week 59: French Sourdough

FRANCE: Pain de Campagne is a multi-grain French sourdough, made with white, whole wheat and rye flours. Back in the day, French villagers would bake very large loaves in communal ovens, which could feed the family for weeks. Some say scoring was a way to identify your loaf.

This recipe follows Maura Brickman’s method for Pain de Campagne introduced on King Arthur’s website (see video link below) whereby you can use your starter straight from the fridge. You don’t have to feed it the night before, and you don’t have to create a levain with an active starter. This removes two steps from a very long process.

Both bakers start the night before, having the dough ferment overnight, with the second ferment starting early the next morning. I chose to start late morning with the dough fermenting during the day, then put it in the fridge for the second ferment overnight, and bake first thing next day. Either way, it takes two days.

Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for a low ratio of whole wheat flour to white, but KA’s head baker, Martin Philip’s flattering blog post about Maura’s recipe, Don’t Be A Bread Hostage, bumps that up quite a bit. I went one step further and added rye. All three ratios are below, and they are all guaranteed to work.
  • It matters if you don’t have air conditioning in the summer and/or have a drafty, cold house in the winter, so I’ve included Martin’s suggestions on how to adjust the temperature of the water, and the amount of sourdough accordingly.
  • I like to sieve my whole wheat flour to remove the pointing bits of bran, that can sometimes tear the dough. It’s my homemade version of “
  • Be really careful when you mix the dough (especially if using whole grains) that all the flour is hydrated and there are no dry bits remaining. I start off with a wooden spatula, but then use one hand to mix and squeeze, so I can feel that the dough is fully hydrated.
  • I am usually doing other things while baking bread (namely #workingfromhome), and tend to lose track of how many stretch and folds I’ve done. It helps me to write them down, so I can tick them off as I go along.
  • Make sure to read all the way through both linked webpages, and then you’ll be ready to create a stupendous loaf!

This makes two loaves. You can easily half the proportions and still get excellent results.

IngredientMartin PhilipMaura BrickmanBreademic
Flour750g all purpose
250g whole wheat
900g bread
100g whole wheat
700 all purpose
200 whole wheat
100g rye
Water (90 degrees*)750g800g775g
Salt20g 20g 20g
Starter**40g40g40g

*Decrease to 65 degrees if your house is really hot in the summer
**Increase to 100g if your house is really cold in the winter

Here’s a sample schedule. If you start at 8:00 AM, the room temperature rest is during the day, the cold rest is overnight, and you bake at 10:00 AM.

Or, you can start at 8:00 PM, have room temperature rest overnight, fridge rest during the day, and you bake at 10:00 PM.

PrepStep + TimeRest
8:00Make dough (10 min)15 min
8:25Stretch and fold #1 (5 min)15 min
8:45Stretch and fold #2 (5 min) 15 min
9:05 Stretch and fold #3 (5 min) 15 min
9:25 Room temperature ferment12 hrs
9:25 Shape and rest in fridge (or on counter for 30-60 min first)12 hrs
10:00Preheat oven to 500 degreesBAKE TIME
10:00Score and bake @ 47520 min
10:20Remove lid10 min
10:30Bake @ 42510 – 15 min
10:45Remove from pot and cool in oven with door open
If you make your cuts cross all the way through, instead of stopping before they interesect, you’ll be a better rise.

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