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Jan 9, 2014

Pain de Campagne

Pain de Campagne

Pain de Campagne, country bread, is a French bread typically made with a combination of mostly white flour with added whole wheat or rye flour. The leavening can be from either a starter or commercial yeast. This bread formula uses both.

Pain de Campagne

This bread is made completely by hand in an inexpensive 12 quart bucket (and I just bought myself a brand new shiny red stand mixer for Christmas!).  The reason for such a large bucket is to give you room to "stretch and fold" without removing the dough from the bucket. A very large mixing bowl would work well too, but I like using the markings on the bucket to gauge how much the dough has risen.

This is a photo of the dough after the first rise. It started out just above the bottom of the red line.

Pain de Campagne

As much as I love my new mixer, this bread is miraculous. Just scroll up and look at the first photo.... The crust is crunchy and thick, and the interior is incredibly soft and moist. It stays fresh for days, and is soooo good sliced and buttered.

Pain de Campagne

What's cool about this bread is that once you've shaped the loaves, they ferment in the refrigerator overnight and can be baked while still cold. I've never had much luck with that until now.

Note: The levain for this bread is 80 percent hydration with a mix of whole wheat and all purpose unbleached white flour. To create the levain/sourdough starter, I took 100 grams of my 100 percent hydration white flour starter and fed it two times with 400 grams of white flour, 100 grams of whole wheat flour, and 400 grams of water with the final feeding on the morning of the day before mixing day. With each new feeding, I started with 100 grams of starter.

Another note: To make sure that your shaped loaves are ready for an overnight rest in the refrigerator, begin the process for mixing this loaf around 8 a.m.

Pain de Campagne



100 g active sourdough starter
400 g unbleached all purpose flour
100 g whole wheat flour
400 g lukewarm (85 to 90 degree F) filtered water


740 g unbleached all purpose flour
60 g whole wheat flour
620 g lukewarm (90 to 95 degree F) filtered water
21 g salt, preferably fine sea salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
360 g of the levain


  1. In a medium bowl, feed your starter with the levain ingredients listed above. Stir with a spoon and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for about 6 to 8 hours.
  2. In a 12 quart tub or large bowl, whisk together the white and whole wheat flours.
  3. Add the water and mix by hand until just mixed. Cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Dust the top of the mixture with the salt and yeast.
  5. Add 360 grams of the levain to the dough. 
  6. Placing a bowl of water nearby for dipping your hands, mix the dough by hand by alternatively pinching it and folding it, until all of the ingredients are fully mixed, about three minutes. 
  7. Cover the container, and let the dough sit for 30 minutes. With wet hands, stretch and fold the dough from all four "sides" and flip it over, seam side down. Recover the container. Repeat 3 more times, at 30 minute increments. These stretch and folds help develop the dough's structure and gluten. 
  8. Let the dough rise until about 2 1/2 to 3 times its original size. This should take about 5 hours from the first mixing (step 6). 
  9. Scrape the dough out of the bucket/bowl onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half with a wet or floured bench knife. 
  10. Generously flour 2 proofing baskets. I used a mix of all purpose and brown rice flour. You can also use a mixing bowl lined with a lint free kitchen towel that has been sprayed with oil and heavily floured. 
  11. Shape the dough into boules, creating a taut skin over the top. Place the shaped dough into each basket, seam side down. 
  12. Spray the top of the dough with spray oil, and cover with plastic wrap or enclose in large plastic bags.
  13. Refrigerate overnight for 12 to 14 hours. 
  14. The next morning, remove the loaves from the refrigerator.
  15. preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with two empty covered Dutch ovens placed on the middle rack. 
  16. When you are ready to bake, cut parchment into two 9 inch by 15+ inch pieces. 
  17. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, place the parchment over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Repeat with the second loaf. 
  18. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the loaves and bake for about another 20 minutes, until the interior of the loaf reaches 205 to 210 degrees F. I usually move the loaves to a baking sheet after the first 30 minutes to prevent burning on the bottom of the loaves. 
  19. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. 
Recipe adapted from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza. It's an amazing book with fabulous illustrations of the techniques to make this wonderful bread. This book makes artisan bread and pizza incredibly accessible, and his story is a wonderful read.

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Would you like to comment?

  1. That looks like absolute perfection !

  2. I love pain de campagne! It was one of our favourites at school last year. We used to load four loaves on a huge peel and then slide 'em right onto the deck for baking. So satisfying! (And so terrifying at first…)

    1. I can relate to terrifying too. Four loaves at a time, wow. I feel like I'm in a high wire act with two.

  3. Very nice ! I just made Forkish's nine hour bread, and will bake it today again, with some changes ( adding whole wheat flour and some seeds ). I added some levain with the first try and will do so again. I really like his method with no kneading, just folding. Your pain de campagne looks fabulous :)

    1. Mmmm. That sounds good. I love the idea of seeds and some levain. The 9 hour bread is incredible.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Judy! (I'm pretty sure that's you!)

  5. Awesome loaf of bread! this type of recipe is my favorite, I love the resulting flavor from mixing different types of flour

    great job!

  6. Amazing job Karen. Amazing. A perfect, delicious-looking loaf. Being Greeks we really love a good, well baked bread and yours reminds as of some Horiatiko bread (village bread) produced traditionally in the country. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Oh that is so nice of you to say! I'll definitely have to remember to research Horiatiko bread!

  7. Just found your blog and I am enjoying reading it. I have Ken Forkish's book and have made bread from it 3 or 4 times with great success. The only thing that bugs me about his method is having to waste so much of my precious starter, even though I don't use as much as he recommends, I cut it down by half. After seeing your loaves I am tempted to try it again though.

    1. Thanks! I don't like all of the waste either, and have gotten away with not throwing it away. I've cut it way down with a lot of success.

  8. Wonderful!!! Your bread looks perfect!!!
    It sounds so crusty and soft inside!!
    Humm...your first picture make me hungry!!!

  9. Hi Karen, can you please let me know how much time you leave between stretchings?
    Thank you

    1. Every 30 minutes. Thanks for noticing. I'll fix that!

  10. Why do you have to make 1000 G of Levain when you only use 360g for the dough?

    1. That's a Ken Forkish thing, which I first followed religiously when I first made this. I'm pretty sure you can make less and do just as nicely. I plan to try again in the near future and adjust the recipe.

    2. Plus, you have more starter for more bread!

  11. Ok thanks. I usually keep a smaller starter & plan for about 15 g left over so this amount confused me. I'll just scale down the amount for the recipe to about 380g & use 360g for the recipe.

    Thanks for your quick reply! I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything :)


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