Pain De Campagne

Recipe from Kitchen Secrets by Raymond Blanc.

Of course you can buy your bread from your local bakery, or you can make it at home using a bread maker, which gives satisfactory results and a little pride. But this simplified traditional bread recipe is the real thing. The natural, slow proving gives character and depth of flavour, in contrast to breads that we find in our supermarkets, which rely on flour improvers and rising agents to speed up the process. Hopefully it will introduce you to an exciting and lifelong love affair with yeast and home-made breads, breeding confidence and knowledge, and delighting your friends and family… And another little secret: it is the best stress reliever, especially if you decide to knead the dough by hand.

Preparation: 30 mins, plus overnight fermenting and 2½ hours proving.

Cooking: 20–25 mins.

Special equipment: electric mixer with dough hook attachment, peel (optional), baking stone (optional), Stanley knife or razor blade.

Complimentary recipes: French Onion Soup 

MAIN Pain Campagne

Ingredients Required

For the dough starter/leaven
100g Strong plain white organic bread flour (*1)
100g Dark rye flour
5g Fresh yeast, crumbled (*2)
135ml Cold water (*3)
For the campagne dough
950g Strong plain white organic bread flour (*1)
130g Dark rye flour
15g Salt (*4)
22g Fresh yeast, crumbled
680ml Cold water (*3)

Cooking Method

Planning ahead

Prepare the dough starter 12 hours in advance. The bread can be cooked a few hours before serving; it can also be sliced and frozen. But French bread, with its wonderful crust, is at its best warm from the oven.

For the dough starter/leaven (*5)

A day ahead, mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to ferment overnight, i.e. about 12 hours at room temperature.

To make the bread dough

The following day, put all the ingredients into the bowl of the mixer fitted with the dough hook and add the dough starter. Beat together on the lowest speed for 5 minutes and then on medium speed for approximately 5–7 minutes to knead the dough (*6). Alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface, stretching and kneading it for 10 minutes or so. Test the elasticity of the dough by making sure that you can stretch a small piece between your fingers without it breaking.

For the first proving

Shape the dough into a ball, cover loosely with a clean cloth or cling film and leave at room temperature for 1 hour; it will increase in bulk (*7).

For the second proving

Divide the dough equally into four (500g portions) and shape each into a loaf of your desired shape on a lightly floured board. Place each one on a peel or flat tray lined with a silicone liner or non-stick baking paper. Cover loosely with a plastic sheet or a clean cloth to prevent it from drying out and leave the loaves to prove at room temperature for about 1½ hours until doubled in volume (*8).

To prepare for baking

While the loaves are proving, preheat the oven (without the fan) to its highest setting, 250°C/Gas 10. Slide a baking stone (*9) or sturdy baking tray onto the middle shelf and place a small roasting tin on the oven shelf below (*10).

To bake the bread

Dust the loaves with flour, then score lengthways at an angle with a Stanley knife or razor blade (*11), making the cuts about 2mm deep. Slide the bread onto the preheated tray or baking stone in the oven. Pour a jug of boiling hot water into the roasting tin and quickly close the oven door (*12). Bake for 20–25 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven (*13) and cool on a wire rack.


Kitchen Secrets

Recipe from Kitchen Secrets by Raymond Blanc, published by Bloomsbury. 

Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2011.

Photograph © Jean Cazals 2011.