Pain De Campagne

French country style bread made with sourdough starter. Recipes for sourdough breads are often long winded and sound complicated.
Here I will try to offer some simple instructions that will enthuse you to give it a go. Don’t give up if its not perfect first time, bread making takes practice but is ultimately very rewarding.

The starter can be kept indefinitely and will improve in flavour the longer you keep it. If you have a period when you will not be making bread daily you can put the starter in the fridge for a week or more. After this period you will need to ‘feed’ your starter by throwing half of it away and replacing with equal quantities of flour and water.

This recipe will work equally well baking it in a loaf tin.

What to do:

On day 1
1. Make the starter with 200g tepid water, 200g strong white bread flour and 1 tsp of dried yeast. Mix well, cover and leave at room temperature.

On day 2
1. Make your bread dough with 500g strong white bread flour, 7g salt, 250g of your starter from day 1 and 200g tepid water.

2. Knead well until the dough is silky smooth. Cover and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size (this could take between 3 and 5 hours depending on the temperature).

3. Next knock it back to expel all the gas bubbles and then shape into a ball, rolling it between your two hands on the work surface to tighten the dough.

4. Leave to prove again until doubled in size (this will normally take less time than the first prove 2-3 hours). Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC.

5. Once your loaf has proved sufficiently dust it liberally with flour then slash it in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife or scalpel.

6. Put it in the oven and as you do, also throw in about 30ml of water into the bottom of the oven and shut the door (this creates steam which helps give a good crust). Bake for 35-40 minutes until you have a deep golden colour.

7. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

8. Finally, replenish your starter by adding in 150g strong flour and 150g water and leaving it covered at room temperature ready to repeat the process from day 2.