Friday, June 03, 2005


Several people have remarked at the impressive sight of my latest loaf, as blogged about a couple of days ago. At least one of them has asked for the recipe. So, at the risk of this descending into some kind of Martha Stewart tribute site, here goes:

Pain de Campagne * (oh my god, it's French)

sourdough starter (cheat's method):

sprinkle about two teaspoons of dried yeast onto half a pint of water in a large bowl; let it soak and fall to the bottom. After about five minutes, stir in eight ounces of strong white flour with a wooden spoon. It should make a thick, sticky batter. Cover the bowl and leave it to ferment for at least two days, ideally three, stirring twice each day.

The bread:

sprinkle a teaspoon of dried yeast onto 6 fluid ounces of water in a small bowl. Leave it to settle, then stir it to dissolve. Meanwhile mix two ounces of Rye flour and eleven ounces of strong white flour in a large bowl, along with about a teaspoon and a half of salt.

Now take about half of the sourdough starter (about eight fluid ounces) and mix it with the yeast and water, then add it to the bowl of flours. Use the other half of the sourdough as a starter culture - instructions at the end of the recipe.

Mix everything together until you've got a nice firm dough. If it is too dry, add a little more water; too wet, add some flour. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough well for about ten minutes, stretching and folding until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Put the kneaded dough into a large clean bowl, lightly greased on the inside. Cover it and leave it somewhere warm for a couple of hours, then knock back the swollen mass and leave it to rest for ten minutes.

Shape the dough into a round loaf, place it on a floured baking sheet, cover it and leave it to prove for about an hour and half. At some point during this time, remember to switch on the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7.

Dust the loaf with a little flour, cut three parallel slashes in it, then three more at right angles to the first. Bung it in the hot oven for about an hour. It should be golden brown and sound hollow when you tap on the underside.

Place the cooked loaf on a wire rack to cool, and if you like chewy crusts, brush the hot loaf with a little water. Don't ask me how this works, but it does.

For the sourdough starter culture, mix what's left with a mixture of equal parts flour and water to the volume that you took out; i.e. if you used eight fluid ounces of starter, mix four ounces of flour and four fluid ounces of water together into a smooth paste and add it to the remaining starter. Put this in a strong jar (kilners are good) in the fridge. It will keep for a week of two, but will tend to separate into a doughy mixture and a clear yellow liquid. Stir this back in if it's not more than half of the culture. If it's half or more, then make a fresh culture using half of the old culture and half new water and flour mixed.

When making another loaf, get the starter out of the fridge at least twelve hours before you want to use it, and remember to pop the lid to release the pressure!

So there you go. Bread. The stuff of life.

* this recipe started off in 'BREAD' by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno, but I've mucked it about a bit since.


Blogger Trace said...

I have a bread maker. Does that count? *grin*

June 04, 2005 1:51 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Nothing wrong with a breadmaker. I've got one too. It's really handy when I haven't got time to make a loaf or I just can't be bothered. It's also quite good for kneading and mixing, then you can take the dough out, shape it and pretend you made the whole thing by hand.

June 04, 2005 2:05 pm  

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