Pain de Campagne

by Janice on November 2, 2009


Time is once again rushing by faster than Canadian geese flying south for the winter.  Soon it will be Thanksgiving, and I will be wondering how I managed to age yet another year in what surely must have been the blink of an eye.  The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is more than halfway over, and bread baking has become an integral part of my life.  I purchase bread flour whenever the bin is half empty, in much the same way I keep stock of the household milk supply.  At least this year, on my birthday, I will be able to point to the photos of the loaves of bread, and say, “This year I learned how to do that.”  With all the intangibles of life (ahem, specifically, it’s nice to have something so solid!

The particular loaf you see above is a Pain de Campagne, in an épi shape.  This dough is known for being made into many beautiful shapes all over France.  It also traditionally has a small bit of rye or whole-wheat flour mixed in with the bread flour.  I used a light rye flour in mine.  The resulting loaf was rather dense, with a very hard crust.  After I’ve made all the breads in the book, I’ll try it again, since I think I baked it too long.  (I so wanted that nice caramel color that I ignored the internal temperature.)  And I am sure that my not-gentle-enough handling of the dough after the first rise is what led to the density.

This is another bread where a large amount of pre-ferment gives the bread a very complex flavor.  But I have to admit, the shaping was the best part.  I had no idea that a simple technique with scissors was all it took to make such a gorgeous loaf.  In fact, it was so much fun that I might find myself trying it again sooner rather than later!  (You can find the recipe here, but I obviously love the whole book!)


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Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge: Pain de Campagne — Pinch My Salt
June 15, 2010 at 2:52 am

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

mags November 2, 2009 at 7:36 pm

What a beautiful epi Janice! (wasn’t it fun snipping it?)

And happy birthday!

Cindy November 3, 2009 at 6:25 am

Wow, I’m very impressed with your scissor skills. I had the opposite problem to you. My bread registered done with the instant read thermometer well before it was golden brown. I took it out but felt let down that I didn’t achieve that amazing golden hue on the crust.

Janice November 3, 2009 at 8:34 am

Yes, Mags. I have no idea why using scissors on a sturdy dough like this is so much fun, but it definitely was! Maybe it’s that after all that slicing and scoring with a sharp knife, which sometimes tears the dough, the scissors made such a satisfyingly clean, crisp cut?

And thanks for the Happy Birthday!

Janice November 3, 2009 at 8:39 am

Cindy, I think we actually did have the same problem, we just did different things about it! I left mine in the oven long after the inside temp said it was done. I got the golden crust, but the bread was dry and hard. So it looked good, but wasn’t my favorite thing to eat.

Twitter: misterrios
November 6, 2009 at 4:55 am

Twitter: @misterrios

Amazing epi! It’s probably the best one I’ve ever seen, actually. The few number of cuts sort of lends it this magnificent simplicity. I can’t really describe it actually.

My bread was also a little dense, but it was incredibly crusty, so I could forgive it.

Janice November 6, 2009 at 8:34 am

Thank you, Daniel, what a huge compliment!

Twitter: ap269
January 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Twitter: @ap269

Wonderful épi. Mine turned out a little weird – I think because I made the cuts before the proofing instead of after. Yours looks GREAT!

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