I found Pain de Campagne an unremarkable, but pleasant country-style loaf. It uses a very large amount of pre-ferment, and a small amount of whole grain flour (I used whole wheat, but rye flour is also acceptable).
The method is straightforward and familiar: mix the pâte fermentée the night before, allow to ferment, and then refrigerate overnight; then mix the dough the next morning using the pâte fermentée, unbleached bread flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, yeast, and water; knead, ferment, shape, proof, and hearth bake.
Pain de Campagne dough is supple and easy to work with, which lends itself to shaping it in a variety of ways. It must have been a busy week for me, because I skipped all the interesting shapes and made a standard boule with cross-hatch scoring. It came out of the oven a lovely golden brown. Its crumb was respectable, but lacking the large holes of other country breads. This was probably due to my mishandling it during shaping.
I suppose I found this bread a bit of a disappointment after two outstanding breads in a row (l’Ancienne and Multigrain Bread Extraordinare). Still, it was tasty and easy to eat. I’d like to try it again. It seems particularly suited to making dinner rolls, so that’s what I’ll try the next time I make this recipe.
See step-by-step pictures of this bread here.
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is a group of home bakers, scattered across the planet, focused on one goal: completing every recipe in Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, in order, and writing about our experience. Want to join us? Buy or borrow a copy of the book, open a big bag of flour, and plunge in!
That’s exactly what I thought: this bread was a little disappointing. Not bad, but not outstanding either. I was expecting something incredibly good because so many other BBA fellow bakers were raving about it.
So glad to hear I’m not alone!