Pain de Campagne - Country French Bread

Pain de Campagne - Country French Bread

violet 10

"I got this recipe out of a novel and made some minor changes. It is a yummy French bread that is worth the wait."

Ingredients 5 h 25 m {{adjustedServings}} servings 419 cals

Serving size has been adjusted!

Original recipe yields 8 servings



Amount per serving ({{servings}} total)

  • Calories:
  • 419 kcal
  • 21%
  • Fat:
  • 2 g
  • 3%
  • Carbs:
  • 84.6g
  • 27%
  • Protein:
  • 14.2 g
  • 28%
  • Cholesterol:
  • 0 mg
  • 0%
  • Sodium:
  • 726 mg
  • 29%

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

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  • Prep

  • Cook

  • Ready In

  1. To make the sponge, whisk the 1/2 teaspoon yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Stir in the whole wheat flour until the mixture resembles a thick batter. Beat for about 100 strokes to form longs strands of gluten. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let sit at room temperature for 2 to 8 hours (longer is better for flavor development). You can also let the poolish ripen in the refrigerator for 12 to 15 hours, bringing it back to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
  2. When the poolish is ready, it will be bubbly and loose, with a yeasty, sour aroma. Scrape the poolish into a bowl and stir in the 2 1/2 cups water and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon yeast. Stir well to combine. Add the bread flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition, until the dough becomes too difficult to stir.
  3. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 10 to 12 minutes, adding more flour only when the dough becomes too sticky to handle. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead it for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should have a smooth surface and spring back to the touch. Shape the dough into a round and cover with a damp cloth for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat the surface of the dough with oil. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Deflate the dough and cut it into two pieces. Shape the dough into two rounds, cover them with plastic or a damp cloth, and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  6. Shape the dough into baguettes. Place a heavily floured cloth on a baking sheet, arranging a fold down the center to separate the loaves. Place the loaves, seam-side up, on the floured cloth. Dust the tops of the loaves with flour, cover with a damp towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk again, about two hours.
  7. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  8. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Gently transfer the risen loaves to the baking sheet, placing them seam-side down on the cornmeal. Make several diagonal slashes in the loaf with a serrated knife or razor blade.
  9. Immediately place the scored loaves in the preheated oven. Bake the bread until the loaves are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the loaves on wire racks.
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  • Editor's Notes
  • To make this dough in a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachments and mix on low speed for 10-15 minutes. To ensure the gluten has developed fully, cut off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Flour your fingers, and then stretch the dough: if it tears immediately, the dough needs more kneading. Fully developed dough should form a thin translucent "windowpane."
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  1. 61 Ratings

Holiday Baker

Wow, this recipe was quite a task. I have always focused on American style breads with a quick rise, because of the bit of sugar, or just a shorter yeast development. I started the "poolish" in the refridgerator the night before in a bowl covered with a wet towel for the full 15 hours. I brought it to room temp. still covered for about 3 hours the next day. I had thought about using the Kitchen-Aid mixer, but I am glad I didn't because I got a good idea for how the dough was supposed to look and feel. I shaped one of the loaves as suggested and used a well floured coil bread basket mold for the other one. I thought the bread turned out very well in taste and appearance. I did have to bake it though for 40 minutes. When I sliced it, it had a soft center and crunchy crust and bottom from the corn meal. It was absolutely delicious! I have developed a new found appreciation for "artisan" style breads from this recipe. I just wonder what novel the bread recipe came from now?


Great recipe! Thanks violet! I've made several breads before that have used a sponge starter, but this is the best (and easiest) I've tried so far. This will be my go to recipe for french bread. I think using whole wheat flour for the sponge added a lot in flavor. I had to add about 1/2-1 cup more flour to prevent sticking. I added another 1/2 tsp salt because of this. I was also in a hurry so I shaped the bread after kneading and then baked after the loaves had proofed. About 5 minutes before they were done, I brushed the loaves with olive oil (since we like a more chewy than crunchy crust). Even though it did not have the additional rise, the flavor of the bread was still well developed, had an excellent crumb, and wonderful chewy crust. I made 3 loaves instead of 2 so that they would fit on my pan. A trick for great crusty bread, make steam in your oven. Before preheating the oven, place a metal pie plate or other type of pan on the bottom rack. After the oven is preheated and you've put the loaves in, pour about 1/2 cup of water into the preheated pan and quickly close the oven, do this again about 10-15 minutes later.


The quantity of warm water shown in the Ingredients for the poolish (1/2 cup) disagrees with the amount listed in Directions (3/4 cup). To achieve a "thick batter" I opted for the 3/4 cup of warm water. Right or wrong the end result was two very toothsome loaves of bread.