Monday, March 26, 2012

Easy pain de campagne ~ japanese recipe

I love bread.. especially the kind that are crusty hard outside, but chewy soft inside.

Breads that give your mouth a good workout.. and the more you chew, the more robust the flavours gets.. finally filling your palate with a myriad of wonderful textures and flavors! That's why I like rustic breads like baguettes or french loaf, pain de campagne or french country bread, sourdough breads and other hard breads.

I've not made bread for some time now. Then I just made simple breads and bagels. But I'm currently in love with pain de campagne with cheese and apricots. And I want to make that!

But the pain de campagne looks quite quite difficult for amateurs and home baking.. Till I found sandier pastures's easy japanese recipe which she found in This is an easier method of making pain de campagne, where no starter is used. I was sceptical about how the bread could turn out crusty as it looked just like any ordinary bread recipe. And I'm sure since there is no starter, the bread would not have a sourish aroma or flavor, as all pain de campagne should have. Anyways, since it's so easy, I gave it a shot (^^)

Pain de campagne (posted by sandierpastures

350g bread flour
50g all purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar (consider using 1-2 tbsp, 3 tbsp is too sweet really!)
2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/3 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter, room temperature
80ml milk
200ml water

1. Microwave milk and water for 1 minute. Add lukewarm milk and water together. Mix gently with spatula.

2. Combine all dry ingredients together. Add to milk+water mixture. Hand mix with spatula till combined for at least 2 minutes or when dough has come together.

3. Remove from bowl and knead in floured surface by 'smash and knead' method ~ pick up dough, drop on board and knead. Repeat 200 - 300 times. (I can't do that. ^^||.. so I cheated.. and used the mixer with a dough hook and kneaded for 30 minutes).

4. Place dough in oiled bowl and cover with damp cloth and let it rise for 45 minutes.

5. When dough has doubled, punch the center to release air. (Doing this, felt really good ^^). Then cover with plastic wrap and rest for 15 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and oil baking tray. Prepare/put water bath or a mugful of water in the oven. Baking stone too if using.

7. Shape the dough. Put on baking tray/stone. Dust dough surface with flour. Place dough in the oven.

*** After 1-2 minutes, remove dough to cut a cross or a few slashes using a sharp knife. The result will be better that cutting across the dough before putting in the oven. IT REALLY WORKS!!!

8. Bake for 45 minutes. You might want to check if the sides and bottom of the dough has turned crusty at 25 or 30 minutes.. If not, take out water bath and continue baking. If top is turning very brown, cover with foil. It's ok to bake for an extra 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool. 

This really is an easy recipe. Guaranteed success. It really looks gorgeous, exactly like a rustic country bread should.. crusty outside, soft inside. But taste wise, something is missing - not quite the wee sourish, hardy, robust pain de campagne I like. Though the inside's quite soft, a little chewy and has a slightly more dense texture than normal bread, it sadly lacks the flavors of a real rustic country bread. Nevertheless, this is still very good version of a crusty top bread.. with a slight reduction in sugar! And it's so easy to make.. can't complain. (^^) Thanks for sharing the recipe, sandier pastures.

A note though.. the bottom and lower sides of my bread did not turn out as crusty hard as the top. So if you have a baking stone, please use it.. If not, then I suggest you cover the top with foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, WITHOUT the water bath. That's what I did, but the bottom was still not as crusty as I wanted it to be. Maybe I should do this step earlier, maybe after 25 or 30 minutes of baking (?). Or maybe get a baking stone??

Anyways, this is good practice. Maybe I should be more adventurous next time, and do the "real" thing, starter and all (^^).

A surprisingly good crusty bread after all (^^)! Just reduce the sugar..

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