Pain de Campagne

Blog Note: On Friday I mentioned that I will be moving Bakers and Best off servers soon, and that folks who have subscribed via the reader would need to resubscribe another way.  After doing some more digging with WordPress, turns out they will be able to help me with that!  So, the site will look different but you’ll remain subscribed all the same.  If you don’t see a Photoshop Phriday post in your reader at the end of this week, it means I somehow managed to mangle the transition, but am working to fix it!  Back-end web development has been like trying to learn a foreign language in another language I don’t speak.

I’ve written a great deal about recipes that I put off for long periods of time, but this one has to take the cake.  When I got Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice in the spring of 2011 I put a sticky note on the pain de campagne recipe.  And here we are four years later, me finally having made this bread.  I’ve done plenty of other things in that time, including start this blog!  Yesterday marked 3 years since I started up my little corner of the internet.


Pain de campagne is your very basic french country bread.  If you don’t speak French this should help with learning how to properly pronounce the name.  I have a very rudimentary understanding of French pronunciation rules and constantly have my wife, who speaks French, correcting me.  My first instinct is to say something that sounds like ‘panda campaign’ (save the pandas!) but that is horrifyingly wrong.  Good news is, you don’t need to be able to say the name to make and enjoy the recipe.  I already proved that when making Pääsiäisleipä a few weeks ago.

Pain de campagne traditionally has a small percentage of whole wheat flour and can be made using commercial yeast or a sourdough leaven.  The dough is exceptionally easy to shape so you have a lot of choice in what you do with it.  I opted to mostly make rolls with the bread and then also a few baguettes (not pictured).  Some of the baguettes I coiled up before baking, giving the finished product a neat shape.


Given the soft crumb I think this would make for good sandwich loaves, I’ve been making breakfast sandwiches with some of the rolls.  Part of that tender crumb and the great flavor comes from the pre-ferment that dough uses.  The night before (or up to 3 days before) you make the bread you essentially make half the dough and refrigerate it.  Even if you’re absent minded like me and leave it out on the counter overnight instead of refrigerating, things will turn out just fine.  Enjoy!


Pain de Campagne (Makes 10 rolls, or 6 baguettes)



  • 1 1/8 C (5 oz) bread flour
  • 1 1/8 C (5 oz) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 3/4 C water

Main Dough

  • All of the pre-ferment
  • 1 3/4 C (8 oz) bread flour
  • 1/3 C (1.5 oz) whole wheat or rye flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C water


The night (or up to 3 days before) before you intend to bake the bread make the pre-ferment.  Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and knead on medium speed for 4 minutes.  If kneading by hand it will take 6-7 minutes.  The dough will be tacky and soft. but not sticky, when done.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.  After 1 hour knead lightly to degas, then return to the bowl and cover again.  Refrigerate overnight or until ready to make the final dough.

Remove the pre-ferment from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough.  Cut it into about 10 small pieces and let sit covered on a floured surface for 1 hour to warm up.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine all ingredients and knead for 6 minutes on medium speed.  If kneading by hand allow 8 to 10 minutes.  The dough should be soft and pliable, and able to be stretched thinly.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover.  Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into desired number of pieces based on what you want to make.  The dough will be enough to make 6 baguettes, 10 dinner rolls, 3 medium loaves, or some combination of those.

Shape the dough as desired and let rise until nearly doubled on sheet pans covered in plastic wrap.  This should take about 1.5 hours.

While the dough is rising preheat oven to 500° F and place a cake pan on the lower rack (or oven floor if possible).  When the dough has risen place in the preheated oven and drop 4-5 ice cubes in the cake pan.  Shut the door and lower temperature to 450° F.  The steam will help the dough rise more in the oven while baking.

Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pans for even baking.  Bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the bread is a rich golden brown.  Baguettes and rolls will need slightly less time, while loaves will need a bit more.

Recipe courtesy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice



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