This week’s instalment of D is for Dinner features Pain de Campagne, French bread that is traditionally formed into boules, although the dough lends itself well to many other shapes and sizes. 

Giacomo Panico, host of CBC Radio’s All in a Day, spoke with Hervé Chabert on Wednesday’s show. Chabert is the head pastry chef at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa.

The recipe he shared calls for the addition of whole wheat or rye flour, but some bakers will often use a mixture of both, according to Le Cordon Bleu.

Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa head pastry chef Hervé Chabert

Hervé Chabert visited CBC Radio's All in a Day on June 25, 2014 to discuss his Pain de Campagne. (Photo courtesy of Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa)

When asked to envisage French bread, one immediately conjures images of the long, elegant baguette, but for true French culinary purists the real French bread has always been la Pain de Campagne, it added.

Ingredients

  • 500 ml Warm Water.
  • 25 g Baker’s Yeast.
  • 250 g Levain (Starter Dough).
  • 420 g Bread Flour.
  • 50 g Whole Wheat Flour or Rye Flour.
  • 10 g Salt.
  • Additional bread flour for dusting.

Instructions

1. Start by making a levain, or starter dough. In a large bowl, dissolve 15g of the baker’s yeast with 300 ml of the warm water (max 32 degrees Celsius) and 120 g of the Bread Flour. Cover the bowl with a cloth and set aside in a warm place until doubled in volume. 

2. In a large bowl, dissolve the remaining 10 g of baker’s yeast in 200 ml warm water (again, max 32 degrees Celsius). Add 250 g of levain and mix until combined. Add the salt and then add the flour. Work until smooth dough forms. Add more water if too dry.

3. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in volume (approx. 2 hours). Punch down the dough and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a work surface and divide it in half. Flatten one of the pieces of dough into a circle. Fold the outer edge into the centre and press it down with the heel of your hand, turn the dough and repeat several times. Turn the dough over, cup your hands around the ball and move it in a circular motion.  Repeat the same procedure for the second piece of dough. Place on a clean baking sheet, cover and allow to rest until it has doubled in sized (about 1 hour)

5. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit (245 degrees Celsius).

6. Before baking, dust the tops of the bread with flour and score the top using a sharp knife.

7. Place in the hot oven and allow to bake until golden in colour, approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.