Sourdough FAQ Recipes

                    PAIN DE CAMPAGNE (Pain au Levain)
              from "The Bread Book", by Martha Rose Shulman
                             Julian Templeman

       This recipe is for French bread - not the stale-next-day
       baguettes, but the large, flat sourdough loaves with a hard
       crust and chewy texture called 'pain de campagne' or 'pain
       au levain.' It may seem a lot of effort, but it is worth it.
       This bread is very filling, has a wonderful taste, and will
       keep for up to a week if you take a bit of care. Ideally,
       this bread is made with no yeast whatsoever, but it can be
       difficult to get enough leaven from just the sourdough, so
       here is a hybrid recipe....

       For sourdough bread, you have to make the sourdough starter,
       or 'chef' about a week in advance. Once you have made the
       first lot, though, you save a bit of your dough for the next
       batch of bread, and so on.  On day one:

       90 ml water   115 g unbleached white or wholemeal flour, or a mixture

       Stir the flour and water together until smooth, cover with a
       damp tea-towel and leave for 72 hours. You can keep damping
       the tea-towel if you want. It should rise slightly, and take
       on an acidic aroma.  Tell others using your kitchen not to
       throw this rather horrible looking mess out.  After 72

              120 ml lukewarm water   170 g flour, as above

       If a stiff crust has formed on the starter, peel it off and
       discard it.  Stir in the water, and then blend in the extra
       flour. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead into a
       ball.  Return the dough to the bowl, cover with the damp
       cloth again, and let it sit in a warm place for 24-48 hours.
       Again, if a crust forms, peel it off and discard it.  You
       are now ready to make some bread!

       This recipe makes one large, or two small loaves. The rye
       flour is pretty essential for proper 'pain de campagne,' but
       the semolina flour can be missed out, and an extra bit of
       plain flour substituted.

       225 g chef, prepared as above. If using the      425 ml lukewarm water
       start for the first time, use the whole lot.     2 1/2 tsps active dried

       55 g semolina flour or replace with an   55 g rye flour
         extra 55 g unbleached white flour)     565 g unbleached white flour
       2 1/2 tsps salt

       As before, dissolve the yeast in the water in your bowl, and
       leave for 10 minutes. Then stir in the chef, and mix well.

       Add the rye and semolina flours to the liquid and blend in.
       Mix the salt with 500 g of the white flour, and then fold
       this into the mixture. By the time you have done this, you
       should be able to knead the dough.

       Turn it out onto a floured board, and then knead for 10-15
       minutes, adding the rest of the flour as you go. The dough
       may well be very sticky, so use a pastry scraper to help
       manipulate it, and flour your hands well.

       Shape the dough into a ball, transfer it to an oiled bowl,
       cover with a damp cloth, and leave it to rise somewhere warm
       for 1.5-2 hours, until doubled in bulk.

       Turn out the dough, knock it back, and knead for 2-3
       minutes. Remove a heaped cup (about 225 g) of the dough to
       use as the starter for your next batch, placing it in a
       bowl, and refrigerating after a few hours if you won't be
       using it within a day.

       Shape the dough into one or two balls, depending on how many
       loaves you want to make, and dust them with flour. Transfer
       the ball to an oiled bowl, cover, and leave to rise for 1
       1/2-2 hours, until doubled in bulk again. Now comes the hard
       bit - turn it out onto an oiled baking sheet. Don't knock it
       down, and try not to disturb it, just gently reshape it with
       your hands if need be. Cover with a cloth, and let it rise
       for 15 minutes while you heat the oven.

       Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200 degrees C/400 degrees F,
       putting an empty cake or loaf tin on a shelf near the
       bottom. Slash the loaf with a sharp knife just before
       baking, then put the loaf in the oven.... at the same time,
       empty a pint of water into the loaf tin, and close the oven
       door quickly. The resulting rush of steam will help ensure a
       good crust. Spray the loaf with water just after putting it
       in, and twice more during the first ten minutes of cooking.

       Bake for 45 minutes, or until the loaf is dark brown and
       sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Turn out and cool on
       a wire rack.  Don't keep this bread in a bread-bin; just
       cover the cut side with foil.