Campagne is a “traditional country loaf” made in France. Its crust is dark and thick, almost caramelized, and dusted with flour. A certain French philosopher, who I happen to admire not only for his Meditations but for his persistent Zooey Deschanel haircut, as very few men can pull off bangs, once wisely said this: “Wonder [is] the first of all the passions.” He should have stopped there because he goes on to say we should do everything we can to rid ourselves of it, no doubt in favor of some boondoggle like Reason or Knowledge. If wonder was the only passion I had, it would be enough. Each time I mix together the grindings of wheat and water and watch the sludge leaven with a little help from my microbial friends, the result astounds me. The resurrection of the ordinary in a humble country loaf is a wondrous sight.
Pain de Campagne Sur Poolish
Sponge-Method Country-Style French Bread
Adapted from The Village Baker
1 cup sourdough starter
1 ½ cups water
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup rye flour
½ cup wheat flour
1 cup starter
1 ¼ cup water
All of the Poolish from previous step
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
The next day, make the dough combining the two flours and mixing flour in vigorously with a wooden spoon for 50 strokes. Add the salt almost last, and turn the dough out onto a floured table to knead for 5 minutes until satiny. Let dough rise in an oiled bowl until doubled.
Shape into a round (boule) and set it to proof in a banneton (shallow basket lined with a floured dish towel). Let rise for 1 to 2 hours. Slash the loaf with a razor 3 or 4 times. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and slide loaf onto a baking stone. Immediately turn the oven temp down to 400, and bake for 60-70 minutes.
5 stars, absolutely. I will make this again and again. Get a Big Bowl, because this has a lot of rising power and can be as humongous as you desire. Mine hit the roof of the oven, which was a first for me, and thankfully did not catch fire. This will provide lovely accompaniment to your soups for weeks—and quite healthy! The crust is the best part–be sure to also look under your loaf with wonder: