A very straight forward and traditional Pain de Campagne, made with the aid of a poolish but using (as little as possible) instant dry yeast rather than a sour dough starter for added simplicity. The result is a golden loaf, very light and 'springy', with a good bubbly texture and superb taste. A few tricks used: both the poolish and the dough were placed to raise sitting on a raised grill on top of the range (measured temperature of 25 degrees), and a bowl of water was placed inside the oven before baking, removed then 10 minutes after the loaf was placed in the oven.
For the Poolish:
240g lukewarm water
150g Traditional Organic White flour
30g Stoneground Organic Wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp instant yeast
For the Dough:
all the poolish
240g lukewarm water
480g Traditional Organic flour
1/2 instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt
At least 6 hours before baking - or overnight, for up to 16 hours for a tastier loaf - make the poolish. Mix all the dry ingredients in a non metal bowl, then add the water. Mix well. Cover with cling film and leave to mature. It will grow into a very bubbly batter.
To make the dough. Add the luke warm water to the poolish and mix well with a fork. In another bowl (or in the mixer bowl if using), mix 3/4 of the flour with all the dry ingredients. Add the diluted poolish and mix well. Now leave to stand for 10 to 15 minutes - this gives the flour time to absorb the water, making the dough more elastic and easier to handle, without the need to add too much flour.
Start kneading while adding the rest of the flour a bit at the time, only adding how much it takes to make a soft dough. You can knead by hand for about 10 to 12 minutes or, if using a mixer with a dough attachment, knead for 4 minutes at speed 1, rest the dough for 2 minutes, then knead again for another 4 minutes, again at speed 1.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with oiled cling film and a towel on top, and let it raise in a warm place until nearly doubled. The time required will vary between one to two hours, depending on temperature.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and deflate gently, being careful not to knock out all the air as this is essential to form the bubbly texture of French bread. I do this by handling it always very carefully, folding the dough onto itself once, then lifting it and making sure that it forms a smooth surfaced round shape with the right tension and all seams underneath.
Place the dough onto a flour dusted baking sheet and leave to rise again, covered with greased cling film. In the meantime place a bow of water at the bottom of your oven and turn the temperature to max. Within 45 to 90 minutes it will be puffy and about 50% larger and ready to go into the oven. Do not over proof or it will go flat! Dust liberally with flour and slash the top with a grignette.
Place on the middle rack of the oven and turn the temperature down to 200-220 degrees, after about 10 minutes of baking remove the water bowl. Bake for about 25 to 30 minute in total. If you have a digital thermometer you might check that the inside of the loaf has reached at least 190 degrees. Alternativelly, use the traditional method of knocking it on the bottom to check whether it is cooked.
Added by: Alex Carracher
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The Shipton Millers