22 January 2013

Pain de campagne in a bag

We decided to try something new. I was at the supermarket looking for rye flour (farine de seigle) but I couldn't find any. I read on a French web site that farine de seigle is not easy to find unless you go to a health food or organic grocery store. There's one in Montrichard, but I haven't driven over there yet. The Montrichard organic grocery always seems to be closed for one reason or another when I get there.

Anyway, there at Dia, on the shelves with the flour, were bags of pre-mixed bread preparations, mostly for use with une MAP (une machine à pain, or bread machine). They contain levure (yeast) and/or levain de seigle (leavening or rye-flour sourdough), salt, and different flours, depending on whether you want to make pain blanc (white bread for a regular baguette), pain complet (whole-wheat bread), or pain de campagne (country-style bread, which is mostly white flour but with 10% to 20% rye flour mixed in). That's what I bought.

I figured for a kilogram bag at one euro, I couldn't really go wrong. That much mixture will make two loaves, baguettes, or boules. Sure, the ingredient list included an emulsifier and a couple of other doubtful chemicals, but mostly it was just flour and yeast. We'd see what the result would be. We wanted to make sandwiches, and I thought the MAP mix would give us better bread than the ready-made loaves of pain de mie (American-style sandwich bread) available at the supermarket.

The result was really good, actually. I mixed the MAP preparation with water in the stand mixer and let the machine knead it for 10 minutes. I added in a tablespoon of olive oil (which wasn't an ingredient on the list on the package) because I thought it might make the bread less dry. Then Walt kneaded the dough by hand for a few minutes before putting it in a bowl in a warm place for a short first rising.

Thirty minutes later, Walt punched the dough down and shaped it into a loaf that we could cook in a loaf pan. It sat again for an hour or so until it had risen enough to nearly double in volume, covered by a kitchen towel. Finally, it went into a 230º oven for 10 minutes. To humidify the oven — make some steam — I poured a cup of hot water into the oven pan under the rack that the loaf pan sat on.
After 10 minutes, I turned the heat down to 200ºC and poured in another cup of water, since the first cupful had evaporated. Thirty minutes later, the bread was done. We had to let it cool for half an hour before we could slice it. The sandwiches were pretty good.

This kind of bread preparation is a good thing to have on hand in case the weather doesn't allow for driving to the bakery or the supermarket to buy bread one day. Or if snow and ice keep the bread lady from coming up the hill to our house, for example, and we don't have any bread stashed away in the freezer. I think I'll try some of the preparations for other kinds of bread — maybe whole wheat (pain complet) or pain aux céréales (whole-grain bread).


  1. That looks great bread... lovely texture... and NO HOLES! Just perfect for spreading.
    Nowadays our "machine a pain" is now just a glorified dough maker. And I still knock back after it comes out... seems to give that bit extra to the texture.
    Pauline complains about the number of different flours and grains that I have on the shelves [but she loves the bread!]
    I use different blends of flour... but almost always include 100 to 150g spelt [épeutre] as it gives a better rise. And the base is one of the off the shelf strong flours... Lidl's Ciabatta mix is perfect for pizzas. Monday tends to be a fairly regular bread-bake day... no bakery!
    There are a lot of mini-moulins in Centre... you can get their flours at the farmers markets... and some of the weekly ones... Preuilly is good because Susan has the choice of what's on Angelique's stall [where I get all the grains, too] and one of the home-milled suppliers. Angelique has stopped coming to GP's market... probably because it was only us and a couple of others that used her... whereas, at Descartes on a Sunday, she has a very good trade.
    I am going to try the cup of water method.
    My tip to pass on is get the oven up to 250 centipedes... put the loaf in... cancel the oven and reset for 200C... bake for normal time... this is meant to replicate a traditional bread oven... some small artisinal bakeries apparently use this method regularly.

  2. Tim: Angelique isn't doing any markets any more -- it was too much as she was studying as well. You can still buy the flour from her if you order and pick it up from her place (Betz-le-Chateau) or you can go to the mill at Nouans-les-Fontaines.

  3. The bread looks great, and I'm sure it tasted even better.
    Good idea to use the ready mix bread packages. I think I will give them a try as well.

  4. We have a DIA near us so I will surely go and see if they have this mix, it lloks great, thanks for the pics

  5. Wow, that's a great price! Since you still had to mix it and let it rise a couple of times and knead it, was it really much different than making bread from ingredients on hand (I ask this as a non-bread-maker)? I've seen something like this on our grocery shelves, and that was the question I wondered.

  6. Virginia, I'd hesitate to use a packaged cake mix, but because I can't easily get rye flour I thought it was worth trying the packaged bread mix. And pain de campagne for sandwiches sounded good. If I want sliced bread from the bread lady, I have to order it in advance, and I'm not always that organized.

  7. We have to buy rye flour at the
    health food store too. Bread
    baking is so satisfying, I find.
    Yours looks perfect. Was the
    butcher able to make it up the
    hill today?

  8. Judy, it's the lack of rye flour sold separately. Can't find any. I wanted pain de campagne and I found the package. <
    Voilà. The bread was really good (it's all gone).

    Sheila, yes, the roads were wet but not icy or slippery today, and he did come by at noon. We bought beef and had a fondue bourguignonne for lunch.

  9. I'm not entirely certain about France, but in the US, one must be very wary when buying "organic" foods, because most are not!

  10. Starman, I think it's true in both countries that some if not many products labeled as organic or biologique are not, in reality.


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