Braid-and-Wheat-Stalk Pain de Campagne

wheat stalk
braid around the oval loaf

This is a sad looking pain de campagne despite my best efforts. Worst bread I’ve ever made; I don’t know why and I did not see it coming. I used my good old starter (100% hydration levain using all-purpose and whole-wheat flour in equal weights) which was active and always reliable. (I use this starter weekly to bake breads of all flavors and ingredients, mostly the Tartine-style wholesome country loaves.) I did not follow Joe Ortiz’s refreshment schedule in Baking with Julia to make the sponge over a span of three days. Other than that, I followed the rest of the recipe closely. I figured this: I don’t have to wait four whole days and get “a loaf as flat as a pizza.” I was willing to give it one day for the experiment.

I don’t usually make white bread like this. My rationale for making this bread is to get my hands on shaping the braids and the wheat stalks. Shaping sticky bread dough (70% hydration) into delicate braids and wheat stalks are not all that easy or pretty. But I persevered.

If I have to pinpoint the culprit of this unintended flat bread, the problem could have been the oven temperature. 400°F to 425°F is too low, in my opinion. (The usual temperature for levain breads is at least 460°F.) There was no oven spring to speak of as the dough hit the oven. By all measures, the final dough was properly fermented and passed the dimple test before it went into the oven.

Well, another bread, another day! I won’t be making this bread again. Other bakers at Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) may have better results. Don’t forget to check out the blogroll there.

soft crumb but hard crust


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  • Reply
    Cher Rockwell
    March 2, 2016 at 2:24 am

    I plan on starting mine tomorrow. I was thinking about using my starter, but may go for broke and try to "wild yeast it".
    I thought your pictures of the results were lovely.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    From the looks of that crumb, it should have been a fantastic bread. So it was flat and didn't braid, did it taste good?

  • Reply
    March 6, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing your results with us – the photos do make the bread look good, even if flatter than you wanted. I don't have any starter on hand, but I'm going to try the wild yeast, and just treat this as a complete experiment.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    It tasted good as far as I can tell. They were gone sooner than I'd have expected.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Not a total fail. I got a decent picture out of it.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Looking at it as an experiment, you'll never be disappointed. I wonder whether this bread may have benefited from a sprinkle of dry yeast, as an insurance policy, if not anything else.

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