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Pain de Campagne

sliced levain

Is there anything better than packing up fresh local food and heading down to the beach, the pond, or your favorite outdoor spot for a bit of fun? Is there anything better than opening up a basket full of your favorite cookies and sandwiches and pouring a big glass of lemonade while you sit back, relax and take in the view? The sounds of summer…crickets humming, birds chirping, children laughing and the faint echo of someone’s radio in the distance.
Summer. It’s short here in New England. That’s why we New Englanders get out and enjoy every second of summer that we can.

walden collage

To me, picnics capture the essence of summer. What could be more important to a picnic than fresh crusty, chewy bread?

I’m lucky. My husband is the bread baker in the house and does he ever make good bread. Just take a look at this beautiful rustic loaf and imagine it with your favorite filling.

slice of bread

 

As if the bread and outdoors weren’t enough. We came across this fantastic bottle of olive oil and had to buy it. Isn’t it great? The olive oil is beautifully packaged, looks like perfume and even has an atomizer for spraying the bread. It’s hilarious. How could we pass it up?

olive oil (1)

The next time you think about packing a picnic, ask yourself, “what kind of bread will make this picnic truly memorable?” – then try this recipe. You won’t regret it.
Pain de Campagne (Country Bread)
Required Time: 2-3 days
Adapted from: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Preheat oven to 425 using a baking stone like this. We keep a cast iron pan in the bottom of the oven and add a pan of water to it right after the bread goes in to create steam and to help the crust form.
The Chef
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
3 tbs. warm h20 (105-115 F)
1/2 tsp. milk
1/8 tsp. cumin
Make a well in the center of the flour and add the water, milk and cumin. Need for 5-8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 2 days in a draft-free location. It will develop a light crust.
Refreshment 1
2 tbs. chef (above)
about 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. warm h20 (105-115F)
Mound the flour and make a well in the center large enough to hold the remaining ingredients. Tear open the crusty chef and scoop out 2 tbs. of the moist dough. Rip it up and add it to the well. Pour in the water and let it rest for a few minutes. Knead for 5-8 minutes until it’s nice and stretchy. This is now called a Levain.
Place the levain in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a draft free location for about 18 hours or until there is a noticeable rise. Caution, this step is often not successful and you may have to try the recipe a few times to get it right. The temperature of your home and the amount of natural yeast in the air affect the outcome.
Refreshment 2
1/2 c. levain (above)
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 cup warm H20 (110-115F)
2/12 tsp. salt
Add the water to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Tear the levain into small pieces and add to the water. Let rest for a few minutes. With the mixer at low speed, gradually add the flour until you have a shaggy mass of dough. Add the salt. Raise the speed and mix until smooth and elastic about 6 minutes. Briefly knead by hand to firm up the dough.
Fourth Rise: Place in bowl covered with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 5 hours.
Form the dough: Form into a ball and let rise at room temperature for about 4 hours. Dust with flour and slash with bread razor. Spray the oven with water. Bake for about 40-50 minutes until crust forms a rich, golden color.
bread and olive oil
Delicious. So, what’s you’re favorite picnic spot? One place you may want to picnic is the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts. You can read about it here on my new blog Fresh Home and Garden. Check it out, I’d love to have you visit!
Bon Appetit!
 
 

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  1. El, you are lucky indeed! I would have a picnic every night with this bread. My favorite spot is on anyone’s screened porch if I’m lucky enough to have an invitation, or if I’m really lucky and have planned a trip, on Monhegan Island in Maine. I just wrote lucky 3 times, I guess I’m feeling….lucky! Maybe a picnic is in my near future

  2. elra

    16 July

    Such a wonderful bread El, I love making this as well. Have wonderful one 🙂

  3. Maria

    16 July

    I love picnics! This bread is perfect to pack for a fun day outdoors.

  4. A splendid bread! It looks incomparably good! perfect with cheese…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. Asha @ FSK

    16 July

    Ah! No picnic is complete without fresh bread!! with a bit of cheese. the idea of chilling, breaking bread and chewing slowly is just luxurious:)) Nice that your hub bakes such lovely bread….

  6. WHERE did you find that olive oil?! I went to the Chateau d’Estoublon a few years ago while staying in St. Remy in Provence… I’ve longed to procure their products since that visit! Also, BRAVA for finding a husband who will bake you bread.

  7. Sharon

    16 July

    What an incredible loaf of bread he made. Can you drop him off at my house for a little while? LOL.

  8. alison

    16 July

    the bread it’s …just perfect!

  9. Fabulous! A bread-baking husband is increasingly rare these days…and that loaf looks fantastic. We’d always take the ferry over to the Cape (But not really in the summer so as to avoid tourist-central) or drive to New Hampshire for a weekend. Here in the Bay Area, we escape to Lake Tahoe where my family’s had a little house since I was in diapers. There have been many a picnics there on the docks. Great post, El. Happy summer!

  10. Chloe

    16 July

    I am crazy for picnics. This bread is perfect!!!

  11. Dana

    17 July

    What an interesting bottle for olive oil! The atomizer is a great idea. I totally have a few friends who I would buy olive oil cologne for.

  12. Jo

    18 July

    The bread looks gorgeous and it really doesn’t need anything except good olive oil to enhance it’s flavour. What a great treat to bring to a picnic as well over a lazy weekend.

  13. Bread… yes. I can’t live without bread. This loaf of yours looks amazing! I have this recipe but never made it. Now, I think you’ve tempted me enough to do so.
    Magda

  14. I agree this bread is perfect El, but I am really in love with the olive oil in that cunning dispenser… so good for a light mist of oil… and the packaging is just stunning… thanks for the tip!

  15. Chez Us

    18 July

    El, the picnic is very romantic. And look at the beautiful bread and the olive oil! Love it! Hope you are enjoying your NE summer!

  16. yum! nothing beats a picnic does it? the boys and i went out the other week and i ate under an old oak as the boys tried their hand at catching toads.

    i’m definitely making a loaf of this bread for upcoming camping adventure.

  17. That bread looks sensational! There’s nothing I enjoy more than an artisan bread and olive oil. I thank you for sharing the recipe and that wonderful olive oil!

  18. marzipanmom

    19 July

    The bread looks so professional! I’d go make some right now, but I have no oven until Thursday! Guess it’ll have to wait!

  19. Ohhhh, I love this, El! That’s one of my favorite breads though I’ve never made it myself. Need to do that. And I love the olive oil decanter. 🙂

  20. redmenace

    19 July

    I can only dream of making a bread so perfect. It’s gorgeous! And, no, there is nothing better than heading out with fresh eats and enjoying them in nature!

  21. Anh

    19 July

    El, you are surely lucky. I would wish 1000 times that my hubby took on bread baking!

  22. That is one cool olive oil container, El! You’ve made me want to bake bread and go for a picnic right away. If only it weren’t the middle of the night haha.

  23. fresh365

    20 July

    You can never so wrong with a simple picnic of bread & olive oil. Love that packaging too- so fun! For my bridal shower years ago, my mom got me a picnic basket stocked with colorful plates, and utensils. She knows me too well! This reminds me that I need to put it to use more often!

  24. Nadji

    20 July

    Un pain merveilleux. L’huile d’olive doit être très bonne.
    J’aime beaucoup la combinaison des 2.
    See soon.

  25. I’ve decided that rustic / artisan bread baking is my next challenge, this is a great recipe for me to test the waters. What a great find the olive oil is. I like that it comes in a bottle with an atomizer.

  26. Tracy

    21 July

    The bread looks amazing.

  27. Lynn S.

    21 July

    Stunning bread! I wish I had a husband who would make that for me. I’ve been meaning to make bread and feel like now I have no excuse. Seriously inspiring.

  28. Mimi

    23 July

    Baking with Julia is a fabulous book. However this is a recipe that I have yet to try. I think it’s the time factor, I can’t seem to remember to start a few days before I want the bread. Seeing how beautiful your loaf is should inspire me to get with it.
    Mimi

  29. Oh my, that’s a recipe alright! Unfortunately I’m rather lazy and would probably just go to Panera and buy a loaf ; ) Unless I can get my husband to learn how to bake!

    I’m loving our summer this year! Though rather humid, at least it’s warm.

  30. Ash

    25 July

    Picnics are just so fun!! Even better when taking along bread that looks that good!

  31. Jen

    25 July

    The bread looks phenomenal. I wish my husband could bake like that. I’d never cook again!

  32. That olive oil is gorgeous!! I want some!

    And a husband who bakes bakes bread?? I am so jealous. I only come in second with a husband who brings me back loaves from Paris!
    Second, ain’t so bad I guess;)!

    joan

  33. Helene

    28 July

    I recognized that bottle of olive oil the second I saw it! It’s made in the area where I grew up in Provence. The town of Fontvieille is so rich in history and folklore! I hope you get to visit one day!

  34. Now that is a picnic! I WILL try this recipe… was just in Paris a little ove a week ago and am now sitting in a wireless cafe in Bosnia uploading some photos to try to post another Paris piece. I actually took a bread baking course while there at Le Cordon Bleu and it was incredible. I will be posting the learning while there eventually. Love your photos, as always… but the “perfume”? Incredible. Truly.
    :0
    Valerie

  35. Danielle

    30 July

    I love a good, simple crusty bread with some fleur de sel and excellent olive oil. Oh, and a sancerre to wash it all down of course 😉

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