Authentic Pain de Campagne Recipe (rye sourdough bread)

Pain de campagne is one of the most popular breads to leave France. It’s often re-created but not usually, that well in the supermarkets! This recipe should hope to end any negative thoughts about this bread, it is truly a fantastic bread.  I’d go as far as saying it’s a bread makers bread. You know, a recipe that all bread enthusiasts love, whilst the general public shy away from it. 15 – 20 hours

The depth of flavour that comes from this pain de Campagne is breathtaking! The rye flour offers a nutty flavour which combines with the lightness and warmth of the white and wholemeal wheat. It’s this combination between deep and light aromas which make this bread a culinary delight!

You can experiment with this recipe by changing the ratio of the flours to tweak the flavour. You may also try to autolyse at the start too.

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If this is your first sourdough recipe, you may find my sourdough bread recipe for beginners is simpler.
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What you need to make pain de Campagne

To make this amazing sourdough bread, you’ll need the following equipment:

Using a thermometer will help you with controlling proofing times. For accurate dough temperature readings try this thermometer from Gdealer. Aim for dough temperature between 25C and 30C (77-86F).

What if I don’t have a baking stone?

A baking stone conducts heat into the loaf. Using one increases the height of the oven spring and helps to give an even bake on the base of the loaf. If you don’t have a baking stone, preheat the thickest baking sheet that you have.

Can I use a dutch oven to make this recipe?

Yes, if you would rather use a dutch oven to make this pain de campagne sourdough recipe you won’t need to add steam to the oven. Simply preheat the dutch oven and drop the dough inside on a sheet of parchment paper to bake. If you are looking to get a dutch oven, I recommend this one from Challenger. You shouldn’t need a baking stone either.

pain de campagne recipe main photo


  • 130g  Rye sourdough
  • 225g  White Bread Flour
  • 38g  Wholemeal Bread Flour
  • 38g  Dark rye flour
  • 189g  Water
  • 6g  Salt
You can use a white flour sourdough in this recipe if you don't have a rye one, it makes a slightly lighter bread. If you don't have a rye sourdough you can refresh 48g white sourdough with 48g rye flour and 38g water, 6-8 hours previous to starting the recipe.

Changing the size of the recipe

This recipe makes 1 medium sized bread. If you want to change the size of the recipe, use the bakers formula.

How to make Pain de Campagne – the method:

1) Prepare the ingredients

In a mixing bowl, weigh the water and tare the scale. Then weigh the sourdough starter in the same bowl. Weigh the flour and the salt separately before amalgamating all the ingredients in the main mixing bowl.

Using a dough mixer:

If you wish to use a dough mixer, place all the ingredients inside a dough mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix at a slow speed for 5 minutes before increasing to a faster speed for 4 minutes. Skip to stage 4.

2) Slowly bring the ingredients together

Set a 7 minute timer. Using a dough scraper, start to gently combine the ingredients. Stretching the gluten slowly. Once it becomes difficult inside the bowl, remove the dough and carry on working it on a workbench, now without the scraper. Use a slow, stretching technique until the timer sounds. Scrape the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover, and it goes in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

3) Fast knead for gluten development

Remove from the fridge, setting a timer for 8 minutes. Fast knead using the stretch and slap technique on the workbench. Continue until the timer sounds or when the dough feels nice and elastic and passes the windowpane test.

4) Bulk ferment (first rise)

Return the dough into the mixing bowl. Take a temperature check of the dough, we want it to be 24-26C. Generally the bulk ferment should be done at room temperature, but if the dough temperature is too warm, place it in the fridge for the bulk ferment, if it’s cooler, you can try keeping it in a warm place. Cover the dough and leave for one hour.

5) Now it’s time to preshape!

The dough should now feel strong, dense and showing small signs of gas development. Leave it a little longer if you think it needs it. Take the dough out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured table. Pull the dough over itself whilst rotating to shape into a round. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.

6) Final shaping the Pain de Campagne

Prepare a banneton by dusting it in wholemeal and dark rye flour. Repeat the same shaping process as before, before putting the dough into the floured banneton, seam side facing up.

7) Final proof in the fridge

Cover the bowl loosely with a bag. It goes in the refrigerator to proof overnight for 10-14 hours. Alternatively, it will take around 3-4 hours at room temperature.

8) Preheat the oven!!

The next morning, the dough should have risen to 2/3’s of the height of its banneton. If not, leave it out on the kitchen table for a couple of hours. Preheat the oven to 250C (480F) with a baking stone near the bottom and a heavy-duty lipped tray underneath it. 

9) Score the bread

Once the oven and the bread are ready, turn the dough out on a dusted peel (or chopping board) and cut the bread. Choose a design you wish -wholemeal and rye flours struggle to oven spring with too many cuts, so not too many cuts! You can lightly dust with flour before cutting if you choose.

10) Bake time

Slide the bread on to the hot baking stone using a peel and pour a cup of hot water onto the preheated tray beneath. This provides plenty of steam for a nice, crusty finish. Drop the temperature to 230C (440F) and bake for 20 minutes. Open the door quickly to release the steam and then drop the temperature to 220C (420F) for a further 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

11) Cooling

For authentic pain de campagne, bake until there is a nice amount of caramelisation on the crust. Remove using a peel and allow to cool before eating!

How to make pain de Campagne video tutorial

Pain De Campagne -French Sourdough Bread Of The Countryside
Note: The bottled water that I used in the video made no difference to the taste at all. I had been going through a phase of watching Italian bakers use it and despite knowing there is no scientific evidence that bottled water tastes better in bread than ordinary, I tried it anyway.... It doesn't, providing your tap water is drinkable, just use that.

Nutritional information per loaf

Calories: 1259kcal | Carbohydrates: 262g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fiber: 34g | Sugar: 2g | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 17mg

Other bread recipes to try:

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