Sourdough Bread – Pain de Campagne

Modified from the recipe in Ken Forkish’s book “Flour Water Salt Yeast.

The part I disliked most about the original recipe was how much starter I was throwing away, and that it used commercial yeast. If I’m going to bother with starters and levains, I don’t want to use commercial yeast. So I modified it to make half the amount of levain, all of which goes into the main dough.

I also provide “full batch” and “half batch” measurements. A full batch will make two big boules. A half batch will make (obviously) one big boule, or two smaller oval loaves.

Feed Your Starter the Night Before

If you bake once a week like I do and not every day, you’ll need to refresh your starter that’s been sleeping in the fridge.

  1. Mix well with a metal spoon
  2. Throw out all but 3/4 of a cup or so
  3. Add and mix in 100 grams of ~90 degree Fahrenheit water and 100 grams flour
  4. Put into the oven with the oven light on
  5. Leave until the next morning.

Make Your Levain

The next morning, around 8 or 9 am, get a medium bowl and add and mix together the following:

IngredientFull BatchHalf Batch
Your starter50g25g
White / all-purpose flour200g100g
Whole wheat or rye flour50g25g
85 to 90 degree Fahrenheit water200g100g

(yes, this is easy math, but it’s also easy to forget to divide one ingredient by half).

Cover and put in your same oven with the oven light on (or some other warm place).

Autolyse the Main Dough

Around seven hours later (3pm if you started at 8am), get a bigger bowl and add the following:

IngredientFull BatchHalf Batch
White / all-purpose flour740g370g
Whole wheat or rye flour60g30g
Mix flours together to evenly distribute them.
85-90 degree Fahrenheit water (or milk)620g310g

Cover and let sit for 30 minutes in, you guessed it, the oven with the light on.

Option: Replace the water with milk to make a softer enriched-style bread.

Add Starter and Salt to Main Dough

After the 30 minutes are up and the flour is nice and autolysed:

IngredientFull BatchHalf Batch
Salt21g11g (rounded up)
  1. Add all the Levain
  2. Add salt
  3. Mix (using the pincer technique) .

Stretch and Fold

Do three or four “stretch and folds“. The first very soon, say after resting for 5 minutes, then the others progressively later, with a max of up to 15 minutes, then let sit covered on the counter until it is a little more than doubled in size.

Divide the dough into whatever you’re making

With a full batch I always make Boules. So I cut my dough in half, form into tight balls, and put into proofing baskets. Cover the baskets and then put them into the fridge for 12 hours or so (i.e. overnight and into the next morning).

Bake the Bread

The next morning or afternoon, set the oven to 450, put a dutch oven in there, and let both come up to temperature, and then stay up to temp for another 30-40 minutes to let everything get good and hot.


  1. Dust your countertop with some flour.
  2. Take one of your bread dough baskets out of the refrigerator, flip it upside down to get it out of the proofing basket and onto the floured counter.
  3. Take the dutch oven out of the oven, place it on top of the stove, and remove the lid (carefully!). I always use Ken’s safety suggestion here which is to place a dry dishtowel on top of the hot lid to remind yourself to NOT grab it with your bare hands.
  4. Put the dough in to the dutch oven, replace the lid (using the dish towel or some other protection), and put the whole thing back into the oven.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes are up, your kitchen should smell like awesome fresh bread baking. Remove the dutch oven lid and bake for another 20 minutes, or longer if you want darker/crispier/thicker crust.
  7. Remove the dutch oven from the oven, take out your loaf of sourdough, and put on a cooling rack.
  8. Resit the urge to cut into your bread right away and instead let it cool on the rack.
  9. If you have more dough put the dutch oven back into the oven for 5-10 minute to let it re-heat and then do your next loaf.