The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pain de campagne (FWSY)

Rickenheimer's picture

Pain de campagne (FWSY)

Hello, everyone. First time posting here so if I'm posting this in the wrong place, please let me know. I've been working my way through Forkish's Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast with good success so far. I'm at the point where I have reached his pain de campagne recipe. My starter uses 100% hydration, whereas my understanding of his starter is that he uses 80% hydration. I'd rather not use his method for developing a starter since I already have mine going. My question is: Is it worthwhile for me to reduce the hydration at some point in the recipe to account for this difference or does the amount of starter used make it negligible? If I do reduce the hydration am I better off reducing it in the levain or in the final dough? Thanks for any help!

idaveindy's picture

The measure to best describe the amount of levain/starter is the "pre-fermented flour."

Where a formula calls for 100 g of starter at 80% hydration, it breaks down like this:

55.6 g flour + 44.4 g water = 100 grams total at 80% hydration.

So if you want to use your 100% hydration starter, you still want to use an amount that has 55.6 grams of flour, or "pre-fermented flour" to be more precise. (That is, flour that has been given time to ferment/peak, etc.)

Since your starter is 100% hydration, it will contain:

55.6 g flour + 55.6 g water = 111.2 grams total.

Therefore, you will be adding an additional 11.2 g water than what is called for.  

Hence, you would need to reduce the water by 11.2 grams in the levain build, assuming you're still going to make a 80% hydration levain from your 100% hydration starter.


Forkish's levain-build step seems wasteful to many, so they halve it, building only 500 g levain. (and still use the 360 grams) In that case, you'd use 55.6 grams of your 100% hydration starter, and use 5.6 grams less water in the levain-build stage.

You'd still have 140 grams of 80% hydration levain left over, to carry forward as your starter, and by adding some water, you could standardize it at your 100% hydration.

Rickenheimer's picture

Thank you very much for breaking it down this way. This was very helpful and I can see now how water adjustments can be made.