The Fresh Loaf

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Revisiting Pain de Campagne (Black Rice Starter Made It's Debut)

WanyeKest's picture

Revisiting Pain de Campagne (Black Rice Starter Made It's Debut)

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that the post will be my only post, simply as a 'gratitude' post for all the bread baking knowledge I've learned, allows me to eat healthier. Now to think that I have severe commitment issue, which hinders me from having hobbies those I can cling to in long term, maybe it's a good idea for me to write structured methods. The idea is, when I for some reason no longer feel like baking again, and somehow want to get back to it, I have something that I can directly look into without feeling overwhelmed.

Everytime I decide to learn certain bakes, I like to learn the classics first before going wild with experimentation. My first 30 something batches of (re)learning sourdough was pain de campagne. I like it for it's mild flavor profile and light texture. My go-to formula back then involves 20% whole wheat and 10% rye. The problems are:

  1. Regular whole wheat only available in 5kg increments with short lifespan. I'm by all means not a hardcore hobbyist, hence not having the willpower to consume 5 kg bag of whole wheat in less than 2 months. Milling my own flour? Not a chance (lol)
  2. I have zero reason for using rye. First, I'm not a sour seeker. Second, I couldn't notice what difference 10% rye makes in sourdough when it comes to flavor

I live in the tropics, so I was thinking, why not adjust the formula using ingredients those locally are more accessible. First, atta whole wheat is available in 2kg increment. Second, black rice flour is phenomenal for crust color. Third, oat flour is awesome when you want something mild but still in the realm of whole grains.

Speaking of black rice, I planned to always use it in my sourdough bakes, for the reason I mentioned above. It's just logical for me to put it in the earliest part of fermentation process; the starter. Besides that, starter has no role in dough strength anyway, so why not use some weak flour that I really adore.

Here is the method. In my fashion, weakest flour goes first, strongest flour goes last.


Overall: 85% hydration, 5% glutinous black rice flour, 15% rolled oat flour, 20% atta whole wheat, 3 stages levain, cold pot method, 30% prefermented flour


Day 1

Mix 3 g 50% hydration black rice starter, 6 g black rice flour, and 3 g water. Ferment for 2 hours, then refrigerate.


Day 2

Mix previous levain with 16 g black rice flour, 12 g oat flour, and 14 g water. Ferment until mature

Mix previous levain with 60 g oat flour, 48 g atta flour, and 54 g water. Ferment for 2 hours, then refrigerate.


Day 3

Dechill levain for 45 minutes.

Puree levain with 336 g water. Mix in 288 g 13% protein white flour and 48 g atta flour. Rest 20 minutes.

Add 12 g salt, mix well. With spatula, stretch the dough north-south, then west-east. With wet hands, raise the dough in the air and do S&F north-south then west-east. Rest 20 minutes.

Repeat the double S&F and 20 minutes rest until the dough resisting stretch. Usually takes me 1.5 hours or two. After the last 20 minutes rest, you may preshape the dough.

Shape, and proof in parchment lined enameled pot. Proof a bit longer than you would with banneton for fluffier texture.

The last 20 minutes of proofing, blow dry the loaf with standing fan. Score, spray the dough with water, lid on.

Bake 250 °C for 45 minutes.


I noticed whenever I use oat flour, I get better volume despite closed crumb (I'm not open crumb seeker). And more tender crumb too.


Taste assessment

I always toast my bread before eating. After being toasted, it's soooo fluffy with thin shattery crispy crust. That's the wonder of oat and blow drying instead of flour-dusting pre-scoring. As any bread I've made with > 10% oat in the levain, it has slight vegetal taste, reminiscence of cucumber. The acidity is mild. There is slight acetic smell when untoasted, but it's gone after toasting. In my opinion, it pairs well with fish, also anything citrusy.



High hydration is necessary if oat flour is involved, otherwise the scored surface will have torn and shredded look instead of nice spherical surface

At first, the dough feels a bit slacker than 75% hydration APF dough. But it will get nice and elastic eventually.

I always puree my stiff levain for 15 seconds before use regardless the type of flour used, never had problem (keep in mind I never use more than 30% prefermented flour)

There is no reliable way to judge ripeness of the second stage levain. First, black rice has strong aroma. Second, no significant volume increase. Cracks might occur. Usually my atta starter takes 4 hours to ripe, so I fermented it for 4 hours

This starter is a lot more vigorous than the last time it was still being fed with atta flour. I might have to cut the prefermented flour from my usual 30% to 20-25%


Peace and love,





Martadella's picture

Very interesting post. Thank you for sharing your method.

WanyeKest's picture

Thank you for kind words. Appreciate it




pmccool's picture

in that they made bread with locally available ingredients.  Pain de campagne, or country bread, used the flours made from grains that were grown nearby.  You have more flexibility, given today's global shipment of goods, but the principle is the same.

Your bread looks good, tastes good, and fits your situation.  Win-win-win.


WanyeKest's picture

Appreciate your kind words




tpassin's picture

That's one good-looking loaf!

You wrote "Puree levain with 336 g water".  Do you mean actually puree with a blender?  It would never have occurred to me but makes sense with a stiff levain that isn't going to be asked to contribute to the gluten network.

Lately I have been mixing the gluten-forming ingredients together and starting to develop the gluten, then adding the non-gluten-forming ingredients.  I wonder if that would work well for your process.


WanyeKest's picture

Thank you, appreciate it

I always puree my levain for 15 seconds using blender. I do that as well with whole wheat or atta levain. Never had problem.

My priority is to preserve the gluten of my strongest flour so I can fit in more whole grains without compromising structure too much, by spending less time fermenting. For example, hypothetically I want to make 20% black rice loaf. I will have stronger dough if I put my black rice in the beginning of fermentation. If I put my 13% protein white flour in the levain, the gluten will be broken down earlier, resulting in weaker dough. 



JonJ's picture

Lots of food for thought, thanks for the post Jay.

I find the levain on black rice flour most interesting. Out of curiosity (and because it is what I have!) have you tried baking with brown rice flour, and, if so, is that something that also affects the crust.

Thanks again for a most interesting post and please do write more, not only for yourself, but also for those of us who appreciate it too.



WanyeKest's picture

eventhough I live in rice eating country, never in my life I've ever seen brown rice flour, let alone had experience with it. It's just we often associate flours with sweets, snacks, and tea cakes, and brown rice is not something we would associate with those food items.

Thanks for kind words, appreciate it. I have at least 3 planned bakes which employ several interesting ideas those have been on my bucket list. Still playing around with Desem lately, and prolly need several more trials to fine-tune the formula