Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BBA Challenge #22: Pain de Campagne

Every Sunday, on ARD, they show the longest-running series show in the history of German television. It's called Tatort, which roughly translates to "Scene of the Crime". It is shown in a 90 minute stretch, without commercials and otherwise uninterrupted starting at exactly 20:15.

It's actually somewhat of a joke with us, as we tell people that we can't do anything on Sunday evenings during Tatort. Though it is one of the highest rated German shows, it is a bit unusual for young people, and even more unusual for non-Germans, to watch the show.

Nevertheless, I love watching it. Each week you have a different city and thus different Kommissare. You do see each pair about twice a week, and over the years get to know a bit about them. My favorite team is Frank Thiel from Münster with partner, Forensics Professor Boerne. Together they are a hilarious pair, though the comedy always black.

On this Particular Sunday, we were at our friend's house. We switch off sundays and either we cook, or she cooks. That Sunday, two Sundays ago, Thiel and Boerne were solving a very odd case, and my friend called asking if I happened to be baking bread, as she didn't have time to run out and buy some.

The mise en place is rather simple- pâte fermentée, a mixture of whole wheat and bread flour, yeast, Guerande Salt, as well as bottled water.

One of the great things about having a mixer with an 8L capacity is that you can just do the ferment in the bowl, covering it with a damp towel for the first rise.

I had originally decided to shape the dough into a couronne, but then changed my mind. I was shaping the dough into a batard when inspiration struck. Well, you could say it struck me down.

You see, when I began the challenge. I marvelled at everyone's creativity. Everyone was doing crazy things with their dough or changing the fruits and nuts around. So when I got a crazy idea, I decided to just go with it and see what came of it later.

About a year ago, a friend introduced us to Das Museum der Dinge (Museum of the thing) tucked away in the punk/alternative enclave of Oranienstrasse. It's more of an archive of- well- things. In their Museum Shop I found this cake mold, designed by Konstantin Slawinski. What caught my eye was the amazing design. It looked like a modernist building. Of course, Amy saw the practical use of the mold- to create different sized portions of cake.

What compelled me to plop a bread into a silicon ring mold? Or what compelled me to make long dough strips and then lay them into the mold? I dunno. All I know is that I wanted a couronne, and I didn't want it to be ordinary.

I also made a few other shapes. From left- a bunch of bananas, an Épi, and a twisted baguette in a U-shape.

The Épi was a lot of fun to do. You just take a pair of scissors, snip, and push the piece to the side.

You do, however, end up with rounded ends, just like with a baguette.

The botom-side of the shape reveals that my mad Épi-making skills have yet to be developed.

However, the lucky recipients of this bread flipped out over it. We gifted it to the parents of our French Canadian friend. I have personally never seen this shape in real life, but they had, and they went on about how it looked just like the ones in France. They probably didn't take a look at the back of the thing.

As for this thing, I took the inspiration from some twisted baguettes from Switzerland that I saw in a bread book. I don't remember which one, however, as it was a bread book I ended up not buying.

So. In case you are still reading. Here is how the couronne turned out. This modernist leveled shape is actually the bottom of the cake mold, but the top of the cake proper. I not only turned the bread 180 degrees mid-way through baking, but I also flipped it over to get the top to brown nicely.

Normally these divisions would indicate different portion sizes. The portions are of differing widths as well as differing heights.

The only problem with the bread was the inconsistent browning. The higher pieces tended to brown faster, leaving me with a multi-browned couronne.

One thing I do regret, though, was making several long snakes of dough and piling them in. I think the next time I make this- and there will be a next time- I will try to keep it to one piece, or maybe form rolls and put them together in the cake mold.

For those of you interested, here is the "bottom" of the loaf. This was originally the top before it was flipped over. You can see some of the portion markings on the sides.

Because I was bringing the couronne to the Tatort dinner, I cut apart the U-twist baguette to get a nice crumb shot. The holes were okay, and the crumb was relatively tight. However, that did not detract from the moist crumb and dry, crunchy crust. Oh, yeah, it tasted good too.

At dinner, we sliced it up according to the portion markings. It was almost like having rolls.

Of course, it was three(!) different kinds of pasta and this bread. I couldn't help myself and had about four or five rather large pieces. I couldn't help it. The bread was so good. I rarely say that, though, because I've had tons of bread, and sometimes it all tastes the same to me. Hold on- let me rephrase. I usually eat good bread- In this country it takes a bit of effort to get bad bread, though it exists. However, I am usually rarely wowed by my own breads. Perhaps I'm too critical. But this one was soft and crunchy and the flavor of the pâte fermentée. It wasn't himmlisch, but it was certainly lecker.

Other Campaigne-ros in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge include:

Michelle from Big Black Dog

Oggi from I can do that!

txfarmer's blog in Chinese with lots of pictures

Janice from Round the Table

Susie from Susie's Home and Hobbies

Phyl from Of Cabbages and King Cakes

Sally from Bewitching Kitchen


  1. Beautiful breads! Makes me want to try this one again. I love the couronne. Very creative idea!

  2. I like the mold. I agree with your friends. Your Epi looks great, just like a professional one.

    I can't wait to get to this bread.

  3. A very enjoyable post. I never flipped my epi over, but yours looks great. I'm glad that it was lecker.

  4. Fantastic shaping! I love the epi and courrone.

    I'm a fan of Tatort but we only get to see the one from Cologne with Ballauf and Schenk. I didn't know it features different detectives from other cities. I wonder if the series is available on DVD.

  5. I love reading about your life in Germany! Very cool pan. I think it would be interesting to try it again and fill the pan with round rolls.

  6. I also love reading about your life in Germany... and your epi made me want to go to my site and remove my disaster right away... Did I butcher it or what? :-)

  7. Wow, Fantastic shaping! It looks soooo good.

  8. Beautiful bread and fantastic shaping! I'm so thankful for sharing... You're the one who could simply make my day - good for you! This cheap essay writing service can be always of use!