Yesterday I baked the pain de campagne from the book 52 Loaves again. I asked for advice on the bread forums at the Fresh Loaf, and incorporated some of the suggestions into this bake.
I followed the baking instructions and rising times more closely than before, putting the dough into the fridge for an hour of the rise time so it didn’t overproof, but still rose for the full time (about six hours total, four and a half for the first and one an a half for the second). I looked up a conversion for grams to teaspoons for salt, which increased the amount of salt. I handled the dough more gently during shaping. I made two batards instead of one boule. I remembered to heat a skillet up as the oven preheated, for steam.
The steam definitely improved oven spring. I think the flavor was much better this time, so the increased rise time worked, as well as adding more salt. The crumb was marginally more open. Since that was lowest on my list of priorities, I’m very happy with this loaf.
If I do this recipe again, I’m going to try stretch and fold instead of kneading to develop the gluten.. Kneading this sticky dough makes me cranky, and it just isn’t worth it, no matter how good it tastes.