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Rustic Country Bread

19 Oct
Pan de Campo recipe

Enjoy Mallmann’s Argentine crispy rustic bread with homemade jams, chutneys and tapenades

The first recipe book I bought here in Argentina was Francis Mallmann’s Siete Fuegos, Mi cocina Argentina. After about an hour’s deliberation in the book shop here in Buenos Aires, I finally decided to part with what was the best part of £40 and get reading. Well, I haven’t looked back. The book is an absolute delight to read, and the recipes are a treat to the senses. Mallmann likes to cook on open fire and his recipes are very much rustic and homely. The added benefit of this Rustic Country Bread (or Pan de Campo as it is known here in Argentina) recipe below is that it’s also incredibly simple to make.  Although it has a quite a long proving time, it is really very tasty and worth the time it takes. Plus, whilst it’s proving, you could be making some delicious breakfast jams or afternoon dips to accompany the bread, or simply resting on the couch sipping on a velvety hot chocolate Aregtine drink called submarino (click here for this 2 minute hot chocolate drink).

Mallman’s Rustic Country Bread

Ingredients for one large loaf

500g (1 lb) strong white flour (plus a little extra for working with the bread)

15g fresh yeast or 5g dried yeast

250ml tepid water (38-43C)

125ml extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp sugar

Method

1. Dissolve the yeast in half of the tepid water (125ml) and set aside.

2.  Place the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl, add the dissolved yeast mixture, the olive oil and remaining water and mix until you form a dough. Add extra a little extra flour if necessary (I found that I didn’t need to).

3. Move the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes, until the dough is of an elastic consistency.

4. Transfer the dough to a floured bowl, cover with a damp towl and leave it prove in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

5. Flour a work surface. Using your fists, knock the dough to ‘knock out’ the air and form a rectangular shape, about 20cm wide by 38cm long and 2cm thick.

6. Wet the surface of the dough slightly (I just threw a little water on top) and roll the dough to form a cylinder shape, evening the edges with the palm of your hands. (I have to say that I found this quite a hard concept to understand at first but in simple terms, you roll the dough so that it looks like a long thin Swiss roll. This is how professional bread makers get their bread to look so good!)

7. Place this in a floured oven proof dish, cover with a damp cloth and leave to prove in a warm place for another hour, until it’s nearly doubled in size.

8. Heat the oven to 180C (350F). (Mallman makes a point of highlighting that a shelf be placed in the bottom third of the oven to ensure there is more heat. This is important if you’re using an oven such as mine, where heat is generated from the bottom and the temperature isn’t even throughout. In a fan oven, or something more modern, there will be no need to worry about this).

9. Make 4 or 5 deep diagonal slashes across the top of the bread (each about 1cm deep). Then sprikle a little water on top to dampen and then a little flour.

10. Cook the bread in the oven for 45 minutes. When the bread looks like it has a crispy crust and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it the bread is ready.

11. Leave the bread to cool on a wire rack.

Corinne’s serving suggestions:

Why not try this bread out with a home-made peach jam for breakfast?

How about serving it with an Argentine olive tapenade at a dinner party or ripping it into pieces and serving it with a warm winter stew such as Dona Petrona’s Lamb stew with beer (Cordero Guisado a la cerveza)?

Recipe source: Francis Mallmann’s Siete Fuegos, Mi Cocina Argentina

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