A delicious and simple bread recipe

In Lewes, you can buy the most delicious bread, called Chewy Brown or Campaillou, which is a crusty, chewy, slightly malty, sour dough-type bread, delivered from some wonderful bakers in Brighton http://www.realpatisserie.co.uk/.  It’s quite expensive (£2.40 a loaf) and only really available to the good residents of Brighton and Lewes.  My dear friend Sarah always brings some when she visits us in North Essex, and last time she came up we tried to find an equivalent recipe online, only to discover it is VERY arduous, the process seemed to take days and you need things like a planetary mixer (!), and a whole host of obscure ingredients.  So we concluded that in fact £2.40 for this bread is a bargain.

The good news is, that the below recipe gives a near-as-damn-it equivalent to Chewy Brown, without devoting your life to making it.  In fact, it’s about the easiest bread you can make yourself, and is most tolerant to time variants, as you will see below. 

Please note, good bread can change your life!  Do try this recipe, it will make all meal times a pleasure – breakfast (toast with marmalade), lunch (with soup or as any kind of sandwich) as a light supper with poached duck egg and rocket.  I could go on, but instead, I urge you to spend 5 minutes to make this lovely loaf!

The original bread recipe is Jim Lahey’s basic no-knead bread recipe, which comes from his inspiring book My Bread, the below is a slightly simplified version


400g Bread Flour (I often use half white and half wholemeal, but you can use rye, spelt or any that takes your fancy)

¼ tsp instant dried yeast

1 ¼ tsp salt

300ml Cool Water (I use either cold water from the fridge or the tap)

Polenta (optional, but I scatter a bit on the bottom of the casserole before adding the dough and then over the dough before baking)

Any seeds you want to add (I add a couple of tbps of sunflower and pumpkin seeds)


1 mixing bowl

1 spatular

1 heavy-lidded casserole


Mix your dry ingredients together and then gradually add your cool water, mixing well until you have a wet dough (add more than the above quantity if needed).  Cover with cling film and leave to one side in your kitchen (doesn’t need to be anywhere specific i.e. warm) for 12-18 hours.

After 12-18 hours your wet dough will have risen to 2-3 times its original size and will have some exciting bubbles appearing. 

Now, take a spatula and slide round the edge of the bowl bringing the dough from the sides to the middle of the mixture, as if you were folding it up and over.  Go right the way round the bowl.  The dough will have lost some of its air and be about half the size.

Leave the dough for another 1-2 hours (if you leave if for longer it doesn’t matter, I’ve left it for a whole day after the first rising).

Now place your lidded casserole in the oven and turn the oven on to heat up to 220ºC (fan). 

Once your oven and casserole are hot, take the casserole out of the oven, sprinkle the bottom with polenta and carefully pour your dough in – it will sizzle a little.  Sprinkle a little polenta on top of your dough.  Place the casserole lid back on and put back into the middle of your oven.  Cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take the lid off the casserole and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the casserole for about 10-15 minutes. Then tip onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

This bread also keeps incredibly well (apparently – it never gets a chance to in our house…)

25 Responses to “A delicious and simple bread recipe”
  1. sarah says:

    great post. love seeing that bread come alive.

  2. Ruth says:

    Hi. I love The Real Patisserie company chewy brown and am so excited to read that I can get it in Lewes (which is much nearer)….. but please tell me

    • Hi Ruth, I will find out for you from my friend who lives in Lewes. By the way, how did you come across my blog? I am new to this game and have never had a stranger comment, so this is very exciting! Thanks, Jess

      • Ruth says:

        I was searching for a recipe for the real patisserie chewy brown bread (which I adore) and yours was the nearest thing to it. I tried it last night, but I used quite a strong wholemeal flour in a 3:1 ratio with strong white and it’s a bit strongly wholemeal tasting, if you know what I mean. Also it stuck horribly to the casserole so not a great success all round! I will try again with a greased casserole and polenta.
        I’m wondering if the shop you’re thinking of is on the steep hill up from the station?
        Thank you for replying though and good luck with your blog. X

      • Hello again, I have had a reply from my friend about the chewy brown and she says the following: You can buy it at Bills, sometimes Cheese Please and also the Needle Makers cafe (although they only sell it of they don’t need it anymore) actually a bakery called Flint Owl seems to be pushing chewy brown out of the way since chewy is actually made in Brighton and Flint Owl is more local and smaller so lots of the shops are trying to support them. Sorry your bread-making didn’t work out first time, don’t give up though! I have had the same experience with brown flour, it is very sticky, so definitely use polenta or semolina on the bottom of the casserole, also make sure you have put the casserole in the oven to heat up before putting the dough in. You could also try using a little less water and a cook for a tad longer so that the loaf is a bit drier. I have never had the sticking problem with white flour, so maybe try that next time. All the best, Jess x

        > Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2012 16:58:54 +0000 > To: jessiebells75@hotmail.com >

  3. George says:

    Is it definitely just a quarter teaspoon? That sounds quite low

  4. Lily says:

    Is it essential to proof for min 12 hours? Mine has been proofing for 5.5 hours and has doubled…. Will proofing for longer means it could collapse?

    • Hi Lily,

      The proving gives this loaf its wonderful taste and texture, and it’s a very tolerant dough. You can cook it at this stage and by all means do, or you can knock it down and give it another few hours proving before baking.

      Either way I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

      All the best, Jess

  5. Lily says:

    Great thanks for your prompt response…. Can’t wait to taste it. I am addicted to campaillou but it’s costing me a fortune…. Twill be breakfast tomorrow…can’t wait to try it….it it works, it will be my first successful loaf……

    • Fingers crossed for your breakfast tomorrow! I think this is a pretty fail safe recipe and it’s totally yummy. Plus, you can use any type of flour, rye, spelt, mixture of white and wholemeal, add seeds or dried fruit. It’s a very accommodating bread!

  6. Lily says:

    I made it successfully,,, after several attempts.. I had to proof the yeast as I wouldn’t know if it was good yeast otherwise….I bought original instead of instant yeast, and it rose and fell within the first 6 hours,,,I suspect it wasn’t warm enough as this yeast has to be kep warm… I shall just put on in the oven now and see what happens:/

  7. Mike says:

    is there anything other than polenta/seminola to sprinkle on the base of the pan? Would more flour suffice? I’ve had it stick twice now also. Thanks, great bread otherwise, Mike

  8. C says:

    Hello – I’m very excited to read about your chewy brown recipe but just wondering if this can be made in a bread maker? or how it might be adapted to a bread maker? Cheers

    • Hi there, sorry for the slow response – summer hols are in full swing! This recipe really can’t be done in a bread maker, as the flavours are developed over the 24 hrs fermentation, I suppose you could try the mixing and fermentation in a bowl and then pour the dough into the bread maker pan to cook. But it’s such an easy recipe, if you have a bowl, a lidded cast iron pot and an oven, you’re ready to go! Good luck Jx

  9. Amee says:

    Is there any way I can use active dry yeast instead of instant dry yeast?

    • You can certainly try active dry yeast, use less than you would for a typical loaf. This recipe is very versatile, I’ve even added yeast half way through the proving stage as I realised I hadn’t added it in the first place (no bubbles appearing) and it still turned out well!

  10. Sara Dixon says:

    Years ago you could buy ‘Batons de Campaillou’ from Marks and Spencer’s food hall. They were quite unlike any bread I had tasted before so I was heartbroken when they were discontinued.

    Since then I have tried to find a way of getting hold of this bread and recently did another search of the internet which is how I came upon your blog. Last weekend I tried the recipe above using Doves Farm malthouse bread flour (a mixture of wheat, rye, barley malt flours and malted wheat flakes). I was prepared for my first attempt at a homemade loaf to be an inedible disaster but was thrilled when I produced a delicious chewy-crusted loaf very similar to that Campaillou bread that had made such a lasting impression on me.

    I want to thank you for introducing me to this recipe. It has been a revelation!

    But before I go I’d like to ask whether the recipe could be adapted to make bread in a traditional loaf tin or as demi-bagettes. Does it have to be baked in a lidded casserole dish?

    • Hi Sara,

      I’m so glad this recipe has been a success for you! You could try the baking the mix straight in the oven – the worst that could happen is a disappointing loaf! Baking in effectively a Dutch oven (the lidded casserole) creates hot steam around the loaf giving the chewy crust and bubbles in the loaf, so you could put a shallow tin of boiling water in the oven with you loaf or Demi-baguette to introduce steam into the baking process. Good luck and let me know if you have success! Jess X

      • Sara says:

        Hi Jess

        I’ve given the recipe a go baking the dough in a tin placed directly in the oven with a tray of boiling water as suggested and can report that it has produced the same lovely loaf, retaining its distinctive Campaillou character, as baking in the casserole.

        However as the dough is quite damp and sticky, it is difficult to mould so if I want to make demi-bagettes I will have to invest in a bagette pan.

        Should any fellow Campaillou enthusiasts out there fancy making different shaped loaves I hope this little experiment will encourage them to do so!

      • Glad to know you can also make this bread in a normal tin, thanks for sharing the tip x

      • Sara says:

        Hi Jess

        I’ve given the recipe a go baking the dough in a tin directly in the oven with a tray of boiling water as suggested and can report that it has produced the same lovely loaf, retaining its distinct Campaillou character, as does baking in the casserole.

        However because the dough is quite damp and sticky it is difficult to mould so if I want to make demi-baguettes I will have to invest in a baguette pan.

        Should any fellow Campaillou enthusiasts out there fancy making different shaped loaves I hope this little experiment will encourage them to do so!

  11. louiseramsay says:

    Amazing read – just made it today. Have quite a big casserole dish though, so going to double the ingredients so the loaf comes out less flat. Texture brilliant though – close to a sourdough but no need to knead!

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