Pain de Campagne [1]

Day 1:

Mix these things in a roomy bowl:
Cover with a plate and leave till next day.
At night dream richly. Record your dreams.

Day 2:
Return to the bowl.
Add 4 fluid ounces of luke-warm water
and then 4 ounces of whole-wheat flour.
As you stir the mixture, remember your dreams.
They will rise to the surface in tiny bubbles.
Cover and leave. Sleep well that night.
Record your dreams.

Day 3:
Beat in more water—4 fluid ounces
and then add 12 ounces of strong white flour—
enough to make a workable dough.
Knead at length, remembering your dreams.
Add flour if needed. Continue to work
until the dough is beautifully smooth.
Leave to rise till doubled in size.
Sleep, if you wish, while the bread rises.
Later the same day
Punch back the dough.
Knead briefly and form a long oval.
Place on a baking tray covered in flour.
Shake more flour on top of the loaf.
Lightly cover and let it rise.
This loaf will grow.

When the size strikes you as huge,
slash the top with diagonal cuts
and bake very hot [2] for a quarter of an hour,
then somewhat cooler for twenty minutes [3].

The crust of this loaf will be domed and firm,
the crumb dreamy.
It will make great sandwiches, keep very well
and prove that poetry can be useful.

Helena Nelson


Or ‘Tired of living in the country’  
[2] 230°C
[3] Or perhaps a little longer than 20 minutes, at 180°

If you have any thoughts on this poem,  Helena Nelson  would be pleased to hear them.