Monday, December 10, 2012

I Miche You Mr. Miche!

The finished loaf with out flash, with flour appearance more prominently noted

I know that I have posted on this bread in the past, but my bread mentor Chef Richard Miscovich (Alias: Misky) posted a picture of a Miche, and I was inspired. Miche is a traditional French Canadian bread which is attributed to the European settlers of Canada. This bread is made of high extraction wheat flour. (This flour is almost whole-wheat flour, but not quite.) I know that King Arthur has a high extraction flour which is called High-X, but it can only be purchased in fifty pound bags from local distributors. I also know that it is widely available in the North East. If this flour is not readily available to you, it can be more or less duplicated by combining whole wheat to bread flour in a ratio of 8.5-9:1. The addition of the bread flour, although quite small, really helps with gluten development, so do not leave it out. This is especially true in the bread which I just baked, because it contained rye flour which has much less gluten than wheat flour.

Typically, when I bake with rye flour I mill it the day before I use it. This time I used rye flour that I had milled a few weeks ago. Another change to this bread, which I had no way of avoiding was the use of a liquid levain in place of the traditional stiff levain. I could have postponed baking a day and created some stiff levain from my liquid levain, but I was really itching to bake on my newbread stone. My editor (my Uncle Barry) and his wife Jean purchased a bread stone for me because I left my old baking stone back in Ohio when I moved back East. It is actually made of four 7.5" x 7.5" tiles that you can put together to form one large stone. The use of several stones helps to reduce the chance of breaking. This is a bread that you really cannot bake in a loaf pan. It just would not be the same.  It would lack the open structure and the firm crust of a hearth baked bread (which is what we are about here at Besides the fact, this bread is nearly 15" in diameter, which is the size of my bread stone, I was happy that it was able to fit.

The Sourdough Build:

The sourdough build prior to mixing
Because of the lack of a stiff levain, I cut down on the water in the sourdough by one ounce. This actually kept the hydration to where it would have been, had  I used a stiff levain and the suggested amount of water (70%). This build was fed with both whole wheat and bread flour (to simulate high extraction wheat flour) and with whole rye flour. Needless to say it did not rise too much, but it was certainly heavy. Also, because my home is kept at a whopping 58 degrees, I kept it on the boiler, and in the morning when the build had not rised significantly, I put in near a space heater. The conditions were not perfect, but I did give this plenty of bench time which corrected for the lack of pop in my sourdough build.

The appearance of the sourdough after removing from the space heater location (18 hours later)
Autolyse and Mixing:
This bread does contain an autolyse, which means that the flour and water are mixed until a shaggy mass is formed and then the dough is given about an hour to sit. After the sitting time, the salt and starter are added to this mass, and the dough is mixed on second speed for 2.5 minutes. I remembered the salt this time, which is a major feat! It was a bit hard to incorporate the sourdough build into the autolyse, I had to mix it for an additional ssixty seconds on first speed, and it still was not all the way incorporated, but I left it to the three folds to make this incorporation happen. 

The autolyse after mixing

Due to the very high amount of water in this formula (82 percent) and the very small amount of bread flour, this bread does require two to three folds, I gave it three, and it needed all of them. The folds were given every forty minutes during bulk fermentation.

This is one of the breads from Hamelman's book which does not contain yeast. There are less than five yeast-less formulas in his book: "BREAD". So I am always remaking these breads, as they are the true sourdoughs!

The third and final fold! I added extra flour hear to help in the final bake

This bread came out well considering it was the first time using my bread stone, and I was forced to make adjustments to the hydration of this sourdough.
A bread stone is much like a friend to a baker. The stone and I are in a new relationship. After a while, I will know its properties and how it will bake. For a 1st use, me and the new stone got along fine. I found this bread to be very open and the crumb to be moist and the crust to be very hearty and tasty. Since I did not have any semolina flour and was forced to use bread flour on this bread.  Because of its high hydration, I used a lot of flour so the bread had a fair amount of bread flour on its bottom. Next time I will use whole wheat flour and it should have less of a tacky appearance. Overall, I was more than pleased with this bread. My editor also tasted this bread, he will leave his comments below

The appearance of the final product with flash (see top for final product without flash)
And the crumb!
Editors Comments:

I have been editing David's blog for the past year. Because David was living in Ohio, I never got to taste the breads that I was writing about. I love bread and would not know what to do if I had to do one of those low-carb diets. Regarding this bread, David brought me and my wife 4 half-slices.

They had to be half-slices because the diameter of the bread was so huge. My wife had one piece and I had the other three. I loved the crust on this bread and I found the crumb to be moist, but a bit heavy. I am not used to the texture of the sourdough, but I loved the bread and I actually loved the effect of the bread flour on the bottom of the bread. There was a subtle taste of rye throughout the eating process. Piece number 1 was used to dip up some gravy that I did not want to go to waste. Piece number 2 was eaten with a light spread of butter. The next day, I put piece number 3 on my George Forman Grill and toasted it for about 3 minutes. When toasted this way, it got very crispy and the rye flavor was intensified.

Bake On
-The Bread Barron (DW)

1 comment :

  1. I was fortunate to have a few slices of this bread. If I had to choose one word to describe it, it would be "delicious"! I absolutely loved the texture of the bread, it tasted lovely with my lentil soup.
    Can't wait to enjoy more of your breads David!:)