Sunday, January 19, 2014

Miscovich's Miche (Made Petite)

My first disclaimer is that these loaves are not actually Miche. They are not Miche because I purposely made this dough into two smallish-medium loaves rather than one very large loaf. I did this so that I can sell one of them to one of my colleague tomorrow and still let it cure for twenty four hours. I like to cure the 100% whole grain breads. Although this recipe calls for High extraction flour, which has some of the bran removed, I used sifted home ground Red wheat flour. The sifter I gave Kelly for Hanukah functioned as a fine extractor for making a small amount of this flour. In other news, thanks to my well connected colleague Jen, I am the proud owner of a 25 lb bag of whole hard white wheat berries, which I will be using for many of the breads to come. Winter wheat would have been ideal, but for the price (free) I can not complain. 

Miche is a bread that is purposely shaped and baked into a low profile. It is short and wide. It is actually one of my favorite breads to make. It is absolutely chock full of rich earthy flavor and it is fun to eat. You really have to rip at it with your teeth and its just fun to bake. Having worked with this bread for the past three hours, I am excited about the final product. Three perfect folds, a good strong mix, and a good pre-shape. The hard part about this bread is that it proofs upside down and it needs to be flipped to an upright position before being loaded into the oven. I do not have bakers linen so I am going to attempt to use this cool cotton cloth that I got at IKEA.  I will do this for one of the loaves and I will allow the other to proof right side up. Proofing seam up helps, again, to encourage a lower profile. 

This bread also has an autolyse, which does not include the levain! Whoops! I messed that up, I guess since the last three breads had the levain in the autolyse I did it automatically. I can not tell you how many times I have to remind myself to read the recipe first. I have made this mistake several times in the past couple of years. Sometimes I guess that I simply get too excited and I forget to follow instructions. 

The bread is a bit shaggy, but once the dough has mixed on second speed for three minutes it looks pretty strong, with moderate gluten development. You begin to see much more strength and stability after the second fold and after the third fold you really start to get excited about this bread. 

After just shaping the breads, I am pleased. They are supple but much easier to work with than the 75% hydrated pain au levain. This is because they contain almost all whole grain flour, which is what I am used to. For me, Miche contains the best of both worlds. It has a high hydration which yields a wonderful crumb and crust and whole grain which is good for my health. The whole grain flour in the build and in the dough also yield good acidity and good shelf life. For me this bread has the perfect crust-to-crumb ratio. 

The build for this bread is stiffer in nature that the sourdough builds from the previous whiter sour dough breads. This build used only 20% of the flour and is hydrated at 68%. Less water means less buffer, which means more acidity. I did a miche hydration experiment with my good friend Isaac, two years ago. The taste was more sour in the less hydrated build, but they were very similar.

For the bake of this bread, the oven is preheated to 500, loaded and then reduced to 450 degrees. The loaf is baked for about an hour. (45-60 minutes). I used the ice technique: while the oven is heating, you place a cast iron pan in the oven with two ice cubes. When the bread is loaded into the oven, you add five more ice cubes to the pan. I like the results of this technique because If I add too much steam at once, it all leaves the oven via the vent. The gradual steam helps the crust form and provides good oven spring. (Not that I expect very much oven spring from this heavy loaf.) 

I think once I am done baking through Miscovich's book, I am going to try to start making heavier and more wet doughs. They are more fun to bake and the results are fantastic. 

Bake On 

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