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Darkstar's picture
Darkstar

I have to start off by saying that this was a very rewarding learning experience and I hope to be able to articulate some of what I learned by making this miche.

So I had a weak moment on Amazon a few weeks back and ordered Reinhart's BBA and Whole Grains books as I've been wanting them for two Christmas' and a birthday but my wife and family never seemed to get the blatant hints. I read BBA first as here at The Fresh Loaf it is considered gospel. I found it to be a well put together, well thought out, easy to read book. Peter Reinhart's teaching style comes through very well and he made concepts like bakers percentages make sense to me after I'd read and had time to digest them.

Day 1: I started out three days ago by making a hardball pre-ferment with KA Whole Wheat flour sifted through a fine mesh strainer, sourdough starter, and a little filtered water. The hardball sat covered in a lightly oiled bowl for 4-5 hours at room temperature before I put it in the refrigerator to retard for the night.

Day 2: The next afternoon I mixed up the main dough by warming my hardball, sifting TWO POUNDS of KA Whole Wheat flour, incorporating that with the hardball and some water and salt. I mixed the dough and kneaded this behemoth for 10-15 minutes the stashed it in a large covered bowl to let it rest and rise. The dough was left covered at room temperature for around 5 hours during which it doubled in size nicely. Back to the refrigerator for the dough to retard overnight.

Lesson number one was learned here. I had never tried to hand-knead that much dough. Frankly I'm a slave to my KitchenAid but this was just too much dough for it to handle. I used a technique I learned from this site. Once I found it difficult to knead anymore I let the dough rest covered for five minutes. After it rested it was very pliable and able to be kneaded again.

Day 3: I hurried home from work to warm the dough enough so I could shape and bake it. I shaped the miche (large ball/boule) and let it rise on a bed of corn meal on my counter. Once it rose sufficiently I slashed it then used my SuperPeel to scoop it up off the counter and deposit it in my preheated, 500 degree oven on my baking stone. Two temperature changes, one 180 degree rotation and 70 minutes later I removed my first miche from the oven. Internal temp reached 208 degrees F and it thumped nice and hollow.

Lesson number two was that the SuperPeel did a good job picking up this large ball however it stretched it lengthwise a bit more than I'd have liked it to. It may be that I'm just new to the way it works and once I develop better technique I'll not have the same issue. Not a horrible thing but I think I'll stick to parchment and a regular peel for freeform loaves and leave the SuperPeel for pizzas.

This morning I could hardly wait to slice into it and examine the crumb and taste the bread. I thumped it again and it had resonance like a drum. I cut the loaf in half and inhaled deeply. I'd love to hear from others about this but it had the aroma of unsweetened cocoa powder! Two friends that received 1/4 of the loaf both smelled it too. It didn't taste like cocoa and I guarantee there was none in there. It was very strange indeed. While I'm sure this doesn't rival anything coming out of the Poilâne bakery in France it is my most successful whole wheat loaf to date, not to mention the largest. The crumb was tight but not dense, and creamy in consistency. The crust was thick and crisp and wonderful. I'm not sure I'd make this as a miche again but I can see myself making a 2 or 3 boule run of this bread. It was a lot of work to be sure but it was worth it.

Now, here come the pictures.

Miche on peel

4 lbs 6 ounces

Cut in half

Mmmmm...crust

Crumb

Darkstar's picture
Darkstar

Well it's been since I first found TheFreshLoaf in 2006 that I posted to my bread blog. Up until recently I hadn't had much time or energy to do much baking. Couple that with my love of crusty breads and whole wheat and my wife likes non-crusty, white breads and all the married folk can understand how this variable can decrease the amount of bread time for Jason. Well I had the time recently and wanted something to challenge me and get me back in the swing of baking so I scanned the site and decided on Floyd's Pain sur Poolish recipe.

 

I don't have much experience with working high-hydration dough but the best way to learn is to do so I dove right in. I guess I was feeling cocky from finally ordering and reading BBA but I felt I could handle it or add enough flour to make it a lower hydration loaf. :)

 

I followed the recipe to the letter with minor variations caused by the weather and temperature in the Chicago area recently (freaking cold). I am pleased and proud to have turned out a lovely boule and to have achieved a crisp crust with a creamy interior; both firsts for me as I usually bake enriched breads. I was doubly pleased and proud when my wife came home and not only tried my bread but actually liked it! I quickly made another poolish and baked up a second batch the next day for around-the-office gifting this time making two smaller boules for my usual "bread-head" and a newly discovered loaf-lover. The picture below was taken of the crumb from one of the smaller loaves my "bread-head" friend devoured. I thanked her for photographing it before it was all gone.

 

Darkstar's Daily Bread

 

I got sidetracked after I baked this as my sourdough starter became ready to bake with and I made this same recipe with a cup of starter in place of some of the flour and all of the yeast. I used pieces of info from JMonkey's lesson Squeeze more sour from your sourdough and other suggestions from another site to make a very, VERY tasty loaf. I plan on doing this again to photograph as my wife and I decimated the sourdough loaf before I could take pictures of it.

 

Darkstar's picture
Darkstar

I've been passionately lurking on this site for a few months now. I have baked up a few dozen loaves and have been meaning to start up my baker-blog but never could get the stars to line up with a lovely loaf, my digital camera, AND the motivation to write down what I've done. I figured this is the easiest way to get my own personal ball rolling so without further ado, my impressions of the Fibrament baking stone.

http://www.bakingstone.com/

I read all the opinions presented in this site and my head was sent twirling. I decided that after seeing the tremendous oven-spring a simple round loaf of wheat bread got on my pizza stone (now broken due to steam) I should look into a larger, more robust piece of masonry.

I couldn't wrap my brain around anything that wasn't a large slab (IE: quarry tiles, bricks, very small rocks) so my choices seemed to be kiln-bottoms or Firbrament. I'm pleased to say I placed my order on Fibrament's WWW site very early on a Thursday morning and received my stone mid-afternoon Friday using standard shipping. (Keep in mind I work by O'Hare airport in Chicago and the Fibrament company is located on Chicago's south side but it still was GREAT turnaround)

After I seasoned the "stone" I whipped up my second attempt at FloydM's pain sur poolish and made two of the ugliest shaped loaves I've ever seen with some WONDERFUL oven spring, crust, and crumb. The ugly part was my fault as my dough stuck to my cutting board (AKA fake Peel) in spite of the corn meal I had sprinkled down to avoid such an outcome.

Bottom line, my oven fits the $66 stone and I consider it money well spent. My bread is turning out markedly better looking and I'm enjoying the "brick oven" feel without the expense of building one. To anyone trying to decide whether or not to invest in ANY type of "baking stone"-like apparatus I whole-heartedly recommend it! It will make your baking experience all the more satisfying.

 

This post and all my others are just my $.02. Thanks to the FreshLoaf community for turning me back on to a hobby that my mother started me on when I was a wee little lad with a tiny little loaf pan making bread with her.

 

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