The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


houstonwong's picture

A visit to Poilane in Paris

November 21, 2010 - 9:57am -- houstonwong



On my trip to Paris last month, I got a chance to visit the famous Poilane bakery. I've been wanting to visit it since reading about it in BBA as well as hearing what others have said about it. And finally, I had the chance so I thought I'd share with everyone.

I arrived in the neighbourhood at around 11AM on a Thursday, so it wasn't very crowded. Nice neighbourhood, btw:

rue du Cherche Midi


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Just wanted to fill you in on my latest baking installment...  I have this older German lady that lives in my building that I've been baking for for the past few years.  Once or twice a week, I will bake something, and drop it on the little table outside her door before I go to work.  She has taken a liking to my breads, in particular the dark hearty ones that reminder her of Germany...  She's been here for many year now...  She's on this weird schedule and only comes back to the city randomly... and she notified me that she would be in town only for an evening before heading back to the woods...  I had to bake something for her to take back to the woods...

I've been experimenting with pain au levains which were mostly AP flour with a WW levain.  They were about 5% rye, 10% WW and 85% AP.  I wanted to flip that around and try something like 70% WW, 20% AP, and 10% rye...  I also did not make a starter the day before, so I needed to figure out how to make a starter in a short period of time so I wouldn't have to stay up all night..  So it went something like this:

Fast Liquid Levain:

75g Rye Flour

75g WW

104g Sourdough Starter at 100% hydration preferably fed a few days ago, or the night before.

10g Honey

464g Total Liquid Levain


6:40pm - Mix liquid levain, let sit covered on counter for approx 4 hours.


Final Dough:

625g WW

200g AP

25g Rye

550g Water

24g Kosher Salt

464g Liquid Levain

1888g Total Dough Yield

10:40pm - In a large mixing bowl, place the ingredients in the following order: water, levain, flour, and salt.  Mix with large spatula until dough forms, and mix with hands to make sure all the lumps are out.  This should take about 3 minutes.  Cover and let rest.

11:00pm - Knead for 1 minute, cover and let rest.

11:20pm - Turn dough, cover and let rest.

11:40pm - Turn dough, cover and let rest.


12:00am - Divide dough into 2 equal parts, preshape into boule, let rest seam side down on work surface.

12:10am - Tighten boule, flour top, place in well floured linen lined banneton/basket, place in plastic bag and let proof.  Place 2 baking stones into oven along with steam pan in oven.  Go to bed.

5:00am - Wake up, fill steam pan with some water, put thermometer in oven, turn on oven to 500F with convection.  Make sure your kitchen windows are open for ventilation.  Go back to bed.

6:00am - Wake up, turn convection off, turn boules onto a lightly floured peel, place in oven directly on the baking stone.  When the last loaf is in, pour 1 cup water into steam pan, close door.  Turn oven down to 450F no convection.  Bake 50 minutes, taking the steam pan out at 20 minutes, and rotating the loaves between the stones at 25 minutes.  After 50 minutes, take a loaf out and check the weight and internal temp.  Should be 210F and weight 15% less than the prebaked weight.  Turn oven off and place loaves back into oven for 10 minutes.

7:00am - Take loaves out and get ready for work...

8:00am - Deliver loaf to my friend and go to work...  I left my loaf at home and didn't cut into it until today...  Here's what I found:


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

I had a friend Russ in town from LA that I haven't seen since his wedding about 5 years ago...  He finally made it out to NYC, 13 years after we had first met in college...  Funny thing is that last Christmas, I send a loaf of bread to another friend Greg in LA that we both know.  Greg was raving about it to Russ and his wife...  Anyway, many months pass, Russ finally makes it out to NYC, and his wife jokingly asks him to bug me for some bread...  Of course as an obsessive baker, I don't turn down many opportunities to bake for my friends...  I have been baking Poilane style pain au levains for the past fiew weeks trying different things with levain, flour combinations, hydrations...  I've been playing around with 68% hydrations levels which was inspired by Dominique Saibron of Le Boulanger de Monge:

He says on his website that they use 68 parts of water:

So here's recipe and process:


1576g Total flour (5% Rye/10% WW/ 85% AP)

1072g Water

38g Kosher Salt

316g Liquid Levain (100% hydration fed night before and refrigerated.  I keep mine an ever changing mix of rye, ww, AP)

3000g Approx total dough yield

Method To Madness:


4:45pm - Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl in the following order: water, levain, flour, salt.  Mix with large rubber spatula until a shaggy dough is formed.  Mix with wet hands to ensure all lumps and dry bits are gone.  Place bowl in large plastic bag and let rest.

5:00pm - Rest

5:30pm - Turn dough, divide into 2 equal pieces (1500g), transfer to lightly oiled plastic tubs, cover, let rest.

5:45pm - Turn dough, cover let rest.

8:30pm - Turn dough.

10:00pm - Turn dough.


12:40am - Shape into boule, place in well floured linen lined banneton, flour top of dough, place kitchen towel over each banneton, place bannetons into large plastic bag, proof for approx 4+ hours.  (Be sure to flour the bannetons very well as this is a very long proof with a wet-ish dough.  I had to be very careful when turning the boules out as they did stick a little and I had to be very patient for the dough to unstick itself and drop...)

5:00am - Place 2 baking stones on 2 levels along with steam pan with lava rocks.  Place a few cups of water in steam pan.  Preheat oven to 500F with convection.

6:10am - Turn off convection.  Turn boules out onto well floured peel, slash as desired, place in oven directly on stone.  When last loaf is in, place 1 1/2 cups water in steam pan, close oven door.  Turn oven down to 450F, bake for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove steam pan, rotate loaves between stones, turn oven down to 425F, bake for another 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes are done, turn off oven and leave loaves in for another 10 minutes...

7:10am - Take loaves out of oven, check internal temp and weight.  Should be around 210F and 15-20% lighter than the prebaked weight.  Cool completely before cutting and eating...

These are by far the most open crumb that I have ever achieved using levain only...  I have no complaints here other than I should have used more levain to speed up the dough...  This was about 14 hours from start to finish...



breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Just wanted to share with you a project that I am working on...  So on 8/30/10, I took delivery of 75lbs of flour from King Arthur which I ordered because they were having a free shipping on certain items.  This included their AP flour along with their WW and White WW.  What to do, what to do...  So, I baked my first full sourdough bread without adding any yeast not too long ago: with great success as far as open crumb, and crackling crust...  The flavor was very good, but there was one person who thought it wasn't salty enough or something...  Anyways, back to this project...

The previous sourdough bread was based on a liquid levain (100% hydration) which is also the hydration of my storage starter...  So my bright idea was to convert my liquid starter to a partially whole grain stiff starter at around 55% hydration...

On 9/1/10 at around 10:20pm, I threw out about half of my liquid starter, kept a small portion of it and mixed it as follows:

200g AP (King Arthur)

100g WW (King Arthur

150g Water

100g liquid sourdough storage starter (100% hydration)

550g total stiff starter yield

10:20pm - Mix all, place in covered container, let rest on counter.

12:20am - Place in refrigerator


9/2/10 - Feed Stiff Levain Again (Starter Build #2)

200g AP

100g WW

150g Water

550g All of starter from the evening before.

1000g total stiff starter yield

9:00am - Mix all, knead into ball, place into covered container, place in refrigerator.


9/3/10 - Final Dough

600g AP

200g WW

200g White WW (KA)

700g Water

24g Kosher Salt

600g Stiff Levain

2324g Total dough yield

6:18pm - Take stiff levain out of refrigerator and let rest on counter.  Give the levain the float test.  Measure out all ingredients.

Stiff levain out of refrigerator.  Notice the bubbles.

With a wet spoon, cut out a piece of the stiff levain and place it in some water to see if it floats...  If it does, it's ready to use.  For more on the float test, please check out this link:  Note point A3.

Cut up levain into pieces, place in large mixing bowl along with the measured amount of water required for the recipe.

Premeasured flours.  Note that on the bottom is the AP flour, and on the top the WW flours.

Kosher salt

All the ingredients in the bowl.  Notice that on the bottom is the water and stiff levain.  Then the whole wheat flours, the AP flour, then last on top is the Kosher salt.  This sequence is very important, and will prevent the formation of lumps or dry clumps, and dry bits stuck to the side of the bowl.

Beginning the mixing at 6:57pm.  I am using a large plastic/rubber spatula.  This is the initial mixing which takes about 30 seconds.  You can pretty much keep the spatula stationary and move the bowl at this stage.  It is just to mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.

This is probably about 1 minute of mixing.

A little more mixing.

Done mixing with rubber spatula... Now time to get wet and dirty with hands and water...

This is the dough after the following: make sure you have a bowl of water next to you...  Wet your hands and squish the dough in order to work out any lumps...  Then slap fold and roll two times.  This technique that I use is a hybrid of what Richard Bertinet does with in his sweet dough video, except I prefer to do it all in my mixing bowl to prevent getting my kitchen counter sticky and messy:

1.  Take the ball of dough by one end, let it stretch down using gravity.

2.  slap the bottom part of the dough into the bottom of the bowl.

3.  Fold the top part that you are holding into the center, and roll it into a ball in one forward motion.

4.  Rotate bowl 90 degrees and repeat.

Place entire bowl into large plastic bag, autolyse (rest) for 30 minutes...  Have a cup of coffee, tea, or beer...  I'm having beer...  Just as a note, these series of steps lasted from 6:57pm to 7:02pm, which is about 5 minutes out of your life...

Dough after 30 minute autolyse.

7:40pm - Dough after 2 slap, fold, and rolls...  Sorry for the blurry pictures.  Notice how much smoother the dough is...

Dough after about 10-15 slap, fold, and rolls...  Notice the dough tear at the bottom.  At this point when this happens, stop handling the dough, place it in plastic bag and wait for about 20-30 minutes.

8:00pm - This is the dough after the 20 minute rest, and 6 additional slap, fold, and rolls...  Place bowl in plastic bag, let rest for another 20 minutes.

8:20pm - This is the dough after the 20 minute rest.  Notice how it has spread out...

This is the dough after 2 slap, fold, and rolls...

Transfer to plastic tub lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil.  I'm sure any sort of neutral cooking oil would work.  My tub is a 4L tub, which is the smallest tub you would probaby want to use for the amount of dough this recipe makes...

Top view.  Sorry for blurry...

Added plastic wrap before putting on top.  My containers don't seal all that great.  Plus, it's insurance if the dough pops the top in the fridge...

Place in to fridge...  40F to 45F...

9:25pm - Turn dough, return to fridge...

9/3/10 - The moment of truth...

I was at work for longer than I had intended today...  Argh!

5:00pm - Do I have magical dough, or a dough explosion?

Dough Explosion!!!

Release my cornichons!!!

Dough texture shot...  Looks well fermented...  Fingers crossed...

5:00pm - After I cut off the dried bit from the exploded part, I divided the dough and shaped them into boules weighing approx 1100g.  The dough shaped nicely without tearing...  More fingers crossed...  Now for proofing for about 2 hours...

Bannettons in plastic...

5:50pm - It's pretty warm right now... 85F in the kitchen...  Proofing going well.  Turned on oven with 2 stones, steam pan.  Preheat to 550F with convection for 45 minutes to 1 hr...

7:10pm - Take the baskets out of the plastic, give it the poke test, take the thermometer out of the oven, prepare one cup of water, locate oven mitt, lame, peel, cup of flour, turn convection off...

Slash as desired...

Peel directly on to baking stone, put oven mitt on, carefully pour one cup of water in steam pan, snap picture, close oven door, turn down to 450F without convection.  Bake 50 minutes, rotating half way...

This is one of them halfway through the bake.  I rotated them, and shifted them between the upper and lower stones...  25 more minutes of baking, and then a weight and temp check...  I'm shooting for 935g or less after bake weight which puts it at a 15% weight loss, which is good...

8:00pm - Weight and temp check...  Weight around 980g, and internal temp is around 200F...  I'm looking for 210F...  Bake for another 10 minutes...

Will post crumbshots tomorrow...  Enjoy!


varda's picture

Yesterday I tried my hand at a miche after reading so much about these loaves on this site.   I must admit that I had to restrain myself from dividing it into three loaves as I was wondering what a three person household was going to do with an almost four pound loaf.  I tried Hamelman's Pointe-a-Calliere (page 164 of Bread.)   I had to make a few modifications.   I was planning to do 85% whole wheat flour, 15% AP, but ended up with around 60-40 because I was lower on whole wheat flour than I had thought.    Since I was baking in my clay oven which has a fairly narrow door, I found that the dough had grown so large that I had to make an oval rather than round loaf, and again because of the oven, I took it out after 45 minutes instead of the full hour since it was already quite cooked and would have turned into a cinder after any longer.  But I did follow the instructions to wait a full 12 hours before slicing despite my usual impatience in these matters.   And after all that?   Wow.   That is a delicious bread.   It is very hearty.   A slice with a bit of peanut butter makes a substantial meal.  But will we eat the whole thing?   I guess it depends how long it remains fresh, which I've yet to see. 



holds99's picture


I'm not really sure if there is a fixed definition for a miche.  From what I can determine, from reading baking books and information posted on the Internet, there are numerous miche formulas, ranging from exclusively whole wheat to mixed-flour.  Based on my limited research, one thing that seems to make them stand out from the crowd is their size---they're big.  The legendary French baker Lionel Poilâne, who reintroduced the miche in Paris in the 1970s created his loaves using stone-ground flour, natural fermentation and a wood-fired oven.  Mr.  Poilâne's loaves weighed 2 kilograms each (4.4 lbs).  I made mine approximately the same size.  His were round, mine are oval, because, as you can see from the oven photo, that's the only way I could get these two big guys into my oven.

"Poilâne is most famous for a round, two-kilogram sourdough country bread referred to as a miche or pain Poilâne. This bread is often referred to as wholewheat but in fact is not: the flour used is mostly so-called grey flour of 85% extraction (meaning that some but not all of the wheat bran is retained). According to Poilâne's own website, the dough also contains 30% spelt, an ancestor of wheat." [Wikipedia]

After a number of iterations I've come up with a mix of flours that I like and, for my taste, has good flavor.  I also incorporated a soaker in this version.  Anyway, here's the latest iteration. 

This recipe uses a double levain build, a total 14-18 hrs. total build, depending on room temperature (I used a tablespoon of mature culture, equal amounts all-purpose flour and water for each build (8 oz. water, 7 oz. flour)).

Final Dough

All the levain - 29 oz.

White all-purpose flour - 34 oz.

White whole wheat flour - 16 oz.

light rye flour - 7 oz.

Water -  35 oz.

Salt - 1.5 oz (2 Tb.)

Soaker (optional) 2 cups cracked rye

Total water = 51 oz (including levain)

Total flour = 71 oz (including levain)

Hydration = 71%

Note: Give the dough three (3) stretch and folds at 20 minute intervals.  Then retard it in fridge overnight or for up to 20 hours before removing and bringing to room temp. After the dough reaches room temp. (approx. 2 hrs.) divide, shape and place in bannetons seam side up.  Allow to nearly double in volume (finger poke test) and turn out of bannetons onto parchment lined baking pans sprinkled heavily with semolina flour.  Score the loaves and bake in preheated (475 deg. over) with steam.  After 10 minutes reduce heat to 450 deg.  Bake for 40-50 min. Check for an internal temp. of [EDIT] 205-210 deg.

Cool on wire racks.

jennyloh's picture

Somehow,  my miche was NOT quite a miche,  as it had a darker brown.  I wonder if my flour has a mixed of rye,  it turns my bread dark brown.  I went into the website - Aurora - Weizen Vollkornmehl.  But there was no indication of rye mix,  it just indicated whole grain whole wheat.  I guess it has more bran than other whole wheat flour?

My bread cracked up as well,  I guess because I baked it cold,  and its suppose to flat out,  but I put it into a claypot?

Perhaps someone can enlighten me?


The crumbs were denser than I like.  Somehow, most of my whole wheat breads turn out like that,  I've changed my technique to stretch and fold,  the white breads turn out very very well,  but not whole wheat.  Why?  Do I have to do more stretch and fold?  



Last question:  We seldom eat wholemeal bread.  What does wholemeal bread goes well with besides cheese?


More details - click here.



ZD's picture


This weekends fun.

Home Bolted High Extration Hard Red Spring Wheat Miche


1050g Flour
578g Water
525g Leaven 100% hydration
26g Salt

Mix ingredients. Stir until there are no more dry spots. Autolyse for 60 minutes.

Fold  wait 30 minutes fold again. Bulk proof until almost double. Shape and proof

until just right. Preheat oven and stone to 500°F. Turn down to 450°F and steam

for 15 minutes. Turn down to 350°F and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool and enjoy.


 edit typo

dmsnyder's picture

This weekend I made a miche with Gérard Rubaud's flour mix for the first time. It's nowhere near as beautiful as the ones with which Shiao-Ping introduced Rubaud's formula to TFL, but it is delicious. The miche does seem to have a more mellow flavor than the other breads I've made with this flour mix, but then I didn't slice and taste it for a good 15 hours after it was baked.

The flour mix and formula I used was ...

Gérard Rubaud Pain au Levain


Baker's %

Total Dough

Flour 1 – AP



Flour 2 – WW



Flour 3 – Spelt



Flour 4 – Rye




Total Dough: 

Baker's %











Conversion factor





Baker's %














Final Dough: 

Baker's %


















I also made a couple 1 lb boules of the San Francisco Sourdough from "Advanced Bread & Pastry" by Michel Suas. It was an extremely extensible dough, made this time with WFM AP Flour (non-organic. They were out of the organic). I retarded the loaves overnight but wanted to give them an early start, so I took them out of the fridge and turned on my oven when I first got to the kitchen this morning.


I trust you correctly inferred this was done before my first cup of coffee. Always risky. 


Well, I did have my baking stone in the oven when I turned it on but not my steaming setup. I discovered this when the loaves were ready to load, of course. I did give the oven a series of spritzes with a spray bottle, but my result was a nice illustration of why we bake with steam. So, for your interest ...


Note the dull crust and the modest bloom and spring.


I haven't cut it yet. I'm sure it's fine eating, but beautiful it ain't.






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