The “Miche, Pointe-à-Callière” from Jeffrey Hamelman's “Bread” is one of my favorite breads. I've made it a great many times. But I have a confession to make: I've never made it with the proper hydration level.
It started out by my finding one of the very rare errors in this marvelous book. Hamelman's ingredient list in the “Home” version of the Final Dough calls for “1 lb., 6.4 oz (2 ¼ cups)” of water. Now, 2 ¼ cups of water weighs less than this. I initially assumed the volume measurement was correct, and I used 1 lb., 2 oz. of water. You know, this made an outstanding bread. It did have more oven spring and a higher profile than expected, but the crumb was nice and open with large holes, and it tasted great, so I kept using my “corrected” formula.
Now, “Bread” has been such a reliable book, I always doubted my solution. Finally, I compared the ingredient quantities in the 3 listings Hamelman gives with the baker's percentages he gives. It turns out that the error was really in the volume measurement, not the weight. The home recipe should call for 2 ¾ cups of water, which is 1 lb., 6.4 oz.
So, today, for the first time, I made the Miche at the 82% hydration called for in Hamelman's formula.
At the higher hydration level, this dough is not just slack. It is truly gloppy. Hamelman says to mix it 2 to 2 ½ minutes (in a professional spiral mixer) to get “moderate gluten development.” I mixed it in a Bosch Universal Plus for 17 minutes to get something less than “moderate” gluten development. Hamelman then calls for 2 or 3 folds during a 2 ½ hour bulk fermentation. I implemented the “stretch and fold in the bowl” approach and did 30 folds at 30 minute intervals over 2 hours, then I let the dough proof for another 45 minutes. (This is much like the method McGuire uses in his “Pain de Tradition,” as Shiao-Ping has shared with us. Since the Miche, Pointe-à-Callière is also a McGuire bread, according to Hamelman, using this method seemed entirely reasonable.)
I “shaped” the miche by dumping the dough onto a heavily floured board and folding the edges to the center. I made 6-8 folds. The loaf was then transferred to a linen-lined, floured banneton and proofed for 2 hours and baked with steam.
I am cooling the miche overnight before slicing.
This miche still has a higher profile than those pictured in Hamelman.
The crumb is about right, but, interestingly, I've gotten more open crumbs on previous bakes using somewhat lower hydration. My hunch is that the difference is related to how I did the bulk fermentation.