The Fresh Loaf

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

We have had a stimulating and instructive discussion of methods of replicating the effects of commercial oven steam injection in home ovens. (See http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7192/humidity-versus-steam#comment-36522) I found it interesting that many home bakers have found coving the loaf during the first half of the bake to yield the best results - better oven spring, crisper, thinner crust, etc. So, I had to try it.

 

My first attempt was with a bread I have made many times - Jeff Hamelman's "Miche, Ponte-a-Calliere." I made it with King Arthur Flour's First Clear Flour. There would not have been room in the oven to bake two loaves, even if I had divided the dough, so there is no experimental control, other than my past experience. I baked this miche covered with the bottom of a large, oval enameled metal roasting pan for 30 minutes, then removed the pan and finished the baking for another 25 minutes.

 

The results:

Ponte-a-Calliere Miche

Ponte-a-Calliere Miche 

Ponte-a-Calliere Miche Crumb

Ponte-a-Calliere Miche Crumb 

My conclusion is that this bread has as good a crust and crumb as any I've made but is not substantially different from the miches I've baked using hot water poured into a hot cast iron skillet after transferring the loaf to the baking stone. The crumb is a little less open than I wanted, but the dough was less slack. The weather has warmed up, and the flour was probably dryer. I should have added a bit more water.

David 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Miche, Ponte-a-Calliere


Miche, Ponte-a-Calliere


Miche, Ponte-a-Calliere crumb


Miche, Ponte-a-Calliere crumb

 

I have made Hamelman's Miche, Ponte-a-Calliere several times. It has been one of my favorites. My previous breads have used 100% First Clear flour from King Arthur.

Several other bakers had enthused about Golden Buffalo flour from Heartland Mill, and their description made it sound ideal for this Miche, so that's what I tried for my first baking with this flour.

Golden Buffalo is more coarsely ground than most bread flours, other than pumpernickel. It absorbs lots of water. I followed Hamelman's formula however, resulting in a dryer dough than using First Clear. It was quite tacky, but not really a slack dough.

The crust color is really nice, I think. The crumb, while not as open as it is meant to be, is still nice and the chew is wonderful. It tasted really good 2 hours after baking. I bet it will taste even better today.

 Next time, I'm going for higher hydration and, if I remember, I will make a soaker with at least part of the flour, as suggested by bwraith.

David

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

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Retsel Mill and Brass Sieves

Home Mill High Extraction Sourdough Miche

JMonkey's many blog entries on whole wheat, as well several other TFLer's posts, helped me learn to make whole grain breads that are light and flavorful, rather than the rocks and bricks I had thought were inevitable with whole wheat. Then, Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads came out, and I learned more about the reasons for soakers and mashes and gave mash bread a try. Then, I read some posts by Ron, who has posted passionately about whole grains and pushed me to think about trying home milling. Finally, Goetter mentioned stone milling at home with his Retsel, which he said was easy to clean and use, and I was off and running. I just recently received my Retsel Mil-Rite, and I'm happy to say it works just great - quite fast (5 pounds/hr for reasonably finely milled flour) and easy to clean if you need a few pounds of freshly milled whole grain flour.

However, unlike many or most of the home milling aficionados, I am as interested in traditional methods and recipes as I am in the nutritional aspects of bread. As such, I do want to be able to create "high extraction flour" or maybe even some regular bread flour from my whole grain berries to satisfy interests in country style miches and other types of bread that may call for other than pure whole wheat flour. In order to accomplish that, the flour needs to be sifted. MiniOven mentioned brass sieves, and some internet searches revealed a number of places. I finally purchased a range of brass sieves from number 18 through 120 from http://www.lmine.com, hoping to experiment with them to extract more refined flours from my freshly milled whole grain flour. While conversing with the people at Legend Mine, they said it would be backbreaking to sift very much flour by hand, and that I should consider a "sieve shaker". I don't have the sieve shaker yet, but it will arrive soon.

Sieve Shaker

Meanwhile, I went through a laborious process of discovering the right coarseness of grind and which sieves to use. I found that I could get very reasonable results by setting the mill stone adjustment to be just slightly looser than finger tight. The flour coming out was fairly fine - good for a whole wheat bread flour. Yet, it had some percentage of larger particles. I then successively sifted the flour through my #20, #40, and #60 sieves. The #20 caught large particles of bran, about 5% of the weight. The #40 sieve caught smaller particles of bran and other dark parts of the kernel - probably some of the germ from the look of it, with a weight of about 15%. The #60 sieve was catching what I would call a very dark flour, probably some combination of bran, germ, and outer endosperm, about another 15% of the weight. What came out of the bottom of the #60 sieve was very nice bread flour, creamy and slightly dark colored. I'm sure that flour from # 60 would have made a delicious whitish bread. So, the sifting is nowhere near where it could be with a shaker and will never be anything close to the perfect filtering done by commercial mills. However, for my purposes, even this very spur-of-the-moment hand processing was enough to get 65% fresh, creamy, bread flour.

As for grain, I ordered 25 lbs. of Wheat MT Prairie Gold, 25 lbs. of Wheat MT Bronze Chief, 10 lbs. of their wheat berries (hard red winter wheat berries, I think), and 5 lbs. each of spelt and rye berries. I stored them in 6 gallon buckets with screw on hermetically sealed lids and placed oxygen absorbers in the buckets. A 6 gallon bucket comfortably holds 25 lbs. of grain with enough room for the screw-on lid. All the storage buckets and lids were purchased form http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com.

Although the Retsel appears to be more than adequate in retrospect, I went off the deep end ealier in the week and ordered a Meadows 8 inch mill also. This one will grind much faster and hopefully won't be too hard to clean.

To create my high extraction flour, I just took the finest 85% that came out of my sifting, which amounted to all of the bread flour (throughs from the #60), all of the throughs from the #40 (a darker semolina-like flour), and some of the throughs from the #20 sieve (very dark, very coarse), such that I had 85% of the total weight of all the flour that I sifted. I then ran the coarser flours back through the mill at a fairly fine setting, which resulted in making those coarse components much more finely milled. I mixed them in with the good bread flour coming out of the #60 sieve, and that is what I used as my "high extraction flour".

I also finely milled enough spelt and rye to make 55g of whole rye flour and 105g of whole spelt flour. I just mixed all the rye and spelt berries together and ran them through the mill once.

I then made my high extraction miche, along the lines of a Thom Leonard Country French with a spelt and rye levain. The overall recipe is 15% fermented flour in a spelt and rye levain, mixed with a soaker of the high extraction flour with 1% malt syrup, 2% flour, and 1 tbsp of diastatic barley powder.

Some photos of the process are posted. Spreadsheets are posted in xls and html format.

Levain:

  • 30g firm storage starter (any starter will work - use 25% more batter starter or about 50% more liquid starter)
  • 52g whole rye flour
  • 104g whole spelt flour

I mixed this starter at 12:45AM after a night of much experimentation and exercise manually sifting about 10 cups of grain into 40 samples from the sieves trying to figure out the best settings for the mill. The levain was designed to rise by double and ferment an hour or so more by 9:00 AM.

Soaker:

  • 10g diastatic malt powder
  • 15g malt syrup
  • 30g salt
  • 1024g water
  • 1300g home milled and manually sifted high extraction flour

I mixed the soaker in a large bowl using a scraper until it was reasonably well mixed. The mixing was done at about 1:00AM and the soaker was refrigerated overnight.

Dough:

At 9:00AM in the morning, the soaker was spread out on a wet counter like a great big pizza. The levain was chopped into marshmallow-sized pieces which spread evenly over the soaker and pressed into the dough with the palms of my wet hands. The dough was rolled up and folded a few times, squished all through with wet hands a few times, rolled a couple of times, and placed in my DLX mixer. The dough was mixed/kneaded in the DLX mixer on low to medium for 4 minutes, allowed to rest for 4 minutes, and then mixed for 4 more minutes.

Bulk Fermentation and Folding

The dough was allowed to rise at a temperature of approximately 74F in a cabinet above my coffee machine. Initially the temperature was around 70, but by the end of the bulk fermentation the temperature was up to about 76F. During the bulk fermentation, I folded the dough at 10:40AM, 11:40AM, and 12:40AM. The total bulk fermentation time was 5.25 hours at roughly 74F.

Shaping and Proofing

One large boule was formed at 2:15PM, allowed to sit for 15 minutes on the counter, and turned upside down into one of those San Francisco Baking Institute lined baskets (12" diameter). I dusted the loaf and the basket liner with some of the bran and semolina-like flour from my siftings mixed with a small amount of rice flour. In retrospect, since the dough was not that hydrated (77%), it wasn't necessary to use the rice flour. I could have just used some of my home sifted bran and nothing else.

The basket was placed in a large ZipLoc "Big Bag" with a warm bowl of water and sealed. The proofing temperature was about 75F. I slashed with cross-hatch pattern and baked at 5PM for a total mix to bake time of 8 hours, and a proofing time, starting from 2:15PM of 2:45.

Bake

The loaf was baked in my brick oven. The oven was fired earlier and allowed to cool to a hearth temperature of about 450F. I sprayed the loaves with an orchid mister, sprayed the chamber of the oven until it was full of steam (20 seconds), and sealed the door with my wooden wet towel covered door. The bread was rotated every 15 minutes for a total of about 50 minutes bake time. The oven door was left open after 20 minutes, and the hearth temperature dropped to about 400F at the end of the bake.

To do this in a kitchen oven, heat oven to 450F, create steam however you do it, and then drop the oven temperature to about 400F. If the loaf becomes too dark, cover with foil and/or drop the temperature to 350F. Allow to thoroughly bake, so the color of the crust is uniformly dark but hopefully not burnt and the internal temperature is above 205F.

Cool

Allow to completely cool before cutting - several hours at least.

Results

The miche has a color that is darker than my usual whole wheat loaves, which may be partly because my sifting wasn't that efficient, partly because the extraction rate may be higher than for Golden Buffalo, which I would normally use for this application, and maybe just the nature of freshly milled flour, which I've never tried before. The texture is definitely lighter and softer than I expect from a whole grain, so the high extraction worked in that sense. The flavor is closer to a whole grain loaf than I expected. If I want a more mild white flour flavor, it may mean using less of the darker, larger particles, i.e. use a slightly lower extraction rate. By the way, the aroma of the fresh flour when mixed with water is most definitely better than anything I've smelled using commercial flour. Everyone in the house commented on the great aroma coming from the dough and the bread. I do believe the flavor and aroma of the bread is enhanced by the freshness of the milling, something commented on by many on the site.

The Next Phase

When I receive my Meadows mill and the sieve shaker, the next phase of the project will be to discover the right settings of the mills and sieves to gain a more efficient separation of the particles from the milling.

Meadows 8 Inch Light Commercial or Home Mill

But Why Did I Do This?

OK, part of it is just fun with gadgets. However, there are several objectives beyond that. One very significant motivation is that I haven't been very happy with the availability of other than white flour or whole wheat flour. I'd like to be able to create flours with various characteristics in the amount I need when I need it. Also, any flour other than white flour will probably have spoilage issues if kept for too long. So, rather than buy a few pounds of some specific flour, pay a lot for shipping, and then use a small amount and throw out the rest when it spoils, I can create the desired flours to order. Much of the bran can be used for dusting or added to cereal, and even the middlings may be tossed into oatmeal or toasted and used in place of wheat germ, as suggested in the Essential's Columbia recipe. If I can make the process convenient and fast, then it will be easier and cheaper in the long run to occasionally buy bulk amounts of a few different berries, as I already just did. Storage is easy for the berries, and they stay fresh for a very long time in berry form.

The result is a drastic improvement in the freshness of my flours, very little waste or spoilage, and much lower cost. I seem to spend upwards of $4/pound including shipping for small quantities to get particular flours I want over the internet. The berries, purchased mostly in 25 lb. quantities, came to less than $2/pound, even if I'm very particular and buy from Wheat MT or Heartland Mill. It could be much less if I can find sources for high quality berries locally. However, it's not a bad guess to say I lose close to half my purchased whole grain flours to spoilage. I could offset the spoilage with flour freezing strategies, but I just think this home milling approach is better. No freezing, easy to use screw-on lids on buckets of grain, and absolutely fresh flour to order. At least, that's what I'm shooting for.

It's true that the cost of the mill and sifting equipment won't be offset by the lower cost of the berries for something like 2-3 years. However, for me the home milling approach is still justified because of the freshness, flexibility of flours I can generate, and the convenience of storing berries. The fact the lower cost will allow for the recover of the cost of the equipment even if it takes a few years is just an added benefit.

Of course, the benefits above are theoretical. Maybe after the next phase, I'll conclude it's not possible to produce the desired flour characteristics with simple sieves and a small stone mill. However, the first phase was almost sufficient, other than the excessive physical effort required to manually sift the flour. If I can make the separation work a little better by discovering the right series of millings and siftings, which should be far easier to do with the sieve shaker, I'm hopeful the results will justify doing it regularly going forward.

umbreadman's picture
umbreadman

Three Breads. One Day.

Loaf 1: ~5lb Sourdough High Extraction Miche Type loaf

Loaf 2: Garlic Explosion (Garlixplosion?) W/ Cheese

Loaf 3: Spinach and Feta Cheese with Caramelized Onions.

They were all around 65-70% hydration doughs, all with a small amount of sourdough culture thrown in as a preferment/leavening. The miche was leavened solely by the sourdough, I added some active dry yeast to the other two.

PICTURES!!!

Garlic!! SO MUCH GARLIC!! (Many liked it. A few picked out the cloves. One was weak, and just barely finished her piece. Muahahahahaha!!!) I used shredded cheddar and parmesan cheeses here, since they were already in our fridge, though I think that it would indeed be better with chunks. On the other hand, the cheese that was at the crust gave a fantastically unusually textured, but tasty crust. It was thick, but not hard, and was kinda flakey. I can't really describe it well, but it was very strange/good. I also added dried rosemary and ground oregano to it, but I would very much prefer fresh herbs to dried / powders.

Spinach/Feta/Onion. A little weak on the salty/feta taste. The cheese didn't pack the flavor I was used to from feta cheese, so I think next time I will go with a French feta, as opposed to this greek style, and in a larger quantity. Very spinachy flavor though. This had about 25% chopped spinach, drained, by flour weight. It sprung up well, but I was hoping for a bit more. Maybe longer proof/more yeast next time.

Spinach Exterior. A bit dark. I've found that my loaves get quite dark before they're fully baked, and I wait longer with the temperature turned down at the end after at hot start. Maybe if I started it at a lower temp? Or turned it down sooner?

Inside the MICHE! This guy was huge. I think 5lbs of dough is my largest boule yet. This one took quite a while to bake, I think it was over an hour. Since I'm baking for a lot of people, I figured I would make this unflavored bread in a large amount. Aaaannndddd I felt like one loaf would be easier to deal with than 2-3. Hence, this. Someone said it was the size/weight of a newborn child. I think I'll name it alfred.

It surprised me. I slashed it in a circular sort of 8pointed compass style, and it expanded beyond that, splitting down the middle. You know alfred, I'm sorry I even tried. Clearly you didn't want to cooperate, so you went and did your own thing. I thought it might look nice the way I cut you, but no, you HAD to disagree. Now you look like some kind of tribal, african mask, and I can't even claim that it was my idea.....oh how can I stay mad at you? You're so tasty.....(i think alfred is now 2/3 of its original size...ish.)

The Triforce. Garlic in front. Spinach to the left, Miche on the right. Hungry onlookers out of frame.

I would really like to figure out how to have the bread color and be fully baked at the same time. I've been using a stone and preheating to about 425-450 or so and then turning it down about 15-20 minutes in....which might be my problem. Maybe if I start it slightly lower, or didn't wait so long to drop the temperature...

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Miche with Spelt and Rye Levain

Miche with Spelt and Rye Levain - Closeup

Zolablue, a frequent TFL contributor, encouraged me to try the Thom Leonard Country French recipe in Artisan Baking by Glezer. This recipe is a variation that incorporates some of the things I have liked in other miche recipes. For example, I am using Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo flour as the main flour, but spelt and rye are added in the levain, and there is some additional whole wheat added with a soaker. The hydration is lower than most of the other miche recipes I've tried or blogged here on TFL, which gives it a slightly more regular, dense crumb that is excellent for sandwiches or for holding honey or any wetter toppings. It is a robust texture, as opposed to a very light, irregular, open structure.

Spreadsheets in xls and html format are posted with weights in ounces, bakers percentages, and other possibly useful information. Some photos of the process are posted, as well.

Levain:

  • 10g white flour paste consistency starter (I used my 90% hydration white flour starter) Use about 8 grams of 60% hydration firm starter.
  • 58g whole rye flour
  • 119g whole spelt flour
  • 141g water

The levain is designed to rise for about 12 hours at 70F. At 76F, the levain would be ready in about 8 hours. At 65F it would be ready in about 17 hours. You can let the levain rise by double and refrigerate it if you want to make it in advance. It can be used after 1-2 days without changing the results of this recipe very much.

Soaker:

  • 203g whole wheat flour (I used Wheat MT Bronze Chief)
  • 203g water

The soaker was mixed the night before and allowed to sit on the counter overnight at about 70F. Refrigerate unless you plan to use it within 12 hours.

Dough:

  • 1 tsp diastatic malted barley powder
  • 15g malt syrup
  • 27g salt
  • 721g water
  • 203g AP flour (I used KA Organic AP)
  • 763g high extraction flour (I used Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo)

Mix and Knead

The dough was initially mixed/kneaded in a DLX mixer on low/medium speed for about 8 minutes. It was allowed to rest in the mixing bowl for about 1/2 hour and then kneaded in the mixer for another 5 minutes. The dough was dropped on the counter and folded into a ball and placed in a rising bucket. It was placed in a warm area, about 76F, for the bulk fermentation, which should run about 4.25 hours at 75F. The bulk fermentation should take about 6 hours at 70F or 8.5 hours at 65F.

Folding

The dough is fairly firm with the very water absorpent Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo and whole rye at a 79% hydration. At this consistency, the dough is stiff enough that it resists much folding, so it was folded only once about 1.5 hours before shaping.

Shaping and Final Proof

A boule was formed and allowed to sit on the counter for 10 minutes to seal the seams. Note, the loaf doesn't rise by double during bulk fermentation. The loaf was placed upside down in a lined round wicker basket style banneton dusted with a mixture of semolina, rice, and bread flour. The loaf was also dusted with the dusting mixture plus a small amount of bran. The basket and a bowl of warm water was placed in a Ziploc "Big Bag" and allowed to rise for 3.5 hours at 75F. Allow 4.5 hours at 70F for the final proof or 6.5 hours at 65F.

Peeling and Scoring

The boule was turned out on a piece of semolina and corn meal dusted parchment paper on a large peel and slashed with a cross-hatch pattern.

Bake

This loaf was baked in a brick oven after some focaccias were baked, as noted in another blog entry recently. The hearth temperature had dropped to about 485F, and the air temperature was about 425F. The oven was steamed using a very fine garden sprayer designed for orchids (1/6 gal/minute, by Foggit) and sealed with a towel covered wooden door for 15 minutes. It was then rotated and sealed with a metal door thereafter for a total bake time of about 1 hour. The hearth temperature dropped to about 445F at the end of the bake.

To do the same thing in the kitchen oven, I would use a stone and preheat the oven to 500F and steamed according to your favorite method. I use a cast iron skillet and place a special can with a small hole drilled in it with about 1 cup of water that dribbles out creating steam in the oven for about 10 minutes. I drop the oven temperature to 450F for the first 15 minutes, immediately after adding the water, and then drop the temperature to about 400F or lower, for the rest of the bake, monitoring the crust color and dropping the temperature further to avoid charred crust.

Cool

Allow to fully cool on a rack before cutting.

Results

This is a great loaf for any juicy ingredients, or things like honey, mayo, and whatnot. It's more dense and chewy than other miches I've blogged on TFL. It has a nutty, toasty, and slightly sweet flavor, I believe due to the spelt, and is a little crunchy due to the crisp thick crust that has a little bran encrusted in it, and maybe also from the added whole wheat.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Yet another miche I baked last night...

miche

The sad thing is I'm just going to chop this up and let it dry out to make stuffing out of it. Yes, it is cheaper and easier for me to do this than go buy a bag of bread crumbs at the store. Besides, this will taste considerable better I am sure.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The Gingerbread I baked last night I did not bake long enough, so the ends were done (and quite tasty) but I threw away the majority of it. So sad.

However, the miche I baked Monday night came out fantastic.

miche

Pretty, pretty loaf.

dmsnyder's picture

Leader's Pain au Levain Complet (a la Poilane)

October 20, 2007 - 10:49pm -- dmsnyder

I have made Peter Reinhart's Poilane-style miche many times, but this was my first attempt at Daniel Leader's version. The formulas are different in a number of ways. Leader uses autolyse, which Reinhart does not, and does not use cold retardation of either the starter or the formed miche, which Reinhart does. Leader uses a higher hydration dough and folding an hour into bulk fermentation.

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