The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


pmccool's picture

I have been on a baking hiatus, of sorts, realizing that the stash of bread in my freezer needed to be reduced.  Having worked through that gradually, I finally got around to baking again the weekend before Labor Day.

What my mouth wanted was something robust, chewy, mildly tangy, and thoroughly wheaty.  And it had to serve as a reliable foundation for sandwiches.  What to do, what to do?  Leader's Local Breads beckoned, and in it I found the Whole Wheat Sourdough Miche, modeled loosely after the Poilane miche.  After checking the metric weight quantities (which are generally less error prone than the others in this book) and deciding that it was safe to proceed, I hauled my starter out of the refrigerator and gave it a couple of good feeds.  It didn't take long for the starter to bounce back to vigorous health, especially with kitchen temperatures just slightly below the 80F mark.  It more than doubled in less than 5 hours!  

For once, I stuck pretty closely to the formula and process.  The one deviation of note was that I dissolved the levain in the water before adding the rest of the final dough ingredients.  Since I mix by hand, I find it easier to do that than to mix the levain into the already-mixed dough as Leader instructs.  Other than making my life easier, I don't see that it makes any real difference in the outcome.  Because of the warmth of my kitchen that day, I did have to trim fermentation times to avoid over-fermenting the levain and the final dough.

The outcome, by the way, was stunning!  A deep, brown-verging-on-black crust, lightly crackled; a firm, moist crumb; a heady aroma redolent of toast with sweet and tangy overtones.  I can't remember a recent bake that I was happier with than this.  And then there is the flavor!  It was everything the fragrance promised, and more.  Roasted nuts and malt, a gentle hint of acidity, a down to earth wheatiness, and other good things that I don't have words for.  The crust, after cooling, was more leathery than crisp but that played well against the moist coolness of the firm crumb.  The crumb texture is rather fine-grained for this style of bread; that comes from the extended kneading that Leader recommends.  Frankly, I didn't knead it as long as he recommends and I might even cut it back to just a couple of minutes of kneading for future bakes, combined with more stretch and folds to build strength.  That would open the crumb somewhat, but not to the point that condiments would be oozing out of sandwiches.

Here's a picture, which doesn't do the bread justice:

Good stuff, even if it is me that says so!

Both our daughters and their families were with us for the Labor Day weekend, which gave me the excuse to do some additional baking.  The tally for the weekend included Portugese Sweet Bread as rolls for barbecue pork sandwiches, sourdough English muffins for one morning's breakfast, and lemon oat scones for another breakfast.  Fun!

Now I need to finish testing the breads that I plan to teach at the Culinary Center of Kansas City, starting in November.  More fun!


CaptainBatard's picture

With my bread supply almost depleted and my neighbors arriving for their monthly visit to there retreat… I charged up my stiff Levain and was ready to conquer another recipe from Local Breads for my weekly bread. I thumbed through the chapter with stiff dough levain recipes and to my complete surprise, I baked them all! I did not have time to convert the waiting stiff levain to a liquid one…so I went into the pantry to inventory my baking supplies and discovered I had lots of high extraction flour, spelt and an unopened bag of quinoa (never used it before in pain).  And with that the experiment was on.  The first thing that came to mind was a giant Poilane-inspired Miche with mixed flours …. while the other side of my brain was saying “try something sure-fire, something to share with your neighbors.” Well -- throwing caution to the wind -- I went for the Miche! I wrote out the recipe and doubled it substituting some (approx. 1/3) of the whole wheat flour for the spelt and quinoa…and then adding a smidgen of rye.  After an hour of antolyse, and another 15 minutes of slapping and smearing a very slack dough into workable dough, I took a breather and wiped the sweat for my brow.

When I returned to my experiment rejuvenated by a good cup of strong French style coffee, I uncovered the dough to find the once taut boule was now, shall we say, relaxed and spread out on the counter . . . ugggh.  As I started to panic I heard a voice in my head saying “you can never over knead a dough by hand”.  So I continued the French kneading for another ten minutes, did a window pane test, and it passed the test!  I threw the still slack dough into a bowl for one hour to ferment, crossed my fingers and hung my laundry out to dry. After two series of stretch and folds in the bowl, I covered it back up and put it into the 76° proofing chamber for two hours before shaping. Shaping the slack dough into a miche was a little more artful than I had planned for…but these loaves gently made their way into the linen lined bowl and banneton for the final two hour proofing. And that was my big mistake!

When I finally looked in after two hours, it had more than doubled and looked like a pillowy, bowl of loose Jell-O full of air bubbles. Because of the size of the boules…and the size of my oven…I put the smaller one in the fridge to slow things down, and gently turned the other out onto a piece of parchment paper, slashing it swiftly with four crossing lines. The only thing that comes to mind when trying to describe the sensation of slashing the miche,  is the feeling you have when running over a nail on your bike…first you hear the pop and then you see it slowly deflate.  Sound familiar?

Feeling a bit deflated myself…I placed the miche in the awaiting, steamy oven for its trial by fire!  As I peered through the glass of the oven door, I was a bit relieved to see the loaf making a bit of a comeback.  Although it did have a little oven spring, it wasn’t what I was hoping for.  Though it wasn’t a pancake, let’s just say it had a low profile, something more similar to a Pointe-à-Callière Miche!  After baking the other loaf and letting it cool, I cut into the small loaf to see the outcome. The tan crumb was riddled with small even bubbles, the crust was crisp and brittle….and the taste was even better than I expected. It had a very moist, creamy mouth feel with a bit of a tang, but not too much for my French neighbors' pallets …they really enjoyed it.  I will be very curious to see how the flavor transforms over the next couple of days of eating. This is one I definitely will have to revisit again!

Thing to remember next time:

  • Try pre-fermenting some of the spelt and quinoa...
  • Hold back some of the water in the initial mix (I knew that), you can always add it to get the necessary consistency.
  • May be leave out the autolyse?
  • Either lower the temperature for the final proofing or cut it back to one hour.

If you want to see the recipe and MORE are just a click away...


freerk's picture

Miche Poilâne

May 12, 2011 - 1:57pm -- freerk

Tomorrow, Friday the 13th, my sis is celebrating her  50th... go figure :-)


Showing up without bread on my family's doorstep just isn't an option any more.


Since there's a big crowd expected for the birthday bash, I figured I needed something... substantial. And what is more substantial than a Miche Poilâne that can actually stand on its own :-)


I proofed this heavy-weight in my creuset and when I was about to transfer it to the peel decided to leave it right where it was, sort of liking the "push up" the skillet gave the boule.


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


Aivaras's picture

There are couple miches I have baked.

2.9Kg JT's 85x3 Miche.


One of the largest breads I have made. Pretty much the same as MC interpretation, only I didn't retard and hydration was lower, about 65%.

1.5Kg Gerard Rubaud Miche.

35% starter (55% hydration, GR flour mixture 70% T55, 18% sifted T150, 9% T80 spelt and 3% sifted T150 rye), overall hydration 65-68%. First fermentation 4 hours, proof about 2 hours.

2.2Kg T80 Miche.

T80 flour, 30% starter (~60% hydration), overall hydration 65%, first fermentation about 3 hours, proof 2 hours.

2.2Kg Poilane Miche.

70% T80, 30% T80 spelt, 35% starter (55% hydration), overall hydration 65%. First fermentation 3 hours, proof about 2 hours.

2.2Kg Organic WW and Spelt Miche.

70% very finely sifted Organic Stone Ground T150 flour and 30% Organic T80 spelt flour. 25% starter (55% hydration), overall hydration 65%. First fermentation 4.5 hours, proof 2 hours.

1.8Kg Pain a l'Ancienne.

50% T55 flour, 45% sifted T150 flour, 4.5% spelt, 0.5% malted barley flour, everything else as described by Shiao-Ping.


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Just wanted to share with you some recent bakes.  Enjoy!  Sorry no recipes.  Please bug me if you want any of them.


4/2/10 - Pane Casereccio di Genzano, Poilane style miche, Olive Bread.  The olive bread did not turn out well...  Sorry no crumbshots for these.

4/4/10 - Cottage Loaves

4/6/10 - Pane di Matera (Durum bread).  This is my poor attempt at this bread.  It's really difficult to shape.  Mine looked horrible, but they tasted pretty good...  More info here: and here:

4/7/10 - Breadcrumb Bread...  This is another attempt at doing the Pane di Matera shape, very slightly more successfully, but not quite there yet...

4/8/10 - Olive Bread...  Sorry no crumbshot...  My friends said it tasted really good...

4/11/10 - Pizza.  Mushroom, and Artichoke, and Jamon Serrano...

SallyBR's picture

Ready to attempt my first Poilane....

March 19, 2009 - 5:38am -- SallyBR

I have lived in Paris for several years and of course enjoyed my Poilane bread quite often. Ever since I started baking bread regularly, I flirt with the idea of making a home-version of Poilane.

I have Bread Baker's Apprentice - so that is one possibility to try, however, I seem to have mixed results with recipes from that book and would love to have some feedback from the experts here.

I searched the forum for entries on Poilane and there is quite a few -


gaaarp's picture

Weekend Bake - Anadama Bread and Poilane-style Miche

November 30, 2008 - 8:16pm -- gaaarp

This weekend I baked Reinhart's Anadama Bread and the Poilane-style Miche featured on the cover of BBA.  Someone mentioned the Anadama recipe in another post, and I remembered making it years ago from a Better Homes recipe.  Needless to say, the BBA recipe is head-and-shoulders above my old one.

Darkstar's picture

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




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