My kids' God Mother came to visit. It was a relaxing Friday night drink on the balcony. The night was clear and the breezes were cool. Autumn has finally arrived.
The cool night reminded me of my visit to New Jersey, the USA, to see my junior high school friend in the fall of 1997. We were so close back then in school that she often came home with me after school. My Mother would feed her and they would speak a dialect between them that made me a foreigner. Several years after she finished her masters in economics, she became a top currency trader with an intuition for market movements, something that could only be born with, not learned. I could not remember what the circumstances were that the live recording of Bee Gees "One Night Only" tour was playing on her big screen TV in her New Jersey home. The concert was held in November of that year in Las Vegas to celebrate Bee Gees' songs starting 30 years before. It brought back both of our memories then. The very, very first English song that I have ever heard when I was in my teens was a sound track by Bee Gees from a 1971 movie "Melody."
To this day, Bee Gees remains one of my favourite music groups. Bee Gees has nothing to do with my T110 Miche, except that the "One Night Only" CD was what was playing on my tea room B & O when I was uploading the bread photos below. This miche is close to everything I wanted in a miche. The flavour is better than that of my Gerard Rubaud miche. The only imperfection from my own standpoint is that it should have been ready in day time to allow me to take better shots without relying on my kitchen halogen lights that cast an unnatural yellowish tinge on all crumbs.
Stats of this miche
- 100% stone-ground organic T110 flour (including the flour in the starter)
- 250 grams of 65% starter (last fermentation 6 hours at around 25 ºC)
- Total dough weight 1.5 kg and overall hydration 75%
- Bulk fermentation 3 hours with 5 sets of double letter folds (at around 25 ºC)
- Pre-shape, rest, and shape (1/2 hour)
- Final proof 2 1/2 hours (at around 25 ºC)
- (Total fermentation time from time-off mixing to just before baking was 6 hours.)
- Baked at 245 ºC under cover for 35 minutes and without cover for a further 20 minutes
The big H in Edwardian script stencil is my Father's initial
Oven spring and crust colour: This miche was baked under a giant stainless steel bowl, and so no steaming was required. The stainless bowl was not pre-warmed. This miche had one of the best oven springs I have ever had, risen about 50 - 60% from the proved loaf. The covered baking method (and this include the Römertopf and le cloche baking) seems to guarantee better oven spring. I seem to have better crust color, too, with this baking method since the bread is being steamed by the moist generated by itself. (If a dough is over-proved, however, no baking method can guarantee oven spring or crust color. From my experience, nothing can save a dough that is over-proved; but the flavour would still be good.)
Volume: This miche has very good volume as can be seen from the high cross section above. Volume comes with good gluten development and dough strength. As I was under the impression that French flours tended to be soft and not needing as much hydration, I mixed the dough to 69% hydration at the start. However, I wanted to have a medium soft dough consistency and, at 69%, the dough felt very tight, so I added 3% more hydration each time and did that twice, ending at 75% total hydration. This in effect became a double-hydration method, normally used in wet dough to build up strength. The volume is also attributable to the tight pre-shaping and shaping that I gave to this dough. The bulk dough was completely flatten out before being pre-shaped and shaped.
Texture: The texture of this miche is soft and spongy. It has a yielding structure. All cells are aerated. Many of the miches I made in the past, while good flavoured, had somewhat hard texture, with or without open crumbs. I noticed that, when a portion or all of the flour in my miches was whole grain flour, the texture tended to be (ever so slightly) tough. With this miche, I was very pleased with the very spongy and yielding texture. I could only attribute it to the special French T110 flour used in this miche. It would not be attributable to anything in particular that I had done.
Flavour: I do not consider myself to be sensitive to subtle nuances of tastes and flavours. This T110 miche is my very first miche with T110 flour. Still, at the first bite, a "rich" flavour hit me. I had had no prior experience with T110 flour. It is as if there is a whole lot more in that small morsel that I took that was invisible to my eyes. The ingredients in my miche were strictly T110, water, and salt, so I really couldn't work out where it was from initially. The "rich" flavour is different from that of the Gerard Rubaud miche that I made where 3 types of whole grain flour were added. It appears to me that the "rich" flavour may have come from the special French traditional stone-milling method where the germ and the aleurone layer are mixed into the T110 (and T80) flour. For some basic information of aleurone layer, please see here and here. I am not interested in science more than I need to. I am a baker and I try to adapt to whatever flour I have and try to bring out its best the way I know how. All that I can say is this T110 flour is very special.
Translucent crumb: I had the most translucent crumb in this miche than all other bread that I made, combined. When I get translucent crumb, to me, it is like the cells have been fermented to perfection. Mini Oven once commented that the translucent crumb seems to occur more often with retardation, long fermentation process and/or wetter dough. However, this dough does not fit into any of the above. The only thing I can think of is that, before my starter went through the last leg of fermentation (6 hours), it sat in the refrigerator for 9 hours. What happened was, it was 9 pm when I fed my starter its last meal. Rather than risking it over ripen, I moved it into the refrigerator and brought it out again to room temperature the next morning at 6. I don't know if this, together with the 6 hour refreshment and 6 hour dough fermentation, resulted in the translucent crumb. I am more inclined to think that the crumb is because of the T110 flour.
The last photo of the night:
We had about half of the miche that night and the rest, sliced, was stored in the freezer. Yesterday morning I decided that I really would like to have a day-time shot of the crumb to compare. So here it is. The crumb colour is of a very pale brown without any specks whatsoever.
Same crumb as in the 4th photo from the top
Same crumb as in the photo to the left , below the 4th photo from the top
For your information, following is a shot of this T110 flour that I used. Next to it is my normal bread flour, for comparison.
T110 flour Bread Flour
An article on flour, brought out by hansjoakim elsewhere, says the extraction rate of T110 is 88 - 90%. As you can see above, the bran is so very finely ground that it is undistinguishable.
Early fall morning fog?