The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

In search of a good miche...

bwraith's picture
bwraith

In search of a good miche...

My staple bread for the past couple of years has been a miche. I started doing the BBA recipe with half bread flour and half KA whole wheat flour. Lately I've been experimenting with different blends of organic and sifted flours. I haven't yet settled on one recipe and change things every time I do it lately, but I thought I'd describe this basic recipe.

 Loosely based on BBA Miche and Hamelman Mixed-Flour Miche.

 Loosely based on BBA Miche and Hamelman Mixed-Flour Miche.

Mixed-Flour Miche: Loosely based on BBA Miche and Hamelman Mixed-Flour Miche.

I have some photos of my process.

Many, many thanks to JMonkey, SourdoLady, Zolablue, Mountaindog, Floydm, and numerous others. My results on this and other recipes are much better because of the great ideas I've found in the various blogs, postings, and lessons here.

Mixed-Flour Miche: Loosely based on BBA Miche and Hamelman Mixed-Flour Miche.

There is a "firm starter" that is built from white poolish-like starter as in the BBA "barm" version (50/50 by weight using breadflour and water), which is retarded overnight and included in the dough which is baked the same day.

The recipe I've been doing lately has evolved from the BBA miche recipe to be more like the "Mixed-Flour Miche" in Bread by Hamelman. My objective has basically been to have a high whole wheat content, but use sifted flours to get a less coarse crumb. I have also mixed red wheat and white wheat flours as well as tried some spelt trying to come up with a flavor that is not too "grassy" or "nutty". I find the taste of 100% white wheat bread to be a little too bland, whereas using too much red wheat seems bitter in a way I don't like.

As a result, I've ended up mixing various flours in an attempt to get something that is mostly whole wheat with some of the coarser bran sifted out and partly red wheat, partly white wheat for flavor.

The recipe showing in the photos is as follows, and is loosely based on both the BBA Miche and the Hamelman "Mixed-Flour Miche" in Bread.

For the firm starter:

  • 7oz "BBA style barm" (100% hydration bread flour starter)
  • 6oz Golden Buffalo flour (sifted red wheat flour from Heartland Mills)
  • 3 oz KA Organic Whole Wheat
  • 4oz water

Mix/knead ingredients for about 3 minutes to get a fairly firm not very sticky dough. Place in container and let rise to about 1.5x in volume - about 3 hours. Punch it down and allow to rise again to double - another 2.5 hours, roughly. Place in refrigerator overnight. I was trying to get this one to be a little more sour, and I think I went too far, as the bread was just a touch too sour for my tastes, but I don't like my bread very sour. Some might like the more sour flavor I got. My plan is to reduce the rise time of the firm starter and use less Golden Buffalo and maybe use whole spelt flour in higher proportion next time.

For the dough:

  • 6 oz KA whole spelt flour
  • 8 oz Golden Buffalo sifted red wheat flour (Heartland Mills)
  • 3 oz KA Organic Whole Wheat
  • 6 oz sifted white wheat flour (Homestead Grist Mill)
  • 6 oz Sir Lancelot High Gluten flour
  • 3 oz KA Rye Blend
  • 29 oz water
  • 3/4 tsp diastatic malted barley flour
  • 26 grams salt (about .9 oz)
  • Firm starter from day before.

Cut up firm starter and cover with towel to allow the pieces to lose their chill.

Autolyse: Mix all but salt and starter in bowl until the ingredients form a uniform shaggy mass. Allow to rest for 60 minutes.

Mix and knead dough: Push the pieces of starter into the dough and sprinkle with salt. Mix/knead for 5 minutes to form a supple, fairly soft dough. The total hydration of the entire overall dough is 82%, so it is relatively soft at the beginning. Place in a container to rise.

Fold the dough hourly: The total bulk fermentation time was 4.5 hours. I think I probably went too long, though. Anyway, I was folding it using the technique in Hamelman's Bread, i.e. (very roughly) turn the dough out on a bed of flour top down and gently spread it out/push out some of the gas. Then pull out and stretch one side of the dough and fold it toward the center. Do the same for the other three sides. Put the dough back in the container with the top up and the seams down. I may have "overfolded", as the dough seemed a little "too tough" possibly, and I didn't get as much oven spring as I was hoping for.

Shape into boule: Form a boule not too differently from the folding technique above, except it is more of a gathering in of the edges of the dough and pinching them together to stretch the "top" of the dough (which is face down on the counter as with the folds). Flour a couche with rice flour and place in 8 quart steel mixing bowl, and then place the dough in the couche seams up.

Final Proof: Allow to rise for about 2.5 hours - again I let it go until 3 hours, and I think it was probably too long to wait.

Place on parchment: Place parchment on an upside down baking sheet or a peel and flour with coarse corn meal. Invert the bowl with the dough onto the parchment and pull away the bowl. Gently pull away the couche, which works great with the rice flour on the couche. Slash as photos show. I very lightly spray water on with spray mister.

Bake: Preheat oven to 500F well before this point, like an hour before. Use various steaming techniques as described many places for home ovens. Drop temperature to 450F after about 5 minutes. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then rotate loaf and drop temperature to 400F for another 20 minutes. Then rotate and drop temperature to 375F. Continue to bake until internal temperature is about 208F.

I would enjoy hearing any comments about how to manipulate flavor, the amount of rise, crumb texture, and so on. This bread did not rise quite as much as some others I've done in similar fashion. There are a few reasons I can think of, such as too much fermentation and proofing time, starter slightly too ripe and sour, possibly folding too much, maybe kneading too much in the very beginning, and so on. I also think the sour flavor is too much for my tastes, and other versions I've done were less sour. I think this is due mainly to overly long fermentation and proof, and to allowing the starter to become too ripe. Also, I used a higher proportion of red wheat flour in this starter than previously.

Comments

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

That looks fantastic, bwraith. One of these days, I'm going to have to make the Poilane recipe from the BBA ....

bwraith's picture
bwraith

JMonkey,

Thanks. Your posts have been very helpful to me. I was getting OK but slightly dense results from the BBA recipe, until I started to read your posts about folding and hydration with whole wheat flour. Then I read Hamelman's Mixed-Flour Miche after seeing your posts and I've had much better results since.

Bill

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Wow, beautiful miche, Bill. It looks a lot like the crumb and cross section of mine when I made the BBA Poilane miche recipe here, although I did not nearly use the variety of flours you used here, I pretty much followed the recipe in the book by mixing white and wheat flours as Reinhart specified to mimic the high extract flour. Your crusts look much nicer, though, beautiful!

With such a massive loaf and so much whole grain flour involved, it is hard for most to get a more open crumb than that I think. 

Were you able to taste the spelt flour? Do you think that made a difference and worth keeping in the recipe? 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Mountaindog,

I'd forgotten that I started visiting this site when I was searching for Poilane miche recipes and came across those great pictures of your miche. I used the rice flour to dust the couche on this one for the first time, by the way. I think the result is much more attractive than what I had been getting before. It was just a little too covered with flour streaks when I was using bread flour in the couches.

The spelt flour is just a shot in the dark. I haven't even spent much time trying to learn what spelt tastes like. I guess I would need to make a loaf of spelt and get in tune with its flavor. My thinking was that people seem to like it, it was described as mild flavored and therefore maybe an offset to the red wheat flour, and it's lighter in color. So, overall I'm using red whole wheat flour for coarse red flavor, red sifted for finer textured red wheat flavor, sifted white wheat for finer textured white wheat flavor, and spelt was kind of in place of coarse textured whole white wheat flour. I was trying to have about 30% red wheat, 30% white wheat, 30% bread flour, and a little rye. Also, I was trying to have 30% coarser flours, i.e. with all bran in. So, the recipe seems a bit crazy with all those flours, but I was trying to balance out white/red flavor, coarse/fine texture, and have a not too dense bread, a not too red whole wheat bitter flavor, yet use as much organic and whole grain as possible.

I've also heard people say they like spelt starters, so I was going to try that too. The possibilities are way too many, and I haven't been very systematic about it, but I did like the results of this one, and I think I'll be using it as a kind of home base for other variations.

brianpink's picture
brianpink

the overall height and crumb is pretty comparable to the best I've done ( only using the BBA recipe ). the most change I've gotten has been to increase hydration and use the "ultra-wet bertinet" kneading method, i.e. the miches I've made that way have been even more open, but still usable for sandwiches, which is frankly probably my most important measure. any bread can be eaten plain, soak up egg yolk and butter. but can it hold a great sandwich? =) anyway, loaf looks great, i'm just not sure the flour mix justifies the work unless it tasted really f***in good.

- brian

bwraith's picture
bwraith

The taste and texture were what I was hoping for, although I think I let the firm starter get a little too ripe. I don't like my miche's to be too sour.

The flour combinations came about partly because I've been trying out flours that are available in retail quantities on the internet that have "sifted" or "organic" or "artisan" descriptions. So, I had a few of these to check out. There is some method to the madness. I was trying to balance a few characteristics that each flour contributes differently to: 1) coarse texture 2) red wheat flavor, 3) white wheat flavor, 4) lightness of the crumb. The proportions of the flours can be altered to increase or decrease each of those characteristics. Someone who really likes the flavor of red wheat flour and likes the miche more coarse in texture could use a whole red wheat flour with that is milled to be more coarse in texture, for example.

However, the differences aren't enormous compared to a simpler version with half bread flour and half whole wheat. On the other hand, ordering a few bags of different flours off the internet and spending a little extra time weighing in the various flours wasn't all that much more work. There is some extra work for me involved in storing the flours, as I don't use them up quite fast enough. Also, you can't really minimize cost very well doing a bunch of mail-order flours.

Bill

pumpkinpapa's picture
pumpkinpapa

Wow, what a lineup of flour you utilize!

My attampts at the Poilane loaf have been dismal to nearly edible. The first used a white starter, the last was a whole wheat sterter. In between it was white starters and I made a great number of door stops and sheep snacks!

The sourness is always too high, and the scent of alcohol is strong so that the bread is noticeable a room away.

I plan to use my spelt starter next for a pure spelt miche. 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

I use just a plain white starter and make the firm starter as described above, but often I use more bread flour and less whole wheat flours in the firm starter. I find it is less sour when I use less whole red wheat in the firm starter. Also, I've found that if I put the firm starter in the refrigerator before it really gets to double in volume, it will be significantly less sour. The same thing applies to the dough. I don't retard this dough, and the total bulk fermentation and final proof is less than 5 hours. So, it stays fairly mild if I do all those things. I recently made a miche using yeast and poolish, just seeing how that turned out. In spite of retarding for a long time on both the poolish, firm starter, and dough, it came out very mild, and I realized that I really like the taste imparted by sourdough culture as opposed to regular yeast. However, when I make this recipe above, it doesn't smell of alcohol or have a very strong acetic acid flavor.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

And how did I miss this thread with that lovely photo on the home page!  Bill, that is really fabulous and I'm very impressed with your use of so many flours.  I bet that is a lot of fun to make.  I've never even heard of some of those.  Looks beautiful.  I have never attemped anything like that yet. 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

You got me thinking more and reading more on handling wet dough, among other topics, and it certainly has helped me do better with this type of bread, which is a constant pleasure and pursuit for me. I admired you photography, so I did put some effort into that, too. The zillion different flours are the result of my possibly misguided attempt to use some flours I ordered to try out, but it has some method to the madness I try to explain below. I'm trying to use the different flours to balance out 1) bitterness from red wheat 2) coarseness from whole grains 3) blandness of white wheat, 4) still have a fairly light loaf with some hole structure, 5) Still have lots of whole grain nutrition and flavor. 6) Some sour, but not too much. I think it came out well, but it really just raised more questions and things to try next.

Again, thanks for your comments.

Bill

David Aplin's picture
David Aplin

2 Kg. Miche

2 Kg. MicheI recently made my version of the BBA Miche usingt sifted whole wheat flour, salt and water. The loaves were rounded up after an overnight bulk cool fermentation and eventually were laid down on overturned 18x26 bakery trays. They laid there like flat pancakes and seemed to do nothing but spread and spread. Finally I cut them and flung them into a 450 F oven...where they sprang up with incredible height! Wow! They looked killer. I gave them very long bake, over 2 hours, lowering the temp to about 380 F. Was impressed...until about 12 hours later when they had totally cooled, I cut into one to find that it was UNDERBAKED. Back to the drawing board. Shouldn't make them that big.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi David,

I'm a little surprised they came out underbaked after 2 hours. Mine are around 2Kg, and they are fully baked in well less than an hour starting at 500F and dropping down from there to around 400 or even less if the crust looks like it's burning.

Bill

LA Baker's picture
LA Baker

I know this blog entry is old, but I'm so glad you took the time to take all those pictures and write such great details! 


I have just baked my second attempt at the BBA Poilane Miche.  It tastes nice, but it is super dense and heavy.  I have been following the recipe to the letter, but will try with your suggestions next time to see if I can get a better crumb and lighter loaf.


Thank you!