The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why did I stray so long? Shiao-Ping's 'House Miche' Revisited

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Why did I stray so long? Shiao-Ping's 'House Miche' Revisited

I have a must-try list of sourdough breads and other goodies that I'm constantly working my way through, yet the list never seems to get any shorter. Trouble is, you guys on TFL keep posting irresistible pics, and the recipes go straight on to my list (and waistline).  O the trials of the home artisan bread baker! And of course, we wouldn't have it any other way...

When I'm not trying new breads, I fall back on my trusty repertoire of favourite breads that I do again and again. I'm sure we all have these, tweaked to personal taste. Every so often, I realise I haven't done one of my faves for way too long. So it was with Shiao-Ping's 'House Miche': I baked this again recently after somehow neglecting it for months, and it was like revisiting an old friend - familiar, but stimulating as well. I couldn't quite remember how it turned out (too many loaves ago), but I just knew it was a standout. Well, memory duly refreshed, felt I wanted to share this one with y'all. Blame it on the crumb:

 

And yeah, it's not a miche. I prefer batards - and the beauty of home baking is that you are free to customise as you please. I also like to take the option of adding a proportion of rye to the dough.

This crumb is spongy, which I really like, with a cool mouthfeel, nice structure and elasticity, a lovely creaminess about it, and nutty flavour tones that develop in depth and complexity the day after the bake. The crust has character, but is not so robust as to be tooth-endangering (conscious of this at the moment, having recently needed a crown due to chomping over-zealously on a pizza and breaking a back molar that had been sending me warning signals that all was not right for many months...dental phobics have unlimited capacity to ignore such signals).

This 'House Miche' - er, batard -  is an old friend that I'm going to make more effort to stay in touch with from now on. Well worth inviting to your table, if you haven't already.

Thank you again, Shiao-Ping!

Cheers
Ross

 

 

Comments

varda's picture
varda

It looks like you didn't forget how to make it despite your absence.    And glad your mouth is back in crust eating shape.  -Varda

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

And yes, I'm glad to be back in pizza attack mode! Next ones I bake, though, I'll take more care to get the crust just right - not feeling like putting my new crown to the test of a SD thin-crust pizza given a minute too long in the oven! Getting them just right in a home oven is always a bit of a timing challenge, I find. As with bread, there are ever-changing factors to adjust to.

Best of baking to you!
R

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I keep coming back to look at that crumb.  It's just so... perfect!

Marcus

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Thanks for that. I was chuffed with that crumb, which is why I posted, but I hasten to add I don't always achieve those sorts of results. Bread baking is full of paradoxes, don't you think? At its purest, it's an almost alchemical transformation of 4 elemental ingredients via the great eternal catalyst, fire: flour + salt + leaven + water + fire = bread. Simple as it gets - and yet, as experience teaches us so well, the complexities within this simple process are almost endless. Too much to master in a lifetime, in fact...

With this loaf, I simply got the fundamentals right, and the rewards were generous (thanks be to ye, O Bread Gods). Stop. Did I say simply? So, how come the next one wasn't quite as good? Same formula, same flours, same baker, same oven, same process...but ambient temp 2 degrees C cooler! Hence, considerably longer proof required, which I didn't fully account for.

This is the challenge for the home baker - adapting to ever-changing conditions. OTOH, it's also what puts the art in artisan. (Well, not always the case - which is why 'smart' is frequently conjoined with 'ass'...pithy declarations sound good, but are too neat and restricted in form to contain the whole truth!).

Whoa - bit of a rave, there. That'll teach you to comment on my posts, Marcus!

Best of baking!
R

MadAboutB8's picture
MadAboutB8

The crumbs are beautiful, creamy and translucent. It's wonderful.

I'm, too, having the same issue of having a long list of bread I want to make and keep neglecting my favorite.

Sue

http://youcandoitathome.blogspot.com

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Thank you!

Yeah, we have about as much chance of cutting down that List as disposing of the gorgon - no sooner than one head is cut off than another two grow in its place. Or whatever (been a while since I took a look through the Greek myths...probably misremembering the details).  Mind you, you're one of the culprits as far as my list goes!

Best of baking to ya!
Ross

Syd's picture
Syd

Lovely looking crumb, Ross. I like batards, too. Two slices from the middle of a boule can present an intimidating challenge for people with smaller appetites. And cut in half the slices are not that pretty. So, sometimes a batard is more practical. Sliced, they also fit perfectly into my toaster, too. :)

Best,
Syd

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

And thanks for your comments.

I sure can't claim to be one of those 'people with smaller appetites' (unfortunately) - especially with bread! - so that's not the issue with boules or miches for me. I'm with you on the toast part, though. Also, I just like the hand shaping aspect, and prefer to go freeform rather than using brotforms. There's no doubting the classic look of a good miche though, as Shaio-Ping's and DM Synder's pics, for instance, dramatically demonstrate. For me, the batard is both aesthetically pleasing and practical, so I guess that sums up why I prefer them.

I'm intrigued by the claims that a big miche tastes better, I have to admit. In the wonderful world of artisan bread, flavour is, after all, the holy of holies (will resist wheeling in a crumb pun at this point).

Best of baking!
Ross