PdC as a modern commercial product is based on modern commercial flours. It has more flavor than white bread, but mostly it does not interfere with the rest of the menu. For Thanksgiving, I took PdC of that school. I knew the first course would be herring – so it had to be a bread that would stand up, to the strong flavors of hearing, but would not overwhelm things like roast turkey and green bean casserole. There was also some white bread.
It was 5% fresh milled whole rye, 20% fresh milled red winter wheat, and 75 % Grain Craft Morbread flour. Morbread is a commercial flour that I like, it is a little stronger than “all purpose” and not as strong as many “bread” flours. One of the things it is blended for, is making breads that use some whole grain flour. I use it for most of my white bread.
Nevertheless, I find that PdC disappointing. Food of the country (as opposed to the food in Paris) typically had bigger and bolder flavors. The fresh local produce had more flavor. (See for example Honey from a Weed by Patience Gray). In the country, one can gather fresh greens out of the vineyard, while in Paris you are likely to get spinach that that was bred mostly to look pretty in the market after a truck ride. And, the country has more fresh herbs, thereby encouraging more use of herbs.
I like full flavored foods. Our garden grows rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, bay leaves, lavender, basil, parsley, sage, mint, limes, oranges, lemons, and others in abundance, and we use them in abundance. These foods call for full flavored breads.
Thus, having spent much of November developing the formula for the Thanksgiving bread, I was glad to get back to my whole wheat breads.
I had been using Kamut (Khorasan wheat) for pita bread. More recently, I have been using it for 800 gram loaves baked on the stone. The crumb is darker and more open than red spring wheat baked by the process. In fact, for the next few batches, I will be adding some rye and red winter wheat to tighten up the crumb a little. I hope that will come closer to my dream Pain de Campagne.
I have also tightened up my rules. I use flour within 24 hours of milling. Fresh milled flour speeds all kinds of fermentations, so proofing, fermentation, and rise are much faster. Watch the dough, not the clock. Fresh milled grain has more flavor, so poolish, biga, and sourdough are not required. On the other hand, fresh milled whole grain will ferment really fast, so one can do good sour dough in 5 hours if you watch the dough and have excellent levain.