High Extraction Milling for the Tarlee Miche + Biscuits and Jam
What is traditional bread anyway? The more I read, the murkier this question becomes. Steamed golden crusts, curling gringe, high protein flours mixed into sloppy doughs and possibly even salt are a pretty new phenomena in the history of bread – yet they are marketed as ‘traditional’. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to create ‘traditional bread’ but I do like to understand where we came from to get were we are going. I guess I don’t want to get caught up in trends. Saying this however, I do have a particular bent towards French bread. And although I have a fairly limited understanding of bread history I know how much I love the aromas and flavours of my levain─and the French placed a massive importance on baking with a perfectly ripe levain. This resonates with me.
My recent baking with French flours brought home a desire to try and produce flavourful high extraction flour using Australian wheat grains. Again I am using my favourite Australian biodynamic wheat grains courtesy of ‘Four Leaf Milling’. It is a white winter wheat from South Australia with a protein level of 10.9%─full of colour and flavour with just enough strength.
In the past my method for producing high extraction flour was a single pass through my Komo mill on its finest setting then sift through a 20 mesh sieve (I think) and remill the caught material. This was sifted again with the caught material set aside. This would usually only remove 10% of the total weight of flour i.e. 90% extraction. And while this was delicious flour it wasn’t producing the crumb colour that I had in mind. I needed to purchase a finer sieve and I settled upon a 50 mesh Keene classifier and changed my method to a more labour intensive multiple pass milling method.
Method is a loose term though─I started by cracking the grains and sifting the coarsest pieces. This was continued with gradually finer settings on the mill and sifting through finer sieves. Any flour that passed through the 50 mesh was set aside until the end when it was combined with a small amount of the finest milled middlings to build the quantity to the correct weight for an 80% extraction flour.
I was excited even before I used the flour. It was softest, silkiest and most beautifully coloured flour I had ever produced through the mill. Plus it had all the wonderful fragrance of freshly milled flour.
Continuing with my French themed baking of late I decided to bake a miche, fendu (French for split) and batard using the freshly milled high extraction flour. My baking of late has shifted from long bulk ferments to concentrating on short controlled levain builds and mixing dough with larger amounts of pre-fermented flour. The short bulk ferment makes it easier to control temperatures in winter and assists with my goal of sweet tasting bread. At the end of bulk fermenting I was surprised by the balance of extensibility and strength─especially considering it was mixed with freshly milled flour. I named the miche in honour of the town of Tarlee where Four Leaf Milling is based.
Tarlee Miche and French breads (1 x 2kg Miche, 1 x 1kg Fendu, 1 x 1kg Batard)
Total dough weight
Levain – 6hrs 25-26°C
Previous levain build
Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% Organic plain flour, 18% fresh milled sifted wheat, 9% fresh milled sifted spelt and 3% fresh milled sifted rye)
Final dough. DDT=25-26°C
Freshly milled flour sifted to 80% extraction
- Mix levain and leave to ferment for 6 hours at 25-26°C
- Mill and sift flour and allow to cool to room temperature before mixing with water (hold back 50 grams of water) and autolyse for a minimum of one hour.
- Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
- Bulk ferment two hours with a stretch-and-fold after one hour.
- Divide. Preshape. Bench rest 30 mins. Shape into desired shapes.
- Final proof was for 2.5 hours at 21°C (this was quite variable – watch the dough)
- Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C for 10 mins with steam then reduce temperature to 200°C. Miche was baked for a total of 50 min. The batard and fendu were baked for a total of 40 min.
Cutting the Tarlee Miche in half was an exciting moment for me. It had to be straight down the middle. It couldn’t be cut in from the edge. The edge may give you more open crumb but it’s the centre that tells the whole story of the fermentation and oven-spring. From there it was quartered with half of it staying on the bench and the remainder sliced and frozen for the remaining week. All the loaves had thin dark crusts but this was most noticeable on the Tarlee Miche─possibly the perfect kind of crust to crumb ratio. Inside was slightly golden and sweet and more open than I imagined it would be. There is another photo of me with a huge grin after I had cut the miche ... it said it all.
Kids were kept busy in the kitchen as well. Nat had some very enthusiastic help making and decorating biscuits with lots of finger licking followed by lots of hand washing─this seemed to happen often. After the biscuits were rolled, cut and baked the excitement was taken up a notch as it was decorating time. I can vouch that they tasted even ‘sweeter’ than they look. Needless to say we were hounded for biscuits at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oh the disappointment when they were declined.
A week ago I was baking with Laurie again, this time for the Hampton Food and Arts Festival  held outside of Toowoomba. It was a beautiful day and we again sold out of bread by lunch-time much to the regret of late shoppers. While wandering the stalls Nat purchased a small bag of rosella fruit. Rosella shrubs are sometimes called the Queensland jam plant and it is a native of coastal New South Wales and Queensland. It is a versatile plant with both edible fruit and foliage. The fruit is most often made into very popular jams but can also be dried and used in tea making.
We spent a lazy afternoon peeling fruit and simmering jam for bottling. And the result is a richly coloured jam that could be best described as being similar to plum jam but tarter. Delicious.
I am now laying low with a nasty head cold … no more jam for me until I can taste again─it’s too good to waste!
Phil ** sniffle, sniffle