The Fresh Loaf

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SFBI Miche Again - with high extraction flour, rye starter, in a cast iron pot

txfarmer's picture

SFBI Miche Again - with high extraction flour, rye starter, in a cast iron pot

Sending this toYeastspotting.
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It all started with a trip to my neighborhood organic market. My first time there, and I was quite disappointed actually, way overpriced (Whole Foods seemed practically frugal in comparison), and the selection is just OK. However they did have Poilane Miche straight from Paris, which ended up being my only purchase from there. It was sold by quarters, but I did get a sense of how large the bread is. Crumb is fairly dense, but full of flavor, a bit more sour than what I usually bake. Crust is not hard or crispy, due to the packaging and shipping time I assume. 

Inspired, I decided to bake a miche of my own. Still went with the SFBI formula I used before (posted here), which was originally posted by David (here). I did do a few things differently:
1) Instead of a blend of ww and AP flour, I used Golden Buffalo, which is an organic high extraction flour.
2)Instead of a white starter, I used my rye starter, which is VERY active and flavorful.
3)Instead of bakion on the stone with steam, I baked it in my large Staub cast iron pot. Preheated at 500F for nearly one hour, slash, load the loaf, cover, bake at 450F for the first 20min, remove lid, lower temp to 430F, bake for another 40min, turn off oven, open the oven door a little, leave the loaf (in the pot) in oven for another 20min before taking out.
4)My cast iron pot is oval so I shaped the dough into a batard, which is not the "usual" shape for miche
5)The scoring was borrowed from breadsong's post here, thank you so much!
Everything else remained the same, including the 2KG size, as well as fermentation/proofing schedule.

I really like how the scoring showed up

Such large loaves tend to flatten out on the baking stone, but in a pot, it had a very tall profile

A side by side comparison of the crumb between my miche and Poilane. The texture look kinda similar, but taste different: my miche (upper left) is less sour, has a more "sweet" taste than Poilane (lower right). I really liked the use of rye starter, it adds another dimension to the flavor profile.

I don't know which day the Poilane Miche was baked and shipped, but by the time I was eating it, it was a tad dry. I kept my miche wrapped for 24 hours before cutting in, and it tasted the best after 48 hours. Hmmm, I don't think I will go to that merket again, if I were to buy Poilane Miche again, I would get it in Paris, when its flavor is at the prime.



Crider's picture

I bet I could handle a 2 kg loaf in my dutch oven too. Must try!

txfarmer's picture

I am thinking my DO can even take a 2.5KG one, hmmm...

Syd's picture

Great bake txsfarmer.  This is one of my all time favourite loaves.  I bake it once a month, if I get the chance.  I have never baked it in a DO before, because I don't have one that it will fit in.  However, your comment about loaves that are baked in a DO having a higher profile is spot on.  I also agree that the flavour is best on the third day.  This is one of those breads that makes me salivate for a slice while I am still at work. 

Glad to see you using Breadsong's scoring pattern.  She has such a talent and you have really done it justice.  Love the colour of your crumb and the caramelization of the crust.



txfarmer's picture

Breadsong's a lady? One more thing I learned today! :)

ehanner's picture

Elegant Miche txfarmer. The  Poilane must have been  a heavy loaf before being cut. I have always enjoyed the flavor that you get from these large loaves. An oval DO is tempting me.

Thanks for sharing.


txfarmer's picture

I have so many DOs now, I don't "need" all of them, but ... you understand... :)

PeterS's picture

Hi Txfarmer,

I love reading your posts: great bread, photos and writing. You set the bar very high. :)

What did you wrap the bread in for the first 48 hours?  I like to avoid plastic as it obviously softens the crust.  Toasting or heating helps, but it isn't the same. A paper bag is better than plastic, but in my drier house in the winter, sometimes it's not enough.


txfarmer's picture

I wrapped mine in cloth.

lumos's picture

Lovely loaves, txfarmer! Love the way you slashed the top. Very artistic. :)

Quite jealous you can still get Poilane Miche straight from Paris. We used to get them in London until some years ago when Poilane opened their own bakery in London and started baking there to sell to UK market.  Now we can get it in many places  in and around London but the quality is not as good as the one air-flown from their bakery in Paris,  AT ALL!  (Hope someone from London operation of Poilane is reading this!! :p)

btw, I haven't tried it myself yet, but according to this blog one of the most important ingredients in Poilane miche is spelt flour.




txfarmer's picture

Spelt huh? One more flour to add to my crazy flour collection!?

lumos's picture

Spelt is definitely worth keeping. It gives subtle but lovely complexity in flavour to your bread. I oftenn add small amount of spelt to many of my bread formula for the benefit....... and you're crazy enough already, a bit of version-up  in craziness won't make much difference anyway!   :p

FlourChild's picture

txfarmer, not sure if I'm more besotted by that beautiful loaf or by your cast iron, am wanting both, right now please!

I'm intrigued by your use of a rye starter, do you maintain it with rye, or feed a white starter with rye until it's mostly rye?

txfarmer's picture

Yeah, I maintain mine with rye flour, it's one of the two starters I have, the other one is fed with white flour.

dmsnyder's picture

I bought a quarter miche from Poilâne on Rue Cherche Midi last May. It was still warm from the oven. It's appearence was just like the one you bought. The crust was more chewy than crunchy. It was moderately sour - more so than I expected.

Overall, I prefer the SFBI miche in all respects - texture and flavor. The Poilâne miche is a great bread. Its reputation is well-deserved, in my opinion. I just think the SFBI is better.

Hmmmm ... It's been too long since I've baked this. So many breads. So little time!

Was your bread more sour, using a rye starter?


txfarmer's picture

Last time when I made SFBI miche with my white starter, it was minimally sour, this time, it's a bit more sour, but still not as sour as the Poilane one. The level of sourness this time was what we prefer, but I guess it's a personal preference.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or move some spelt into the elaboration from the recipe earlier.   Did that make sense?    Try putting spelt flour with the rye starter sooner for a longer fermentation of spelt.  (or #2  chuck some crumbled miche altus into the elaboration.  I just had to get that in there. :)   

That should boost the sour.  :)   Your French Country Bread is lovely!  

Both loaves are similar in looks to the loaves sold here as "mischbrot" (misch meaning mixture, using rye & wheat -- spelt is a wheat variety) or "brotlaib" (or big bread) and the first day the crusts are pretty crispy and sharp.  I've scraped my knuckles plenty of times quartering or slicing the first day.   As you mentioned bagging softens the crust.   Better cut or frozen after the crusts have been softened the next day for even moisture bread when thawed.  

Spelt is very common here in Austria and easy to purchase in a variety of forms and sizes as many households have replaced common wheat flour with spelt flour or a mixture of both.  Spelt noodles are also available as well as coarse grinds much like "cream of wheat" used for dumplings and hot cereal.  

longhorn's picture

I could just ditto David Snyder other than that I will be buying my Poilane in May of this year! What a beautful loaf! Nicely done! And yes, like David I feel I need to do the SFBI Miche again. Dieting is a bummer! Arrgghhh!

A great inspiration!


txfarmer's picture

Ha, it's zero fat, so it's diet food! :P