The Fresh Loaf

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Forkish 2.7kg miche - I need an engineer and a chemist.

mikewasinnyc's picture

Forkish 2.7kg miche - I need an engineer and a chemist.

I'm a relatively recent fan of FWSY after years of baking much lower hydration sourdough and commercially yeasted breads. I have a small oven, though, and the hassle of cycling through two bakes in a 4qt dutch oven led me to purchase an 11qt lodge and try my hand at something closer the 3kg miche that Forkish mentions he bakes back in Oregon.

I'm working hard to dial in consistency so that my wife stops seeing me as the mad bread scientist, and the pressure is now on with Thanksgiving just 10 days away. Overnight country wheat worked out ok as written, but the overnight country blond is remarkably challenging because of the size and dutch oven limitations. A high hydration loaf of this size is really hard to handle and there are a lot of variables that I'm just beginning to figure out. 

If I could bake this on my baking steel I would, but I recently realized that the size of the steel keeps heat and steam from circulating in the oven, which results in burned bottoms and inconsistently steamed tops. I'm a renter so replacing the oven is not an option. 

Admittedly it's also pretty fun to pull out this cast iron monster when I'm getting ready for a bake :) 

I'm using primarily Central Milling organic AP from Costco, with the addition of a small amount of Giusto's bread flour with about 13-14% protein to bring the protein level up after discovering that Central Milling was closer to 10.1% , which is low for FWSY. So here's where I'm at:

Central Milling AP: 1066g

Giusto's BF: 140g (@200g I got a much denser crumb)

Rye: 75g 

Giusto's medium WW: 39g

Salt: 33g

Levain: 324g

H20: 1026g (precise; I don't use Forkish's technique for weighing the levin in water)

For simplicity's sake I use an Akarsrum Assistent to mix this for 3 minutes after a 30 minute autolyse, then hand mix a bit, and have been trying up to 6 folds to improve the gluten strength (benefit seems to taper off @5). Otherwise it's as Forkish recommends - 12 hours for bulk rise, shape, and then 4 hours for final proofing before baking.

H20 @80 degrees for the autolyse seems to nail it at 77 degrees when I'm done mixing.My kitchen is always between 65 and 70 degrees.

Bake @475 for about 1:10 - until internal temp is about 206 degrees. 1st 30 mins with lid on pot, then off. Cool on rack sitting on open oven door as the oven itself cools.

When this works, it's great but I'm having a hard time getting a consistently dark, crisp crust (when this does work it's a beautiful mahogany color), an open but still sandwich-able crumb, and, critically, bread that doesn't wind up looking like it got pasted to the wall of my dutch oven because it slips out of my grasp, which happens a lot. I also want the last several weeks of my life back ;).

So here are my questions to the chemists:

1) Is there anything that I should change in the formulation, mixing or proofing to keep this manageable? On a bad day I have very hard-to-handle dough that emerges from my banneton ready to spread all over the place. But still delicious when baked, as long as I get it into the pot and not on the floor.

2) What temperature(s) should I be using for the bake? 475 throughout? It seems like lower temps get me a better flavor and color, but I don't know why this is and it seems like I'm sacrificing the crispness of the crust.

3) Oven spring can make this seem at times like something from Alien - what is pretty at 800g looks scary at 2.7kg. Should I overproof? How would this affect flavor or crust color?

And here is my question for a mechanical engineer:

How do I get this into my dutch oven? It's too large to move with just my hands, parchment paper droops under the weight of this wet dough, and dropping it directly from the banneton into the dutch oven requires laser-guided precision. My latest attempt was parchment paper that sits on cardboard which I place on the hot dutch oven and pull away like a tablecloth parlor trick. That *almost* works. But there will be no mercy at the Thanksgiving table ...

Thanks for the benefit of your experience and skill!










idaveindy's picture

I do this by myself with my 3.2 qt Lodge combo cooker with long handles.  I've done this with 2.5, 3 and 3.5 pounds of whole wheat dough.  For the 20+ pound lodge dutch oven, it would be a two person job.   And both of you would need oven mitts.  I'm assuming the DO is pre heated.

Your helper holds the banneton with the dough, you invert the dutch oven and place it over the banneton so they make contact. Together you then flip the banneton and dutch oven over, and the dough plops in the DO.   Don't know if you're fast and strong enough for that with the huge DO.  I'm just saying it works for my small 3.2 qt job

When you use parchment, is the parchment going in the dutch oven?   When you pull out the cardboard like the tablecloth trick  are you pulling out the parchment, or leaving the parchment?   Many people bake with the parchment lining the DO.


If the dough is too loose, just reduce the hydration some, or stick with what works for you, the country wheat.


Yes, 475 F at 1:10 seems too hot and short for a loaf that size.  Bigger loaves usually bake lower and slower, especially high hydration.   I would expect a loaf that size to bake for at least 90 minutes.  450 covered for 30, and 400-420 uncovered, for as long as it takes to get the desired internal temp. 

And small ovens have more temperature un-even-ness.  So suggest rotating DO half-way through each phase.

Good luck. And please post pictures of any good results.

suminandi's picture

I use a wooden pizza peel dusted generously with cornmeal to transfer dough. Gently tip the dough from the banneton onto the peel. Then slide the dough from the peel into the dutch oven. Usually about a 30 deg angle is enough for the dough to slide. Occasionally a little push from a spatula is needed to get it started. In this method, the dutch oven is sitting on a sturdy surface not being moved or touched. It works very consistently for me and I don’t have to worry about dropping anything. 
As far as Thanksgiving, I’m with the grandmas on this - make stuff you have already mastered. Experiments are for the rest of the year. ?

mikewasinnyc's picture

Thanks idaveindy and suminandi both, these are good suggestions.

Dave(?) I tried lowering temps yesterday and the loaf came out nicely baked, so I'll go with your temps going forward. Really helpful. My wife's dismay as she watched me prepare to juggle my massive cast iron pot was enough to get me to table that idea for now, though. It's a really big piece of metal and at 400+ degrees could make for a nasty accident.

I also planned to drop the hydration, but I mistakenly used all bread flour in this bake, so I kept it as written. This taught me a bit about protein content - gave me perfection on most fronts but a much less tender crumb. I'm trying Giusto's AP flour today which at 11.5% has more protein than Central Milling and will see how it works out. 

Probably need less H2O no matter what as the dough was noticeably stronger with Giusto's, but after bulk rise still quite loose.

Andy(?) I have a peel and but mine is also a bit too large to wield easily. I went to a local kitchen supply store in search of something more easily handled and left with a cheap pizza screen. Out of curiosity I wound up removing the rim and reshaped it to fit the bottom of my pot along with some of the curvature on the sides. 

Today I'll try flipping my screen together with the banneton, then drop it into the pot and see where I land (literally). I'm hoping that the screen will give the support that I can't manage with my hands alone. Ideally the screen would be even larger than what I have, but this might do the trick, and I want to see how heat transfers through it.

If i do go with your technique in the future I could see parchment paper and a screen or pan being pretty doable - in my case because a well placed sheet of paper might allow me to course correct if the sliding starts to go south.

Thanksgiving is far less intimidating than photos on this site given the amazing bakers here, but I will post once I get this right!

mikewasinnyc's picture



I think I have it. The temperature of the dough is everything.

I stumbled upon this only because I switched up my schedule so that I shape my loaves at night rather than in the am. When I did this - and because of the hour had to retard my loaf overnight - I woke up in the am to a loaf that was both fully proofed and relatively stiff. As easy to move into the dutch oven as a much smaller boule, with nothing but my hands.

Forkish recommends baking straight out of the retarder without reheating the loaf, and it does means some fiddling with the oven temperatures since this is a massive, chilled piece of dough. My first bake like this came out a touch darker than I'd like in order to get it over 206 degrees. But flavor is good, and these are just tweaks. Thanksgiving is saved ;)

Here's a bake from the weekend, when I was still using a screen under the dough. It came out pretty cleanly, but not perfect and it looks like it's unnecessary now.  All credit to Forkish - my changes to the recipe were relatively minor. But finally I can start making this one mine.




idaveindy's picture


Remember, whole grain miches' flavor improves in 24-48 hours.  So today, Tuesday, is the perfect time to bake for Thursday's feast.  Or at least start the process today and bake Wednesday.

Man, that above loaf puts you in "bread-god" territory. 

mikewasinnyc's picture

Really appreciate the kind words although I’ve seen the true bread gods here I still have some work ahead!

best laid plans and all that - someone decided to make a last minute request for a loaf and I was up a good chunk of Tuesday night trying to manage around flight schedules and the new element of dough retardation.

I was too foggy headed at 5am to take a photo of that bake, but here are the two loaves that I finished in the morning. One is a pecan loaf, smaller - just 1.8kg - and I love how it came out. still need to understand timing and proof point with retardation. And yes, I’m baking them as dark as I can - to my palate the flavor is great like this.

lastly - happy Thanksgiving!

birdlandbill's picture

Congratulations on the beautiful looking miches.

Did you use a mixer for this dough, or did you use the pincer method KF describes? If the latter, you must have had to modify it, given the quantity of dough?

What size/maker banneton did you use for proofing? SFBI has a larger one for lower dough mass. Poilane sells one they use for their 2 kg loaf, but wouldn't result in the spiral pattern I see on one of your miches.

Thank you.

mikewasinnyc's picture

I have been using 12 inch bannetons that I purchased on Amazon - this being the latest. I would definitely like more certainty that my bannetons are chemical-free, but otherwise can't say that one differs much from another and am grateful that the prices have come down considerably. 

As for mixing, I have an Ankarsrum which I use for 3 minutes with the dough hook at speed 1, then follow with a few pinches and finally over the next few hours, folds. I generally don't have much use for the dough hook and prefer the paddle and roller, but it struck me that the action using it for this bread is pretty similar to the movement of fingers through dough and the results have been great.

In truth I'm sure that these amounts are totally manageable without the mixer, but I'm not a full time baker and I appreciate every bit of efficiency as I'm often doing three things at once. With this I just remove and scrape clean the paddle and hook, and then do my bulk proof in the bowl using the lid. Less to clean up, including myself.

I have modified the recipe but it varies with the flour and the challenge of moving the dough into the DO. Overall higher average protein is more manageable and consistent, but I'm trying to push the lower bounds as I like the resulting crust and crumb.


birdlandbill's picture

Thank you for your quick and informative response. Still enjoying the hand mixing, but not sure that the pincer method will work with this dough volume. I had looked at the banneton you provided a pointer to but didn't think it was deep enough. Given you success, it seems they were. Must have peaked significantly over the top, though.

I'm still enjoying FWSY Field Blend # 2 with stone ground organic flours from Bakers Field Mills in Minneapolis ( They made me a coarse ground rye that I love. Would like to scale this loaf up to miche. Will evolve toward this with 1 kg loaf first, which I think the 12" banneton and my Lodge DO will work nicely for. Depending upon how that goes, will aspire to a loaf like your miche.

Thank you again