Non-Miche Miche

Miche Poilâne in the Poilâne bakery, Paris

When is a Miche not a Miche? Or perhaps more to the point what is a Miche?

“Miche” basically, is the French term for a very large loaf of bread, somewhat rustic and typically shaped round and flat.

Probably one of the most famous miches around at this time is the Miche Poilâne which comes from the Poilâne bakery in Paris, the loaf weighing in at 2 kg or about 4.4 pounds. Although the bread is a long-keeping one (www.Poilane.fr says their miche lasts 5 days after baking, then suggest toasting thereafter) and the flavour improves over a few days, I knew pretty much immediately that this huge a loaf would not be feasible for our household of 1.5 bread eaters. So when this miche showed up on the MellowBakers.com list of May Breads, I had to decide how to make it.

This recipe is the Mixed-Flour Miche on page 166 and it  makes a 3 lb. 10 oz. (about 1.64 kg.) loaf, smaller than Poilâne’s but still too huge, it would have gone stale long before I got to the end. I therefore chose to simply make two boules so about 820 grams each. I think some lucky friend or neighbour is about to get the spare loaf of bread, however because I still want to make other breads this month! The Corn Bread and Grissini on the bread list both look interesting.

NOTE: I had previously said this bread was (and happily thought I had made) the Miche Pointe-à-Callière on page 164 of the book. That was incorrect. While making the levain build, I had inadvertently flipped to the next page in the book and made the Mixed Flour Miche instead. So this is in fact the Mixed Flour Miche made from start to finish. I’ll do the PaC version at some other point.

So will this miche no longer be a miche? Are these half-miches? Still plenty big but at least would fit in my new round banetons and would give me an opportunity to get fancy with some decorative slashing. Maybe; as I write this, the loaves are doing their final proof and I haven’t got to the slashing part yet so we’ll see how that works out when we get to it below.

So let’s start this slightly unnervingly large bread.

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When good bread goes a-rye.

Sometimes, things just don’t work the way they’re supposed to. So I’ll just say right out of the gate I’ll be redoing this one because something went quite wrong here.

Wanna see? This is the “short version”, there are lots more photos that, had this worked out, would be in here too, like the usual Mis. I’ll just jump right in then. Come along and see if you can spot where it went wrong.


So I make the rye sourdough. Nothing tricky here: mix and let sit for 14-16 hours, I went with 16. Next morning, it has expanded nicely.

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Rustic Bread for MellowBakers

My third bread in the MellowBakers.com group bake, the Rustic Bread from Jeffrey Hamelman’s wonderful book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes is a pre-fermented loaf and has a combination of white bread, rye and whole wheat flours. Although it takes about 22 hours from start to finish, the time actually spent doing anything besides ‘waiting’ is really not that different from other breads.

The pre-ferment is designed to allow a portion of the dough to ferment and age, bringing out a lot of the wheat’s flavour without needing the whole batch of dough to sit about for 12-16 hours. I pretty much went from start to finish doing everything as expected, except for a little extra hand kneading after the first rough mix to add a small handful of flour as the dough was just a little too sticky.

As I noted, this bread used a pre-ferment so let’s start with a look at this step.

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Bagels (yes, again!) – a MellowBakers bread

Bagels! Yes, I’m blogging about bagels again, for the third (or is it fourth?) time.

Previously, I made and blogged bagels for the BBA Challenge from Reinhart’s book and a couple of other times based on Mike Avery’s recipes for Sourdough Bagels. While the Reinhart version was good, the Avery Sourdough were decidedly better. But now it’s time for a new contender.

Stepping up to the plate for the battle to Bagel Supremacy are the bagels from the Hamelman book Bread which just happen to also be part of the Mellow Bakers challenge for April 2010. Convenient, no?

A quick look at the recipe and, bypassing things listed as required like bagel boards, I note that the steps here are pretty much the same as the other bagel recipes. Mix the stiff dough, knead for a short while, proof, shape, proof again, boil and bake. That is the SHORT version of course, but the steps are not much different from the others. Basically this tells me I’m in familiar territory so no surprises are expected. Good. Let the fun begin!

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Hot Cross Buns! First MellowBakers bread

Well, here we go, the very first bread in the MellowBakers.com group bake!

Having run to the store the day before to pick up candied lemon peel, I was all ready today to get this bread started up. The whole recipe, which is from Jeffery Hamelman’s book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes, should take about 4.5 hours or so from start to finish – or until the buns are set out to cool.

If you don’t count the big mistake I made along the way, that is. I’ll get to that as we go along.

So as always, we’ll begin with the Mis en Place which is supposed to help avoid problems.

If you’d like to make this bread too, a recipe based on the Hamelman Bread recipe has been devised and posted by Susan on the WildYeastBlog.com so hop over there and print out a copy. Hers is slightly different but you should be able to follow what I’m doing here even if you use that recipe.

For those visiting the blog for the first time, you may like to know that almost all smaller photos (except headers) usually link to a larger version. Larger photos may not; hover your mouse over each pic to see if it will lead to a larger, more detailed version.

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