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 ( 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 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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English Muffin Loaf, Mike Avery style

Decided to make something today to try and use up some of the extra sourdough I have hanging around. So I hunted around and came across this recipe from Mike Avery’s website.

We’re probably all familiar with English Muffins, whether bought from the bread shelf at the local grocery or, if you’re lucky, home made. And one of the big calling cards to an english muffin is the texture and the “nooks and crannies” you get by spitting them with a fork and toasting, then those little peaks and valleys crisp right up and manage to hold on to way more butter and/or jam.

Well, this isn’t like that.

But it’s close: instead of being individual rounds of bread cooked up on a griddle (yes, the “normal” english muffin is cooked on a stovetop, not baked) this one is formed into a loaf and baked, then sliced. Just like regular loaf bread.

We’ll discuss the taste and texture at the end. So let’s get our ingredients out and mix us up a batch.


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Sourdough Bagels Recipe

Sourdough Bagels

Now that I’ve made Mike Avery’s Sourdough Bagels a few times over, (below is my slightly modified version of that recipe) I’m very happy with the results. These sourdough bagels are coming out nice and golden with a dense and slightly chewy crumb, a good crust and terrific flavour.


I’ve done one round of the Bagel recipe from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice as well and although they came out looking great and tasting very nice indeed, I found I was missing the interesting flavour tones that the sourdough gave when using the Mike Avery recipe. It was also good to give a try to a recipe that many people have used and to make a definite comparison.

The hands down winner is the Sourdough Bagels.

So here then is the (slightly modified) recipe for Mike Avery’s Sourdough Bagels (link to the original web page at the bottom of the post). I’ve modified the amounts since his recipe, as he states on his web page, was designed for a class and therefore makes only four bagels… hardly enough to make a run at home when that would only last maybe a day, if you are lucky! So I bumped it up in increments to a more useful 12 bagel size. This would then be enough to bake on two normal sized home baking sheet (6 per sheet with a fair bit of elbow room) in a home oven and last you more than just a day or so. (We normally freeze six, they still taste just fine after thawing.)

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World’s Best Pancakes: starter discard rescue recipe

pancakes1For the home baker who keeps a sourdough starter, every time you feed that starter you have to reduce the quantity or face possibly ending up with an Olympic sized pool’s worth of starter.  When you are baking maybe three loaves a week, and even if you refrigerate the starter for a week or two, excess starter is a reality. So what do you do with this excess? You would rather not just toss it in the garbage and definitely not down the drain (unless you enjoy keeping your plumber’s wallet well padded) so what’s to be done?

Well, PANCAKES are one delicious and easy way to use this extra starter up.

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Starter Recycling: What to do with the extra

As you feed your starter, you’ll probably realize that there’s stuff you can do with it but need a bit of help figuring what. In this entry I’ll touch (and link) on a few potential ideas.

Now for anyone who’s in the process of building a starter from scratch, the portions you discard are not actually starter at this point, the yeast and bacteria you’re working hard to cultivate are still not at any appropriate level to ward off the other yeasts and bacteria that also live in the flour paste. So until you’ve got your brand new from scratch starter active and bubbling away regularly, just toss that extra stuff out. Or at least dump it into the recycle bin and let the earthworms have a nice munch.

Those who’s starter is active and are feeding on a regular schedule, you can do a number of things with that extra. What you’re putting aside is exactly the same as the small amount you’re keeping and feeding, it’s simply “excess”. That excess can be used, obviously, to start up your bread making starter or even make up new starters and switch from UAP flour to whole wheat or rye if you think you’ll be making those types of breads regularly.

But it can also be put aside into an “old starter tub” until you have enough back up to make the World’s Best Pancakes. You can also make some tasty baked good (see recipes next) or simply use it in any other baking recipe that uses flour and water, replacing the same amount by weight as you’re adding in excess starter.

More Recipes for your Extra Sourdough Starter

from Mike Avery’s

English Muffins
Pizza Shells
Carrot Pineaple Cupcakes
Blueberry Sourdough Muffins

Do It Yourself Flakes

If you’ve used the starter for a while and really like it’s character once it’s had a good while to develop, you could make your own dry starter flakes to save as back-up or send to friends. Simply spread a thin layer of your excess starter on parchment or wax paper, wait until it’s dried then break it up into little chunks. You can then put this into baggies and mail it or freeze it to keep for many months. Before you spread the excess starter, you may want to feed it and spread it just after it’s hit it’s peak, when it’s “well fed”.

Why can’t I just keep it, why do I have to discard so much each time?”

The simple answer is that you need to feed your beasties a fair amount of new flour and water so even the smallest amount you’d be adding is at least the same (1 – 1 – 1) as what you start with. If you didn’t remove a fair amount, you’d soon enough be using up a TON of flour to keep your bathtub-sized starter fed as you add “as much again” and don’t discard. It’s actually more economical to get rid of a few grams of flour than to try to feed an ever expanding vat of starter.

The other reason is you really do NOT need to keep a very large “mother” starter. With the 30-60-60 system, you have 150g or about a half cup of starter; you could even do with half of that, doing 15-30-30 if you were quite frugal. But holding on to a larger quantity of starter, unless you’re a prolific baker and use a lot several times a week, isn’t any more efficient than the 150g amount. To house a two cup starter, you’d need a six cup jar or bigger and that’s getting pretty big on the counter or in the fridge. And you’d still be no further ahead than if you were doing 30-60-60.