Grissini with a Twist

Here we are in mid-May and this is already the third and last of the May Challenge breads to do in the MellowBakers group bake. And this one is way easy! With just a mix and knead of the dough then a one hour proofing the biggest concern here is: what to put IN the bread.

Grissini, as noted in a previous post Mambo Italiano, is the Italian term for bread sticks. Yep, plain ol’ bread sticks. Except not like the stuff you get in a box from the grocery store. Oh no. These are wonderful little invitations for creativity. Sure, you could make them just plain or with a little salt and sesame seed. But you’ve got your whole spice cupboard – and more – to toss into the mix here so why not get creative?

Now unlike other blog entries here, I sort of did this one very much on the spur of the moment so we’re going to miss the first couple of steps but you’ll probably not miss them this time around. Because these are SO EASY TO MAKE!

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Corn Bread

When a lot of people think of “corn bread”, they picture the soda-risen American style quickbread that’s a staple in American culture with endless personalized recipes handed down from grandmothers. Well made, it’s delicious and relatively fast to produce.

This isn’t that. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

This is a yeasted bread made with corn. And it’s made with a pre-ferment so that a lot of flavour is drawn out of the wheat flour. Unlike it’s quickbread counterpart, the crumb is … well, I won’t give too much away quite yet, we have a whole process to get through before we get into the final results. There’s a sneak peek of it in the header pic but let’s see how we got there, shall we?

Oh, and this is a Mellow Bakers bread, one of three selected for may 2010 from Jeffrey Hamelman’s great book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes. If you want to join us as we bake our way through the entire book, don’t hesitate to jump in at any point.

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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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