Tag Archives: sourdough

The Vermont Sourdough Trilogy

One of the breads that came up in the June list for MellowBakers.com was the Hamelman Vermont Sourdough, a bread I’ve made before a number of times and posted about here several tries on the blog.

The cool thing, however, is that because we’re group baking through all 85 recipes in Hamelman’s awesome book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes, we are amalgamating variations on a recipe so in this case we had not only the standard Vermont Sourdough but also the Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat and the Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole grain.

[easyazon-image-link asin="0471168572" alt="Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51OV5EvTM6L._SL160_.jpg" align="right" width="130" height="160"]Since we’re supposed to be “Mellow” bakers, we can choose which, if any, of the three varieties we will make. I decided: all three. Since I’ve done the straight up VS already, I wanted to give the other two types a go and see how they compared.

This still leaves two other breads for June: Pizza and Beer bread. I’ll try to get to those in the next few weeks. But let’s have a look at the Vermont Trilogy for now.

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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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Roasted Onion & Asiago Cheese Miche

Here it is, the final bread in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and also the last bread in the BBA Challenge which began back in May of 2009. Is it really almost a year ago? Wow. Well, about 43 weeks in all since the idea was to make one bread every week and this is bread #43. Granted, I did NOT make every single recipe, a few were for certain not going to be enjoyed in our household and it was better to skip than to throw away a partially eaten loaf. Still, the bulk of them were done and we’ve found some nice breads as well as a couple of duds we’ll not be getting back to.

None the less, we’re now looking at making another cheesy bread, this time a three day extravaganza, according to the book. Day one: mix the sourdough sponge and allow to proof for 8 hours. The mixing part took about 4 minutes so this isn’t exactly a difficult or time consuming step. The sponge is basically just sourdough starter, water and flour. I made this up very early in the morning and had it proofed 8 hours later that day. Here the recipe says to chill it until tomorrow, then let it sit an hour to warm back up. I decided to skip that chilling part since the dough was going to again chill overnight in the final proof stage so flavour development would still occur while I shaved a day off the full run. Since this is a heavily cheesed and onioned loaf, I don’t think the dough flavour will suffer.

So later that same day, I’ve got my ingredients ready and I’m heading into step two, mixing the dough and bulk proofing.

Day two is supposed to be preparing the roasted onions then mixing the dough and refrigerating overnight. Day three  is finishing the loaf’s toppings, final proofing and baking in the hearth oven.

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Potato, Cheddar & Chives Bread

Here we are at the 42nd recipe in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice with only one more to go in the BBA Challenge. This is, I’m hoping, a good counterbalance to the previous White Bread that was a bit lackluster and will help to close up the Challenge with a bit of a bang.

This recipe, as well as the next and final one, is a cheese laden bread and looks to have definite character. This is not bread for peanut butter and jam sandwiches – well, maybe it is – but will decidedly want to be paired with more robust spreads and topping such as deli meats or served with a stew.

This is an enriched bread and takes only one day to make, as long as you’ve got your sourdough starter ready. I fed my starter early in the morning and, using the excess, built up the required 300g in one go; it was ready to go in just a couple of hours.

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Sourdough Pumpernickel

Here we are at bread No. 34 in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Sourdough Pumpernickel. The header image is the same as the prevous entry since it features both the lighter New York Deli and the Pumpernickel breads. These are what we should be hoping to see once we’re done baking.

This was a pretty simple bread, all in all, nothing terribly tricky or fancy to do, the most unusual thing here is the use of cocoa powder to boost the dark colour of the bread. Otherwise, there’s nothing in the process we haven’t already done many times. So let’s have a go at this 10th-to-last recipe in this BBA Challenge.

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New York Deli Rye

And here we are at the first of several Sourdough Rye breads in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, bread number 31 of the BBA Challenge.

This one seems intriguing as it’s not simply a rye bread, not even a rye and caraway bread but a rye, caraway and onion bread. The pressure on this one coming out well is high as I was a little disappointd in the previous Basic Sourdough. That was a good brad but didn’t really fare well compared to the Hamelman Vermont Sourdough. So this New York Deli Rye had  to pick up the batton and go the distance. Did it? Let’s see…

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