Wednesday, April 14, 2010
BBA Challenge #33: Poilâne-Style Miche
Here is is. The bread on the cover of the Bread Baker's Apprentice.
This is part three on my experiences with Pain Poilâne. The first two posts can be found here and here.
Last year, after much poking about on The Fresh Loaf website, I decided to get a few bread books. Feeling intimitdated by people's comments on Hamelman's Bread, I decided to get The Bread Baker's Apprentice instead, figuring that it was a good place to start.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice is where I first really learnt about Baker's Percentages, and where I made my first bread using weight measurements. I made the Pain a l'Ancienne maybe about twice when I kept reading about this challenge to bake through the Bread Baker's Apprentice, which I had gotten just a few weeks before, and which I was reading cover to cover. I hesitated for a bit, but in the end, contacted Nicole from Pinch My Salt, and decided to join. I thought I would probably bake maybe about half the book, and then lose interest.
But here we are. To date, I'm only three breads shy of completing the Challenge, but still a way to go in posting.
Since the beginning- Since the day I got the book, I've wanted to make this bread. Indeed, I've made variations and have also eaten about a dozen loaves of Pain Poilâne- for the sake of research, of course- and I've visited the original bakery on Rue Cherche-Midi in Paris. Because this bread is made with sourdough, however, I couldn't even think of baking it. Instead, I stuck to the Pain a l'Ancienne with its rich flavor and awesome provenance.
As soon as I started my own sourdough starter, I've wanted to bake this bread. But I didn't make this exact recipe until I got to it in the order of the Challenge. I have baked other variations, as in my last post, and the results have only gotten better as time progresses. My oven and I have gotten to know each other fairly well, thanks to the thermometers who helped our relationship.
For the cover bread, I decided to make two variations. The first, with sifted coarse-ground whole wheat flour, the second, with Type 1050 flour- which is finely ground. I didn't really scientifically stagger any of the times, so the 1050 loaf actually got about an hour more rise time in the bulk ferment.
I prepared the pre-ferment the night before, using Beatrice, having fed her sifted whole-wheat the week before. You'll notice bran specks here and there on the loaf made with the 1050 flour. Here, the sifted whole-wheat is on the left, the 1050 on the right.
Here's the whole-wheat pre-ferment. I pulled up some of the top layer to reveal the structure underneath. Essentially this is the same as a firm starter.
The 1050 pre-ferment also had a beautiful structure, though it was a bit tighter.
Here's the mise en place for the miche made with the sifted whole-wheat flour. In addition to the flour and pre-ferment, all you have is water and salt. I still find it quite amazing to bake breads that have so few ingredients.
As usual, in the Electrolux Assistent, water goes in first, followed by the pre-ferment and a little bit of the flour.
Eventually, all the flour is added in and the machine is allowed to work its magic. I love taking pictures like this. It looks like the machine is going super-fast when it's just going moderately fast.
Note that even with 2kg of dough, this mixer does not even break a sweat. I've even mixed the occasional miche with a schedule of 12min mixing on low, 5 min rest, 12 min mixing, 5 min rest and a final 12 minute mix. It makes wonderful dough. I'd like to see your Kitchen-Aid do that!
This is the ball of dough at the end of the mixing. I put in some hand mixing for good measure. Because it is sifted coarse whole-wheat flour, you inevitably get some bran in the final product, which does cause the dough to take longer to develop.
Here's the part where I would normally talk about my secret weapon. But the truth is that I have none. I do, however, have ready access to salt from Brittany, which is used in the original Pain Poilâne. This is a kilo of grey sea salt. Because the grains are so large, I usually grind about a quarter kilo at a time in my coffee grinder (which has actually never seen coffee) and use it up as I need.
The mise en place for the miche using the Type 1050 flour.
Again, the DLX handles the dough with ease. Even though the machine goes to a crazily fast speed, I rarely mix the dough above the slowest speed. It's just that good.
And just to reiterate: It kneads wonderfully even at the slowest speed.
Here's the comparison shot with the 1050 miche on the right. Because that flour is finely ground, the dough was less lumpy, probably because of the quicker flour absorption. Curiously, that dough was also much more slack even though the two had equal amounts of water.
I usually do a bulk rise in the 8 liter bowl of the DLX if I'm not using it.
Otherwise, I'll use the largest glass bowl I have.
My proofing basket is a colander, lined with a square of linen. I actually sewed it in with a length of kitchen thread and a large needle.
The miche with the sifted whole-wheat came out quite stiff. I was worried that it would come out too dry.
It came out maybe a tad dry, but overall, it looked good.
Even the bottom was pretty brown despite all the flouring. Of course, I only got a few cracks, nothing like the complex structure of real Poilâne loaves.
The scoring was lovely, but not perfect.
And the loaf was not as dark as it could have been.
I even complained about the height. The loaf was simply not wide enough, and not low enough. I realized that the dough should have been wetter. It would have spread out more.
And while we're on the complaining part, the crumb was merely so-so. It was pretty tight in the middle, with some holes towards the outside, but it really could just have been sandwich bread. Again, hydration was too low.
The miche made with the 1050 flour was a whole nother beast. Because this flour is pretty much finely ground, the dough was quite slack. Usually, it takes me less than a minute to have the dough plopped on the peel, photographed, scored and shoved into the oven. I take a pause of a few seconds before pouring water into the pan on the floor of the oven.
It was obviously underproofed because there was tons of oven rise. Also, if you look closely, you'll see a ring of lines in the middle of the loaf. That's from the thread at the bottom of the proofing basket.
Also, on a closer inspection, there is a curious line on the bottom of my loaf! This wrinkle resulted from having to readjust the loaf on the stone so that it wouldn't fall off. In the last two posts I mentioned that the Poilâne loaves have odd markings on the bottom. In addition, the last loaf of Pain Poilâne that I bought was curved inward at the bottom. I stacked them to photograph, and the two pieces fit perfectly. So the markings could also be from a cooling rack, or from being packed tightly on a rack to cool.
The 1050 miche came out flat. Maybe a tad too flat, but it definitely had the right form.
The oven spring, on the other hand was just too much. The bread split open.
And revealed its bready guts.
I actually liked the crumb of this one better, even though it was too hydrated.
A quick comparison shows the major differences between the two miches.
As for the taste? I found them not as sour as the original, but still good, with that rich taste of almost-whole grain. The crust was chewy and the bread was remained soft when left out. Of course the exposed parts dried out, but once that piece was chopped off the rest- the inside was still soft.
Not being one satisfied with half-perfect bread, I re-did the recipe the next weekend and hit the maximum allowed hydration with the coarse-ground whole-wheat flour. I even left it in the oven longer than usual. AP269 of Family and Food mentioned that she got a sour flavor by retarding the bread in the oven overnight.
I did just that for the last rise and the bread pulled out a much better sour profile. Curiously, while the original loaves did not get much sour as the days progressed, this one did. The flavor underwent a transformation on the third day. Of course, I didn't even cut into it until the day after baking, so it was officially the second eating day.
The flour dusting, again, is not ideal. Poilâne has lots of flour on the top that turns into a rich light brown, perhaps serving to insulate the crust undeneath, and the scored parts, exposed to the heat, are almost black.
As for the crumb. Open and light. Almost perfect!
Other bakers that have dared to bake "The Bread On The Cover" include:
Oggi from I can do that!
Janice from Round the Table
Sally from Bewitching Kitchen
Anne-Marie from Rosemary and Garlic
Cheryl from A Tiger In The Kitchen
Cindy from Salt and Serenity
AP269 from Family and Food
txfarmer's blog in chinese, but with lots of pictures
Phyl from Of Cabbages and Kings
Others BBA Bakers on the cusp of baking the Miche:
Kelly from Something Shiny
Mags from The Other Side of Fifty
Rebecca from Grongar
Chris from Eating is the Hard Part
Victoria from Goth Panda
Originator of the Challenge, and all-around awesome blogger: Nicole from Pinch My Salt