I am so happy to be baking with the Mellow Bakers! Here we are starting on our May breads. There is always some brave person making the bread first, and you can hang back and say, hmm, that’s interesting, I see what happened there,….or if you feel like trail blazing, that’s OK too. It’s a grand way to bake. Thank you my friends out there!
A miche is a big bread – an oven hogging, flowing monster of a bread. I know the sort. I have made one of Mick of Bethesdabakers miches and they are most definitely for sharing! I made a 900 gram mini version of this formula this time as B is not keen on strong sour flavoured whole wheat breads and I would be on my own eating this one.
The most vexing question was what on earth is the equivalent of high extraction wholewheat flour with a 92 % ash content in UK flours? Translating flours seem to be one of the biggest challenges we face as home bakers. UK, Europe, Far East, America and elsewhere – we all have different flours and we all have to figure it out in our own way. In England the flour that is available retail isn’t usually labelled with ash content; that makes it a bit tricky to go shopping. However, from reading the side notes in Bread, and checking out what others have done, I went for a mixture of strong stoneground wholemeal and Shipton Mill’s Swiss Dark Flour which I like a lot, and often use when a recipe calls for wholemeal, though I freely confess I haven’t a clue what its ash content is.
So I made a mix of
- 250 g ( sieved down from 300 grams ) organic strong whole meal
- 250 g Shipton Mill Swiss Dark Flour (has a wonderful nutty taste)
Flour sorted out. I made the firm starter the night before using the flour mix and my white mother starter.
Mixing the dough. I deviated from the method that Hamelman gives, because I mix by hand, and adding pieces of firm starter to the final dough only works if you have a proper mixer. I added the firm starter to the water which I had warmed up in an attempt to get the desired dough temperature. Then once the starter had loosened up a bit, I mixed it in really well so that it was more or less dispersed in the water. Added the rest of my flour mix. Left to autolyse for 20 minutes and added the salt.
Gave the bread the prescribed 2 folds at 50 and 100 minutes; used a little olive oil on the board and my hands to help me deal with this loose and sticky dough. Then after another 50 minutes, pre-shaped it once with flour, left it for a little, then shaped it again and placed seam side up in a lined banneton dusted with rye flour; popped its shower cap on, and onto in a sunny window where it sat for 2 hours, average dough temperature during this period about 76 ° F as per book. It didn’t do much for the first hour…
and then rose quite quickly during the second! See the big bubbles in the top of the dough in the picture below:
So it was more than ready to bake after 2 hours , tipped onto the peel….
.. into the oven at 225 º C on the stone with boiling water in tray below for 20 minutes and then lowered to 210 º C for another 40 minutes. I couldn’t really believe that a half size loaf would take as long as a whole loaf, but that is one of the mysteries of bread baking.
It flattened fairly alarmingly
but I had seen other Mellow Bakers pictures and I have seen worse collapsing dough of my own that managed to spring in the oven, so I have faith now, well most of the time. And it did manage to spring and looked fine after a full bake.
Showing extraordinary restraint I wrapped it in a tea towel once it had cooled completely and am only now cutting it, 24 hours later.
It has a low profile, fine – I was expecting that! It has a strong clear sour taste from the long fermenting period and a nice chewy texture. If you don’t like wholemeal bread, then this won’t make you happy, but if you like the idea of wholemeal but find it a bit bland sometimes, this might just be the bread for you, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste. I have no idea what it should be like, but hope that it hasn’t been too ‘lost in translation.’
I had a thought, maybe one should count the autolyse 20 minutes as part of the bulk ferment time? Does anyone know the answer?
I have chopped mine up into quarters and frozen three of them to eat at a later date or give away.