|Sure, there are three
steps, but the first step is
easy and the last two
steps don't require any
work at all!
|September 16, 1012
Miche is a French country loaf of both legendary history and
proportions. Developed centuries ago, in French villages with
communal ovens, large Miche loaves would be baked up on the
hearth every week or two, and would feed a family for several days
until the next firing up of the communal oven. Made with natural
cultures and a mix of wheat and rye, Miche is hearty and flavorful,
but not overly heavy. Some sources state that rye grew naturally as
up to 10% of the crop in wheat fields and thus made it into the
Miche, although pure rye was likely an inexpensive ingredient to
make wheat loaves go farther also.
Much later, in the twentieth century, the famous Poilane family
bakery in Paris baked Miche up as one of their signature breads,
dubbed "pain Poilane".
Miche is easy to mix up and bake at home, has a mild sourdough
flavor, and keeps very well for such a lean dough. It can shaped
and proofed as a boule or placed in a large basket or banneton and
proofed into a beautifully topped loaf. The large top lends itself to
creative stenciling or whimsical scoring patterns. One thing though,
unlike in the times of old, it never lasts a week at our house.
My easy recipe below makes a large but manageable 2 Kg loaf. I'll
typically get the starter going the night before baking (about 16
hours ahead of baking) then mix up the final dough the next morning
and bake in the late afternoon of the second day. The moisture
level of the dough is a bit on the low side for my breads, but the
lower moisture level helps the loaf maintain its shape better, and the
long proofing makes up for the lower amount of moisture.
Miche From Liquid Levain
* If using a stiffer sourdough, add about 1/2 cup water in addition to
Fully proofed starter
In the evening of day 1, mix the liquid levain and water in a large
bowl. Stir in the bread flour and mix well. Cover and allow to stand
at room temperature overnight.
The next morning, add water to the starter mixture and stir until
smooth. Stir in the salt, bread flour, whole wheat or spelt, and rye
flour until well mixed. Cover and allow to rise at room temperature for
On a floured surface, fold the dough a few times then form the
dough into a boule. Place on parchment paper on a peel or cutting
board. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room
temperature for about 45 minutes. Alternatively, the boule may be
placed in a large banneton for the second proofing.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven, baking stone and steam pan to 450
degrees. Uncover and score the loaf, then slide onto the baking
stone. Add a cup of hot water to the steam pan and turn the oven
down to 400 degrees. Bake for 55 minutes then remove to a wire
rack to cool.