Tag Archives: Toast

#33. Poilâne-Style Miche

This week in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge we tackle Poilâine-Style Miche.  When it comes to artisan bread, the name Poilâine is synonomous with excellence.  Bread freaks from all over the world travel to Paris to purchase bread from the Poilâne family.  Pierre Poilâne started a baking business in 1932 in Paris, creating bread using stone-ground flour, natural fermentation and a wood-fired oven. His son, Lionel took over the bakery in 1970, continuing the traditional methods.  Sadly, Lionel died in a plane crash in 2001.  His daughter, Apollonia now runs the business.  Lionel’s brother, Max, branched out on his own and opened his own bakery.  As in all families, there are squabbles about whose bread reigns supreme. 

Poilâine’s most famous bread is a 2 kilogram (about 4.4 pounds) round country sourdough loaf, called Pain Poilâine.  Lionel simply called it a miche.  The bread is made from a sourdough starter, grey stone-ground flour (whole wheat flour with about 10-20% of the bran removed) , water and sea salt from Guérande.  There are about 20 trained bread artisans baking at the family factory in Bievres, outside of Paris.  Although the dough is now machine kneaded, all other aspects of creating the bread are done by hand in the time honored method established by Pierre Poilâne. 

Peter Reinhart gives a wonderful detailed description, in his book, on how the bread is created.  It is indeed a labour of love.  The amazing thing about this bread is that is keeps for about a week, at room temperature.  It is a dense and chewy bread and as Peter Reinhart says, “the flavours change in the mouth with each chew.”  The Poilâne family says that the flavour peaks on day 3. 

If you can’t get to Paris, they will ship you a loaf.  I went to their web site , created an account for myself and put 1 loaf into my shopping basket.  For 37.10 Euros ($52.30 Canadian Dollars) they will send me my very own loaf!  I have not yet clicked on confirm order but I am thinking about it.    If I do go through with it then I really will classify for “Bread Freak ” status.  I’ll keep you posted.

So, onto my attempt at creating this magical miche.  Day 1 we make the firm starter, mixing up some whole wheat flour, some of our sourdough starter and water.  This gets refrigerated overnight.

On Day 2, the final dough is made.  In order to replicate the “grey flour” used at Poilane, Peter Reinhart suggests we put our whole wheat flour through a sieve to extract some of the bran. 
 

I was very excited to finally open up the jar of Grey Sea salt that has been sitting in my cupboard for over a year now.  I’m not quite sure why I hadn’t used it yet, but here was the perfect opportunity.

 The starter is mixed up with the sifted whole wheat flour, grey sea salt and more water.  This is a big mass of dough, way too big for the Kitchenaid, so hand kneading was necessary.  Here is the dough just after I began mixing.

After about 15 minutes of hand kneading, I had a beautiful supple silky dough.

Once the dough is kneaded, it gets placed in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap and ferments at room temperature until it doubles in volume, about 4 hours.  At this point it is formed into a boule and placed into a linen towel lined bowl.  So that the dough will not stick, the towel is sprayed with a bit of oil and then dusted with flour.  The boule should be placed seam side up, then covered with the towel and refrigerated overnight. 

As you can see from the photo below, I screwed up and placed the dough into the bowl, seam side down, so that the smooth side was on top.  You might say, big deal, so what?  The big deal is that the bottom of the dough (where the seam is) becomes the top of the loaf and then your seam turns into some unsightly cracks.

 

The next morning the dough is removed from the fridge and allowed to sit at room temperature for about 4 hours.  Then the dough is gently turned out onto a baking peel, lined with cornmeal and is scored.  At the Poilaine bakery they score it with the letter P in a gorgeous font.  I wanted to score mine with S&S (for Salt and Serenity) but my fine motor skills are sorely lacking for artistry of that caliber!  I decided to go with a square design with an X in the center.  Unfortunately, I also had the cracks from the seam of the boule to contend with so it looks a bit strange artistic.  But that’s the wonderful thing about Artisan bread – each loaf is hand made and no two are identical. 

The bread goes onto a baking stone in a hot oven and is baked for about 45 minutes.  Here is is my loaf on and below it the Poilâne loaf.  I can’t tell the difference, can you? (Can you say denial?)

I sliced into the bread after about 2 hours.  I thought the taste was good but a little “whole wheaty”.  I closed my eyes to see if the taste changed with every chew, as Peter Reinhart promised, but I don’t think my palate is that highly developed.   I did notice that I liked the bread a little better on day 2.  It seemed a bit more mellow, and not as earthy.  It lasted very well in a paper bag for almost 5 days and then we sliced what was left and froze it for toast.

I will try this one again, next time using a recipe for Whole Grain Sourdough  passed on to me by Sally of Bewitching Kitchen.  It uses whole wheat flour only in the starter and a mixture of white bread flour, rye flour and spelt in the remainder of the dough.  Sally promises that it is more like the real Poilâne.

32. 100% Sourdough Rye

I KNOW THAT WHEN YOU ARE SHOUTING ONLINE YOU TYPE ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS.   How do you whisper online?  I need to know because what I’m about to say should be whispered.  “I loved this bread!”  I am whispering it because I am afraid I may be drummed out of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.

Most of my bread freak friends who have already made this bread absolutely hated it.  Many of them threw it out.  Some turned it into croutons and others into breadcrumbs. Someone (I won’t mention any names) called it play-doh with caraway seeds.  The main complaint was that it was way too dense and chewy.  This is precisely why I loved it.  This was no spineless bread.  It had guts and personality and wonderful flavour.

The last rye bread we made (New York Deli Rye) was about 1/3 rye flour and 2/3 white bread flour so it had a mild rye flavour.  This bread was 100% rye flour.  The thing you need to know about rye flour is that it contains pentosan, a gum protein that causes the dough to become gummy if mixed for too long.  Extra care has to be taken with kneading this bread.  Rye flour has a very low gluten content so we are warned that a 100% rye bread will not have the same soft and high crumb that a bread made with wheat flour will have.

The bread begins with mixing about 1/2 a cup of Phyl (my starter) with rye flour and water.  It is just mixed until all the flour is hydrated.  No need for it to be smooth.  Then this is left on the counter until it doubles in size and this put in the fridge for an overnight rest.

You also prepare a “soaker”.  This is a mixture of pumpernickel grind flour and water.  it is covered and left out on the counter all night.

 The next day the soaker, the starter, white rye flour, salt, caraway seeds and water are mixed for about 6 minutes to form the dough.  Then the dough is put into an oiled glass container, covered and left to rise for almost 4 hours, until it doubles in size.  Usually this step takes about 1-2 hours.  The longer rising time is due to the lower gluten content in rye flour.

After the dough has doubled, it is gently divided into 2 pieces and then formed into batards (oval shapes).  Since it was quite late by this point, I covered the loaves and refrigerated them overnight.  The next morning  I took them out of the fridge and let them sit on the counter for about 4 hours, covered with plastic wrap.  You can see that they expanded widthwise, but not very much in height.

 Then they were scored and baked in a very hot oven.

Indeed the crumb on this bread is not very open, quite dense.  And true, the bread did not rise very much, so my loaves were quite flat.  But I loved the true rye flavour of this bread and the chewy texture.

The bread was great with Le Blackburn cheese, grapes and a glass of Syrah wine.  I had it again this morning toasted for breakfast and loved it even more.

31. New York Deli Rye

New York Deli Rye“.  Those very words conjure up some pretty powerful images.  For Peter Reinhart, author of  The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, those words bring back the childhood memory of having to make that agonizing decision on visits to Hymie’s Deli; would it be a roast beef, schmaltz  and onion sandwich or a corned beef,  coleslaw and russian dressing sandwich?  But always on onion rye!  Oh, such decisions. 

For me, the memory does not involve rye bread at all.  I know, sacrilege to deli lovers everywhere and I apologize.  My starch of choice was potato chips.  I’d wrap the  pastrami slices around a great big potato chip.  The folded chips were the best.  (We called those wish chips)  Okay, all you cardiologists out there please don’t comment on this post warning me about impending heart disease.  I do not indulge in this on a regular basis any more, but every once in a while…

 

 

Bread # 31 in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is New York Deli Rye.  The version in the book adds sauteed onions to the dough.  This seemed kind of strange to me.  (I know. … This coming from a woman who wraps her deli meat around potato chips).  I guess it just seems odd because I love rye bread best for breakfast, toasted with salted butter and American Spoon sour cherry preserves.  I ate this for breakfast every day for 2 entire years.  I tend to do that.  These days it’s Oat Squares cereal, with a handful of Fibre First on top and a sliced banana.  I’m just a wild and crazy girl!  All this to say, I decided to leave out the sauteed onions.

This bread is a two day affair.  I was thrilled because I got to use my sourdough starter “Phyl” again in this recipe.  I mixed 1 cup of Phyl with white rye flour and water and it sit on the counter for about 3 hours until bubbly.  Then into the fridge it went for an overnight rest.  The next day the starter is mixed with the rest of the ingredients (bread flour, rye flour, brown sugar, salt, yeast, caraway seeds, buttermilk and vegetable oil). 

Rye flour has a very low gluten content (6-8%) as compared to regular bread flour (12%).  What this means is that you have to be careful and not knead this bread for too long or else the dough becomes very gummy.  I kneaded it by hand for about 6 minutes.  A regular wheat dough recipe normally requires 12 minutes of kneading.  I ended up with a beautiful supple dough.

After the dough rests and doubles in size, it’s time to form the loaves.  This bread could be formed into sandwich loaves and baked in a loaf pan but to me, rye bread should be an oval free form loaf.  So I shaped mine into batards (torpedo shape) so I would have a nice oval rye loaves.  Here’s a video of me forming the dough into batards.  Since no one was home at the time, I managed to figure out how to mount the camera onto a tripod as shaping batards takes 2 hands.  Another new skill mastered!

After about 90 minutes they have grown to about 1 1/2 times their original size and it’s time to slash.  Like this:

And like this: (I think I’m finally getting the hang of this!)

I brushed the loaves with beaten egg white to ensure a shiny finish.  I was not disappointed.  These were some gorgeous burnished loaves.

Slicing into the loaves revealed a fairly tight crumb with just enough holes to make me happy.

 This rye bread made excellent pastrami and dill pickle sandwiches and I threw in a few potato chips for old times sake.

 

Check out what some of my fellow Bread Freak friends thought of this bread:

Oggi of “I can do that” loved the flavour and chew of this bread.

Sally of “Bewitching Kitchen” was surprised at how much she liked this one.

Mags of “The Other Side of 50″ made adorable bread bowls.

Paul of “Yumarama” changed things up a bit and used some dark rye flour.

Katya of “Bread Babes” baked her rye in a clay baker.