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Jul 26, 2012

Poilane-Style Miche

My cousin went to Paris and made a pilgrimage to the Poilane shop, the boulangerie founded by Lionel Poilane. I'm still jealous. Fortunately for me, she returned with this....

This is a bag of flour from that famous bakery and it had been sitting in her freezer for a while when she brought it to me. It was about that time that I began baking the recipes from the book I've been baking my way through for about a year.

This is the bread featured on the cover of Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Supposedly this bread is mythical. The flour is whole grain that is sifted to remove some of the bran. This is a very large loaf of bread. Even though I had the "high extraction" flour, it was not enough, so I sifted some stone ground whole wheat flour through a fine mesh sieve to add to the recipe. I'm pretty sure I would not have the patience to do this for the flour for an entire loaf. I mean, the recipe calls for about 2 pounds of flour. An easier option is to use 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 bread flour to simulate the flour in the recipe.

This bread takes two days to make. On the first day you mix up the "firm starter," which takes no time at all.

On the second day you make the final dough and bake the bread.

Poilane-Style Miche

Adapted from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Firm Starter

7 oz. fed 100% hydration sour dough starter*
9 oz. of either sifted medium grind whole wheat flour, a mix of 1/2 bread flour and 1/2 whole wheat bread flour, or if you are lucky enough to have a cousin who visits Paris, Poilane flour
4 oz. room temperature water

*The book has instructions for creating your own sourdough starter. I bought King Arthur Flour's sourdough starter and built mine from that about two years ago. It is going strong today and has several offspring out there in bread land. King Arthur Flour's website also has instructions for creating your own starter. 

Final Dough

32 oz. of either sifted medium grind whole wheat flour or a mix of 1/2 bread flour and 1/2 whole wheat bread flour
2 T of course sea salt or Kosher salt
18 to 22 oz lukewarm (90 to 100 degrees F.) water
Coarse cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting

Did you notice? No yeast. This bread gets all of it's rising power from your starter. Make sure your starter is freshly fed. If I've let mine sit for too long, I might feed it a couple of times to get it going. 

Day One

Combine the ingredients for the firm starter and knead for about three minutes by hand or machine. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or small dough rising bucket and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size. This should take about 4 to 6 hours. Go shopping. Catch up on your DVR recordings. Clean out a closet. Run a 5K. Once it has doubled, put it in the refrigerator and leave it there overnight. 

Day Two

Remove the starter from the refrigerator, cut it into a few pieces, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it warm up to room temperature for about an hour. 

In a large bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Add the firm starter and 18 oz. of the water and combine with a dough whisk or large spoon to combine. Add more water if necessary to form the ingredients into a soft ball. 

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and get ready to knead. Unless you have a Hobart, Bosch, or other large capacity mixer, you will need to knead =) by hand. For 12 to 15 minutes. Sometimes it's easier doing this on a lower surface like a kitchen table for leverage. I use a silicon baking mat (such as a Silpat) when doing it on the table. 

Your final dough should be should be tacky but not sticky. 

Move the dough to a large oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and spray with oil, and cover with plastic wrap. 

Allow the dough to rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 4 hours.

Trying not to deflate the dough too much, dump it out and form it into a boule, stretching the "skin" of the dough to create tension on the surface, and gathering the dough together on the top of the ball. I wish I had a photo. If I'm losing you, check YouTube for tutorials.

Line a large deep bowl with a smooth dish towel. Spray the dish towel with oil and generously flour the towel. Place the boule in the bowl, seam side up, and spray the top with spray oil. Cover with plastic wrap.

Proof at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours until it grows 1 1/2 times in size.

Place a pizza stone in your oven on the second to lowest level. On the lowest level, place your broiler pan. Preheat the oven to its highest possible temperature. Get a spray bottle ready with water and boil two cups of water. Place a piece of heavy duty parchment paper on a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet, spray with spray oil, and sprinkle with corn meal or semolina. I used semolina. Turn the dough out onto the parchment (flip it... If that makes you uncomfortable, place the parchment on top of the dough, top with the peel, and turn the whole contraption over, remove the bowl), and gently peel off the towel. Slash the dough with a pound sign. The dough will spread and seem kind of flat. Don't worry. It will rise in the oven if you haven't over proofed it.

Open the hot oven and slide the dough, paper and all, onto the pizza stone. Cover the window of your oven with a dish towel and pour the boiled water into the broiler pan. Close the oven door for 30 seconds.

Open the door and spray the oven walls with water. Do this two more times every thirty seconds.

Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees. After 25 minutes, rotate the bread 180 degrees and, if possible, remove the parchment. Bake another 30 to 40 minutes until the loaf reaches 200 degrees. The loaf should be a deep golden brown.

Remove the dough to a wire rack and let it cool.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Beautiful! And that is absolutely one of my favorite book covers - I immediately thought of it when I saw your first photo. What a thoughtful gift...takes away that sting of jealousy a wee bit ;). Lovely tutorial and loaf, so happy you've shared it w/ BYOB.

  2. Thank you Heather. And thanks for letting me share!

  3. If your cooling rack is the same size as mine, this is a huge loaf. Wow. It turned out so well, thank you for sharing this with BYOB.

  4. Hi Michelle. My rack is the size that fits in a sheet pan. So, yes, definitely! Cutting it was an adventure!


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