Miche: A Beautiful Boule
This traditional style of bread was taught to me by a Petite Artisan in the secluded Wisconsin North Woods. A Miche is almost this Primitive/Traditional European Boule with rustic / very hands on procedures. I have made many breads prior to
my introduction to the Miche, (Ciabbata, Brioche, Bageuttes, Focaccia and so on…) yet none seemed to be as simple and country.
Before the Bread was ever made in the our kitchen, the Starter had to be well maintained, not to mention that it had to be enough to supply our bread making needs. We would feed the starter Daily always taking into account the amount of loaves that we were hoping to make the next day. The bread would begin as a mixture of Flours, Water, Salt, and our Ripened Starter mixed by hand and allowed to ferment in a warm spot in the kitchen.
The Whole kitchen would take on an aroma of Sour Bread, creating a very “Welcome Home” fragrance, every time I walked into work. Rather mechanically developing the glutens in the dough, through use of a Hobart, or even Manually kneading the bread; we would gently fold the edges of the loaf back in under the heart of the mass, continuously maintaining a smooth rounded Ball. The folding and fermenting would go on for hours, working around all of the other prep going on in the kitchen. Every half an hour, someone would stop what they were doing and fold the Raw Miche, before recovering the bowl and continuing the fermentation process. Forearms would be covered in bits of cultured started, only to be found later that night, well after service just as you jumped into the shower.
The dough was a much looser consistency than any other bread that I had worked with, barely holding shape as the heap was flopped onto a cutting board to be divided and shaped before another couple of hours in a final Fermentation in our Bannetons.
The loaves were cooked at a high heat with steam, for maybe and hour. The final product was and airy, soft, delicate sourdough with a beautifully golden crunchy (and chewy) crust, fit for room temp butter and nothing else.