Monday 14 March 2011

The Mill Loaf - attempt #1 - a miche

The adventures in sourdough continue. And I appear to have made a flying saucer. I will not be defeated though, I'm sure that all practice is worthwhile and that success in achieving my perfect loaf is just around the corner....
This recipe is Dan Lepard's Mill Loaf, taken from The Handmade Loaf, a book that I love looking through, if only to imagine that I could make bread that looks even halfway as good as the amazing pictures in the book.

I halved the recipe because I don't need such a big loaf, and have given half of it to J anyway. I think the only other things I did differently to the recipe were to keep the loaf in a very warm place rather than at room temperature. Perhaps next time I should just keep it at room temp and not worry if there appears to have been no growth whatsoever. (And for those who are looking for a warm place, I can vouch that my sourdough is pretty active if I put the bowl containing the dough on top of a warm hot-water bottle, incubated inside a 13.5 tog duvet..... mmm, toasty warm!)

I tried to shape the dough as a baton style loaf, as pictured in THML but after about 30 minutes I had a ciabatta slipper shape about an inch high, if that even, that clearly wasn't going to hold it's shape. I then decided to form the dough into a ball, and tried hard to create tension over the surface of the dough to form a tight ball, before placing this upside down (i.e. seam side upwards) in a 2 litre pyrex bowl, lined with a rye-floured tea towel. Sadly I didn't manage to get enough rye flour into the tea towel and when it came to turning out for baking some of the dough had stuck, as you can see in the picture above - the wrinkles are where I had to prise the dough away from the teatowel very gently. Sadly, I clearly hadn't got enough tension into the surface of the ball, it quickly slumped to a saucer. On baking there was a bit of spring, but not enough to rectify my mistakes in handling!

Fortunately this was a rather delicious disaster of a bread. So not really a disaster then! The taste is really lovely - tangy and sour and complex due to the mixture of flours - white, wholemeal and rye, used in the dough. I am perfectly happy to eat my way through this one in the quest for a perfect looking loaf. The texture is what I am coming to expect from my homemade sourdough - chewy and reasonably close, with an excellent crunchy, chewy crust. I guess that sourdough should have bigger holes, but next time, next time.....

Edited to add: I'm reliably informed (by Joanna) that this shape of bread is called a 'miche'. So I've managed to create a sought after shape without even trying ;-) And as I've been eating this loaf, it has really grown on me. The crust is absolutely lovely, and the crumb is lovely and dense and chewy - in a good way! and the flavour is really quite sour and complex. I'll be really sorry when it is all finished. Definitely worth another go.


Chele said...

Delicious flying saucers are still a success in my book ;0)
You really are putting me to shame, must get the sourdough starter out from the back of the fridge!

The Caked Crusader said...

I do admire your breadmaking. I have to be honest - bread fanatic that I am - this does not look like a disaster to me! Yum!

Joanna @ Zeb Bakes said...

I think this shape is called a miche and is very desirable. I haven't made the Mill Loaf for a while, I remember it as being a very substantial loaf and quite a sour 'sourdough' flavour, chewy, in fact a lot like yours! Lovely!

Choclette said...

Where's the disaster? This looks fantastic. I suppose you wouldn't want to try making it in a tin - not such a pretty shape, but it does stop the dough changing shape.

Maggie said...

I would happily eat my way through your sourdough loaf too.
Found you thru googleing cranberry recipes.
Off to bake your choccy cranberry muffins now.

Caroline said...

Chele - give it a go, after all not everything has to be perfect first time - you can see mine aren't!

CC - thankyou!

Joanna - you've described my loaf perfectly - quite sour, hefty crust and crumb, just lovely!!!

Choclette - thankyou! I did try a tin for the last sourdough I did so I wanted to branch out and try one that kept it's own shape this time. It does taste great!

Maggie - thank you for leaving a comment. I hope you like the choc cranberry muffins and thank you for following!


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