I have been baking bread for so long it is difficult to remember which bread recipe really got me hooked on baking bread. However, I am sure this la Miche bread recipe would be one such candidate recipe. It really is one of my favourite breads to make, to eat and to serve to my family and friends. Why is this so? Primarily because its is really delicious, but also because it is a whole wheat nutritious bread and one of the easiest artisan bread recipes that I regularly make.
If I were a bakery this La Miche bread could well be my “Housebread”.
Now, enough of my praise for this beautiful bread lets me tell you a little bit more about the bread and the recipe.
La Miche is a traditional whole wheat french bread and the name ” la Miche” literally means a “large round loaf”. This french bread is typically made from dough that is predominantly whole wheat with a mix of other flours in proportions that vary both regionally and from bakery to bakery. In this version here, I use regular organic whole wheat flour with a little white strong bread flour (such as 550 flour if you are in Germany). The addition of the white bread flour helps to lift the bread and create a nice soft crumb that is not as dense as 100% whole wheat bread.
The la miche bread is made with both a sourdough starter and yeast. Why both sourdough AND yeast? Simply because the sourdough starter brings flavor and leavening but since this bread recipe uses wheat flour (as apposed to rye or spelt flour) the addition of yeast helps to create a better structure with the wheat flour bread dough. Another advantage of including yeast is that the dough fermentation time is shorter and you can easily bake this lovely bread within 5 hours.
Here is a sample baking schedule showing you how I make this miche bread recipe on a work day;
At 7.00;before you leave for work in the morning make the dough, cover and refrigerate it for the bulk fermentation. The dough can sit in the fridge until you are home again in the evening.
At ~18.00; shape the dough, start the final proof.
At ~19.00; bake
At ~20.00; your bread is finished!! cool for at least 2 hours, or just leave it out on a wire rack overnight.
An alternative, equally convenient schedule, that is great for non-work days, would be to bulk ferment overnight in the fridge and then bake the following morning.
La miche bread recipe
Ingredients to make 1 large round loaf.
100g wheat sour dough starter (taken directly from the fridge).
575g organic wholewheat flour
200g wheat flour 550
20g fresh yeast
extra ~70g wholewheat flour (caution, add at the end of the mix)
- Combine all the ingredients apart from the extra flour either by hand in a large bowl, or using the lowest speed setting and the dough hook of your electric mixer. The dough mix at this stage will be very wet, but thats OK because the wholewheat flour needs to be well hydrated. Mix and knead the dough in the bowl (by hand or mixer) for about 5-6 minutes until some elasticity is developed.
- Since this dough is going to be baked as a large boule it needs to be able to hold its shape and rise up, and not spread out, so you now need to add more flour to create a robust dough that can be formed into a tight ball. Add the extra 70g of flour and more if the dough is still too wet. Mix well.
- Now you should have an easy to manage dough, turn it out onto your work surface and knead it for 3-5 minutes. Include some big stretch and folds to really strengthen the dough. (See my bread baking tips for info on kneading.)
- Form your dough into a tight ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1.5 hours at room temperature or refrigerate and allow to slow ferment for ~8-10 hours, for example, while you sleep or work.
- After the bulk fermentation your dough should have at least
doubled, even tripled in size. Turn it out onto a floured work surface. Fully deflate the dough by flattening it out and folding it in on itself, repeat flattening and folding twice more, re-flour you work surface if the dough is sticking, in this case a little more flour kneaded in to the dough is not a problem.
- Take approximately 1/4 of the dough and form a small dough ball. Dust this dough ball in flour and place this small ball into the centre of your prooving basket.
- Then form the rest of the dough into a large ball, dust also with flour and place it on top of the small ball in the basket. (note, if the dough balls are not dusted with flour they will merge in the fermentation and you wont get that lovely split effect in the final loaf). Make sure there is space in your basket for the dough to rise well, the dough should not fill more that 2/3rds of the basket. (if needed remove some of the dough, form into rolls and bake seperately, no need to waste any!).
- Leave to rise again at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Preheat your oven and baking stone , if using one, to 250 degrees and place a roasting on the floor of the oven.
- When your dough is
ready to bake, fill the roasting tray with water to fill your hot oven with steam. Carefully turn out the dough onto a floured baking sheet or bakers peel and transfer into the oven, either directly onto a hot baking stone of baking tray and bake hot for 10 mins. Then turn down the oven to 190 degrees and bake for a further 60-70 minutes, until deeply browned.
- Leave to completely cool on a wire rack before slicing
I hope you enjoy my la miche bread recipe, and that you can see how easy it really is to make this beautiful la miche bread at home