Rye Miche, from Runner & Stone
- 1 bag Rye Miche Flour Blend
- 420g room-temperature water
- 20g sourdough starter or non-Greek yogurt
- 9g salt
- 3g Active Dry yeast (only if using yogurt)
This recipe yields 1 2lb miche.
Time is 16-18 hours total, including 25 minutes active work and 35-40 minutes baking.
- Mix the preferment as follows:
- 80g Unified Mills Rye Miche Flour Blend
- 80g room temperature water
- 20g sourdough starter or non-Greek yogurt (If yogurt, you will add yeast in the “Mix the Dough” step.)
- Loosely cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave in warm place for 12 hours. (At night before bed works great.)
The point of this step is to kickstart the fermentation process, which enhances flavor, leavening, and the bread’s shelf-life. At the end of the 12-hour period, your preferment should smell a little sour and have some bubbles on the surface.
In baking bread, water temperature is not a fixed variable, but rather depends on other factors.
All things being equal, water should be room temperature.
Make it warmer….
- to offset a cold room.
- to speed up a step if you are in a rush.
Make it cooler…..
- To offset a hot room.
- To slow down a step if you need more time.
Sourdough starter vs. yogurt/yeast combo:
Using sourdough starter, also called “levain,” will give your bread a more open crumb, and a more complex, deep and subtle sour taste. Breads made with only commercial yeast tend to have smaller air bubbles with a translucent, gauzy texture. Using yogurt, followed by packaged, commercial yeast in the next step, can give the bread a bit of that sour quality that you won’t get from the commercial yeast alone. Our recipe calls for yogurt that still has water content, rather than Greek yogurt, which has been strained.
If you have sourdough starter, and it’s active and ready to go in time for the preferment step, use it! If it’s not active, you can bring it back to life by feeding it for a few days until it’s bubbly, jiggly, and makes tiny popping bubble sounds when you stir it. You can use any type of sourdough starter. Experiment! The choice will result in different flavors. Runner & Stone uses a white flour sourdough starter for a lower bacteria content, more mild flavor, and a stronger dough. Using a whole grain starter will give you a deeper, more earthy flavor, and a softer dough.
2) MIX THE DOUGH
- Add the following to the preferment:
- Remaining Unified Mills Rye Miche Flour Blend
- 340g room temperature water
- 9g salt
- If you used yogurt in the Preferment step, now add 4g active dry yeast
- Mix together to form a homogenous, wet dough.
Perhaps the most important concept in the mixing step is called “Hydration.” Hydration is the total amount of water in a recipe as a percentage of the total amount of flour. The higher hydration, the more complex and delicious the dough, because water activates the proteins that form gluten. But there’s a trade-off: higher hydration also means a more difficult dough to handle. Hydration needs to be higher when working with whole grains like the ones in Unified Mills flour blends, because the bran in the flour absorbs more water. Adding more water compensates for that, allowing the gluten to develop and resulting in a more stretchy, open crumb (bigger air bubbles). Some breads go as high as 110% hydration – focaccia and ciabatta for instance. That’s why they’re yummy but also why the dough is so difficult to handle. The hydration for Unified Mills Rye Miche and Buckwheat Baguette flour blends is 73%. The gluten in rye and einkorn behaves a bit differently; higher hydration makes these doughs wet, sticky and a bit difficult to handle. Using them with other flours like spelt and sifted wheat definitely help with that though!
3) BULK FERMENT
- Scrape into a lightly oiled bowl and let sit to bulk ferment, loosely covered, in an average-temperature room.
- If using yogurt and yeast combination, let sit for one hour.
- If using sourdough starter, let sit for two hours.
- Stretch each side of the dough up and fold over the rest of the dough in turn. Let sit for another hour. Repeat once more, for a total of two stretch & folds.
- You’ll know the dough is ready when it’s got air bubbles. It should have at least doubled in size, and should feel airy and pillowy.
This first rise, when your dough ferments in a single large mass, is when the yeast gets to work eating the sugars, multiplying, and producing gas. The dough starts getting fluffy and light, and the initial air bubbles, the ones that will appear in your final loaf, are forming.
During this first rise room temperature is very important. If the room is too warm the dough risks over-fermenting, which means the structure could break down and lead to a flatter bread. But if the room is too cold, fermentation will be much slower. You can provide warmth in a cold room by putting the dough in a turned-off oven with just the oven light on and the oven door closed.
Some bakers choose to “cold bulk” or “cold ferment,” which means putting your dough in the refrigerator, usually overnight. Cold bulk leads to more flavor, because cold temperatures produce bacteria which increases souring. Warmer temperatures encourage yeast activity which results in a cleaner, lighter flavor – as long as you don’t let the dough ferment for too long. So you can use temperature to change flavor: Warmer and faster gives a lighter, more mild flavor. Colder and slower gives a stronger, more sour flavor. The decision comes down to personal preference and practical concerns, like if you’re running late and need to slow down the process until you have time to come back to it. A dough can even stay in the fridge for 3 or 4 days! It probably won’t rise as much, but it’ll taste incredible. There is no one right way to bake. It’s about experimentation, fitting it into your lifestyle and schedule, and making the recipe yours.
Stretch & Folds:
Stretch & folds help reinforce and strengthen the gluten network in a less aggressive fashion than kneading. It takes longer, but since it’s gentler, it preserves the air bubbles and adds strength to the dough without over oxidizing, thereby maximizing flavor and texture.
The number of stretch and folds varies but our recipe calls for two sets, an hour apart. You want the dough to be strong enough to trap air bubbles but not too strong that it won’t expand in the oven. If after two sets of S&Fs the dough hasn’t smoothed out and come together in the bowl, you can do another set of S&Fs.
4) SHAPE AND PROOF
Our flour blends can be made into any shape, as long as the necessary recipe adjustments are made. The basic bread shapes are nearly all from France:
- Miche: A large, dense, somewhat flat and free-form French country sourdough. This rustic loaf was historically meant to feed lots of people, last many days, and work easily with a variety of whole grain flours. The ultimate unfussy loaf!
- Boule: The boule, which is French for “ball,” became popular in the 19th century for its aesthetically pleasing round shape and crusty exterior, and for how easy it is to slice and share.
- Batard: This full, oval-shaped French loaf dates back to the 1800s and means hybrid, because it’s a cross between a baguette and a boule. Its larger shape allows for max crumb and crust wow factor. Because it’s more elongated than the boule, it is generally easier to carry, quicker to bake, and easier to slice for sandwiches.
- Baguette: This long, slender loaf became a symbol for the bustling urban lifestyle in 19th-century Paris, thanks to its quick baking and easy carrying, and perhaps most importantly, the invention of steam-injected ovens. Its popularity grew even more when labor laws were enacted in the early 1900s, restricting bakers’ working hours to just 10 hours (!), forcing bakers to find new ways to make lots of bread fast – baguettes, with their shorter fermentation and baking times, perfectly fit the bill.
- Pullman - The ultimate sandwich loaf! Made in a bread pan, this loaf gets its name from the Pullman Company, an American railroad company that served slices of this bread to its high-paying customers in sleeper cars in the 1900s. The loaves were baked to fit perfectly in the rectangular Pullman bread pans, making them uniformly shaped and easier to store, transport and serve in the confined train car space.
Once the dough is shaped it needs to proof – that final rise before going into the oven. During proofing, the bacterias, yeast and gluten are doing their last bit of work developing flavor, air pockets and structure in the dough. Be careful not to overproof; once that enzymatic activity ends and the sugars have all been eaten, the bubbles will burst and the dough will collapse. If you don’t have time to wait for the proof to finish and bread to bake, just put the dough in the refrigerator for a “cold proof,” for up to 12 hours. Cold-proofing will intensify the bread’s flavor while retarding the yeast fermentation – saving that last dough expansion for optimal “oven spring.” Cold proofing is especially good for a miche or a boule because the dough’s shape is held in the bowl or banneton. (To cold-proof baguettes it’s best to have a baguette-shaped vessel.)
The poke test is the best way to know proofing is complete. The indent should hold for at least 15 seconds, which means the dough still has some expansion potential for a nice “oven spring.” Baguettes that proof for too long become over-inflated and risk becoming deformed when moved.
5) SCORE AND BAKE
- Preheat your oven to 450°F (with an optional vessel like a baking stone or Dutch oven).
- Once preheated, turn the miche out onto the baking surface (stone, baking pan, Dutch oven, etc.) so that it is right side up again. Cut a plus sign or a pound sign on the top surface of the boule with a razor blade or sharp knife.
- Bake your loaf for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. (If using a Dutch oven, remove the lid after 20 minutes and lower the temperature to 425°F.) If you wish to add steam for a crispier crust, put an uncovered, oven-safe pan filled with an inch or so of water next to the bread. The dough may expand in the first few minutes of baking, although if you don’t see this “oven spring,” don’t panic – the bread will still be delicious.
- Test for doneness by tapping the bottom of the loaf - it should sound hollow. When done, cool on a cooling rack completely before enjoying. We love it our rye miche with salted butter and apricot jam.
Dough expands rapidly in the first few minutes of baking. That “oven spring” is a result of the heat, which causes:
- the gas bubbles inside the dough to expand.
- the yeast to become more active, leading to more gas bubbles. (As long as there is enough gluten elasticity to allow for that stretch.)
- the moisture in the dough to convert to steam, which lifts the bread as it rises out of it.
Oven spring is elusive with certain grains like einkorn and rye because those grains have less gluten potential, and therefore weaker structure and elasticity.
Scoring lets you decide where that expansion happens. When the dough expands dramatically, it causes the edge of the scoring marks to peel back into what are called “ears” - those perfectly crisped flaps of crust that snap off like delicate crackers in your hand.
Creating steam in your home oven is optional, but can be great for the bread. You want to create it in the first half of the bake, to prevent the crust from fully setting right away and becoming a hard shell that stops expansion. The longer the crust is delayed, the thinner and crispier it gets. Steam keeps the exterior moist, which allows for more expansion and increases the chances for those coveted “ears.” Steam is especially great for baguettes, since they have more surface area and therefore dry out faster. Steam also gives your bread a subtle shine, and a deeper crust color and flavor, as it aids in the caramelization of the bread’s surface.
There are lots of ways to create steam: you can throw some ice cubes in the bottom of the oven; you can put some lava rocks in a pan and fill it with water; you can put a pan in the oven while it preheats, then fill the pan with water when you put the bread in. Just use caution, as steam can burn.
Don’t use these methods if you’re baking in a Dutch Oven or similar vessel. Dutch Ovens can also hold steam in, and have the added benefit of increased steam pressure, which lifts the bread. (Bread often sinks a bit when it comes out of the oven and that steam pressure goes away.) Just start with the lid on, and remove the lid about halfway through the bake.