Miche, Pointe-à-callière

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Dough Yield: About

    7

    loaves at 5 lb each

Appears in

Bread

By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

I Originally Tasted this Remarkable Bread from the hands of bread-master James MacGuire of Montreal. James developed this bread as an authentic rendition of the type of bread typically eaten by the early European settlers of Canada (Pointe à Callière was the site of Montreal’s original settlement, on the banks of the St. Lawrence River). I offer it here with very slight modification. The dough is soft, and is meant to be. The baked loaves are large, somewhat flat in appearance, with large interior air holes, a chewy crumb, and an excellent keeping quality (I find the flavor to be most irresistible about 3 days after the bake). I use a high-extraction wheat flour with an ash content of about .92 percent. Some of the bran and germ have been removed before milling, and in the bag the flour looks like a light whole wheat. (Extraction is a term that denotes the degree of milling. If all the bran and germ are removed, about 75 percent of the wheat berry remains, and when it is ground into white flour, that flour is considered 75 percent extraction.) If high-extraction flour is unavailable, the flour proportions in this formula can be changed: Use a blend of 60 to 90 percent complete whole-wheat flour (that is, 100 percent extraction), depending upon the comparative lightness desired in the bread, and for the remaining portion use white bread flour.

Pre-Fermented Flour: 20%

Ingredients

Overall Formula

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
High-Extraction Wheat Flour 20 lb 10 kg 2 lb 100 %
Water 16.4 lb 8.2 kg 1 lb, 10.2 oz 82 %
Salt .36 lb .18 kg .6 oz 1.8 %
Total Yield 36.76 lb 18.38 kg 3 lb, 10.8 oz 183.8 %

Levain Build

High-Extraction Wheat Flour 4 lb 2 kg 6.4 oz ( cups) 100 %
Water 2.4 lb 1.2 kg 3.8 oz (½ cup) 60 %
Mature Culture (Stiff) .8 lb .4 kg 1.3 oz (3 T) 20 %
Total 7.2 lb 3.6 kg 11.5 oz

Final Dough

High-Extraction Wheat Flour 16 lb 8 kg 1 lb, 9.6 oz ( cups)
Water 14 lb 7 kg 1 lb, 6.4 oz ( cups)
Salt .36 lb .18 kg .6 oz (1 T)
Levain 6.4 lb 3.2 kg 10.2 oz (all less 3 T)
Total 36.76 lb 18.38 kg 3 lb, 10.8 oz

Method

  1. Stiff-Textured Levain: Make the final build approximately 12 hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at about 70°F. During hot weather, or if the levain will ripen for longer than 12 hours, the flour in the levain build can be salted at 1.8 percent to slow its activity.
  2. Mixing: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl except the salt and the levain. In a spiral mixer, mix on first speed just until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass. Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for an autolyse phase of 20 to 60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough, cut the levain into fist-sized chunks and place them on top of the dough, and finish mixing on second speed for 2 to 2½ minutes. The dough will be quite loose, and the gluten network should be only moderately developed. Desired dough temperature: 76°F.
  3. Bulk Fermentation: 2½ hours.
  4. Folding: Fold the dough twice, at 50-minute intervals. Use the folds as a last opportunity to bring strength to the dough. Because of the wet nature of the dough, be sure to have ample dusting flour on the work surface when the dough is turned out for folding and dividing. If the bread has been mixed in a small stand mixer, a third fold may be necessary to help maximize dough strength. In that case, fold at 40-minute intervals.
  5. Dividing and Shaping: Scale the dough pieces at 5 pounds each. Lightly preshape, allow the dough to relax, and give it a gentle final rounding. Place the loaves, seams up, on well-floured baker’s linen or proofing baskets. Having the seams up during the final proofing encourages the loaves to have a low profile after the bake, a characteristic of this bread. After shaping, the loaves should be covered to prevent crusting from air currents. Due to the wet nature of the dough, however, it is best if nothing touches the exposed side. In the professional bakery, leaving the bread on a rack with a vinyl cover works best. At home, covering the loaf with a large bowl or even a cardboard box will do nicely.
  6. Final Fermentation: Approximately 2 to 2½ hours at 76°F. This bread does not favor overnight fermentation.
  7. Baking: With normal steam, 440°F for about 60 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 420°F after 15 minutes. Due to the high water content, the bread requires a long and full bake. Cool thoroughly on racks, wrap in baker’s linen, and let the bread’s flavors meld for at least 12 hours before slicing. It is a great joy to see the eating quality of this bread transform over the course of several days—the flour’s wheat flavor intensifies and the bread’s acidity increases slightly as the loaf ages.