Country miche taste test … take two

Crumb closeup of CM Type 85 and KF High-X

Crumb closeup: CM Type 85 is on the left

After my first miche test taste, there were a few loose ends. I wanted to add Central Milling Type 85 Malted to the contestants, and I wanted to try a smaller loaf after Michael London’s advice for baking in dutch ovens.

Central Milling is in Utah, with a major distribution center in Petaluma, CA. It’s very popular among west coast artisan bakers who can’t get King Arthur easily. (In general King Arthur seems to be an “east coast” flour and I’m fortunate to have their distributor in my own town of Saratoga Springs, NY.) Type 85 Malted is the choice for high-extraction miches and I left it out of my previous test only because they were in the middle of a packaging changeover and the product wasn’t available.

But this week my Type 85 arrived and it was back to the oven. I followed exactly the formula as previously except I reduced all measurements by 25%. (This is why you want to cook by weight, not volume!) Prep steps were the same except this bread got a slightly longer final rise, but at a cooler temperature than my previous bake so I think it balances out.

Miche Taste Test, Take Two

I baked smaller loaves (approx. 3 lbs each) that better fit the 5-qt dutch oven

You can see the results here. The loaves are a little better risen than the 2 kg miches with a nice even crust… I’ll use this ¾ formula from now on in my dutch oven miche bakes. You can also see that one loaf has a darker crumb than the other… that’s the King Arthur. We had no such difference in the first test so I’ll assume the Central Milling has less ash content than the King Arthur flours I used.

Cindy Corbett helped me taste again, and I expanded the inquisition to a number of friends and family members. These breads were very, very good. Moist, tender and wheaty with a wonderful aroma. Cindy’s first word was “mild!” The longer rise perhaps spread out the flavor molecules that were more intense the first time around.

Second miche sliced

Nice rise, nice open crumb

On closer tasting the King Arthur High-X had a very subtle undertaste that I’ll call chalky or minerally—I assume it’s the ash*. It made me prefer the Central Milling, but that was under the kind of back and forth tasting of bare bread that you’d never do in everyday use. With butter and slightly toasted, both loaves were as good as bread can be.

Thanks to Victoria Brooks and Nicky Giusto at Central Milling, and Allison Furbish at KAF, for facilitating this test. Thanks again to my technical expert Martin Philip and tasters Michael London and Cindy Corbett—and also to my local posse of “breadies” (you know who you are) for your opinions.

* Raymond Calvel confirms this, in his expensive but widely praised The Taste of Bread:  “At a higher extraction rate (from 83% to 85%), the flour produced will be grayish, and the taste will change. To a greater or lesser degree (depending on the rate of extraction and other characteristics of the grain), it will take on the flavor of the bran envelopes, with an aftertaste of ash.”
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