It’s been three years now since we started baking the marvelous Country Miche at the Bakehouse. It was good right off the bat, and it continues to get a bit better with each passing month.
The Miche is a near-perfect manifestation of French food writer Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat’s statement in History of Food, that “Really good bread makes you feel happy just to smell it, look at it, bite, chew and swallow it.”
The Country Miche was one of the breads that debuted after we began the wonderful work to mill our own grain at the Bakehouse. It’s a blend of four: high extraction hard red spring wheat grown and milled by Bill Koucky in the Leelanau peninsula, organic spelt from neighboring states, organic buckwheat from Natural Way mills, and organic rye from Hampshire Farms—the latter three of which are all freshly milled right here at the Bakehouse. The quartet come together to make for a complex, compelling set of flavors.
As nutritionist Karen Ansel explains: “Fresh-milled whole grain flour provides the goodness of all the parts of the grain, so it contains superior levels of fiber, magnesium, selenium, vitamin E, and phytonutrients.” Commercially milled flour can lose nearly 90% of its nutrients within three or four days of milling. By milling heirloom grains on-site, we have the chance to put all those natural nutrients into the bread. Both the bread and those of us who eat it benefit big time. Hazim Tugun, from the Bakehouse shared:
It’s a bread that is really alive with the grains, or maybe speaks for the grains. It’s beautiful, a sight to take in, and I love the aromas of the different grains, the sweet wheaty tones laced with the floral, grassy qualities of the buckwheat. It’s got just enough of a tang to really pop the multitude of flavors coming through—nutty, wheaty, maybe a touch earthy and spicy.
The Bakehouse’s Country Miche is so exceptionally marvelous it would be wholly at home in a top-notch French country bakery circa 1880. The Miche is old school all the way. Nice big (both 2- and 1-kilo) loaves with a dark crust (which is so much more flavorful than light crusts—ask any traditional baker and every one of them will tell you that they always choose dark crusted breads). Beautiful chestnut-colored crumb with big holes (which artisan bakers are always working to make happen) with lovely flecks of bran. The aroma is lively, slightly sour, substantial but not strong, sturdy, and comforting. The bread’s flavor is big, almost meaty, very wheaty, complex and fascinatingly full. I love it simply as is, toasted with great olive oil. Perfect for sandwiches. Being naturally leavened (nearly 20 hours of rise time), the Country Miche stays marvelously moist for days. You can buy a quarter loaf, a half loaf or a whole loaf—I have most of the latter sitting on my counter right now. All of which also makes it perfect for Mail Order shipping or for taking to cottages or on cross-country drives.
To say that this has been a challenging year would clearly be an understatement on most any level. But as Cervantes once said, “All sorrows are less with bread.”
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