miche à l’épeautre

This must be my most successful miche to date. There are so many recipes inspired by a pain poilâne it’s hard to keep track of. Jeffrey Hamelman has one in his book BREAD, Peter Reinhart has one in his book Bread Baker’s Apprentice and in my most recent book I’ve seen a version from Daniel Leader in “local breads“. I wasn’t really looking for another miche style French levain bread but wanted to try out different techniques I’ve found at The Fresh Loaf on how to get moure sour out of your sourdough.

A slice of miche, smells unbelievably good!

So while I was at it, why not try something new? This is an adapted version from Leader’s pain au levain complet. I noticed I still had a bag of spelt flour unopened I wanted to try. (épautre is French for spelt).

I’ve learned the following things on how to “improve” the sourness level of your sourdough bread:

  • Use a stiff levain – it builds up slower and develops more acids that way.
  • Ferment longer – quite obvious, right? I never fermented longer than 2 hours (bulk), so this was relatively new for me
  • Use a levain with wholegrain – it has a higher ash content and will act as a buffer for the lactic acids before they break down the yeast or gluten.
  • Retard your dough in the fridge for 12 to up to 24 hours.

The Recipe


  • 50gr starter, I used my “loose” rye starter (60-70% hydration, not sure but does not matter)
  • 50gr stone-ground organic wholewheat flour
  • 50gr spelt flour (this is not wholegrain)
  • 75gr water
I’ve let it ferment for 12 hours.
Stretch & folding helps to build structure
The stiff starter looks a bit more wet now
After Folding the dough
Final dough
  • 400gr organic stone-ground wholewheat flour
  • 100gr spelt flour
  • your starter (125gr total, I think)
  • 375gr water

Time table:

  1. autolyse 30 minutes
  2. kneading using the french fold technique for about 15 minutes (a little longer than usual! This makes sure we get evenly distributed holes)
  3. Bulk fermenting for 4 hours with 3 stretch & folds, more could be needed for your flour, that’s OK. It was at room temp, at that time 23°C.
  4. Retard for 12 hours in the fridge at 5°C.

I baked it straight from the fridge, called a “cold bake”, with some steam injected into the oven. It is actually not really needed to slash this boule, as wholewheat does not get a huge oven spring anyway and you might want to decorate your loaf with some flour.

This is the wholewheat flour I’ve used


A closer look at the interior, look how dark and holey it is!

A closer look at the interior, look how dark and holey it is!The flour is locally milled and simply amazing – you can stretch it a lot without tearing (see the pictures!), it’s very very finely ground, it’s local and it’s cheap (and of course stone-ground, meaning no single bran left out and I did not sift anything). I did not want to use another “T85” kind of flour (85% extraction, meaning 15% bran sifted out). I simply love it this way.

Let’s see, what’s great about this bread?
  1. It’s healthy: wholegrains > white bread!
  2. It’s extremely tasty, with just the right amount of sourness. It may be a bit too much for some, but I like it that way. As you may now, I’ve been searching on how to get more sour for my daily recipe – I might have found an improved version!
  3. The “holes” in the bread are more dense but that’s exactly what we want here, no jam falling out!

I’ve learned a lot baking this bread and it’s simply delicious. I’m baking this thing again, that’s for sure!

3 thoughts on “miche à l’épeautre”

  1. Hi

    I came to your blog by way of TFL – I found your post on sourdough of great interest.

    I’ve dabbled with sourdough on and off many times, but I’ve never found the increase in flavour, using wholemeal, to be worth the hassle. Your methods to increase the sourness of wholemeal sourdough have made me wonder if I shouldn’t have another go.

    I use Dove’s organic wholemeal, hear in the UK, and find it a very tasty flour. My bread, made using the overnight method, is full of flavour – but I am interested in improving it, of course.

    I’ll have a look around your site, and give it some thought. I’ll keep you updated if I do have another go. (I wonder if my starter – left untouched in the fridge for the past few months – still works?)

    Best regards, Paul

    Ps. I looked around for your name, but couldn’t find one – apologies for just a ‘Hi’!

    1. Hi Paul,

      My apologies I still have to create an “about” page 🙂 Thanks for liking the posts! I hope everything has been cleared out a bit – if not, don’t hesitate to ask.
      I leave my starter in the fridge when I’m not baking, and I refersh it 12 hours before to create the preferment. I am sure your starter is not dead at all but the bacteria and yeast cells will go in “dormant” mode if not fed enough on time. This means you’ll have to refresh it twice or so before attempting to use it to bake bread again. This will bring it to it’s full glory, I’m sure it’ll succeed.
      Retarding the dough can also be done for up to 24 hours, I’ve made a second batch on which I had to leave for work early in the morning and I was unable to bake them after 12 hours. They still turned out to be fine! I still have to compare both versions but I don’t think there’s a huge difference.

      If your Dove wholemeal is finely ground it will do just fine. Take a look at the stretch & fold picture: if you can do something like that with this amount of wholegrain present in the dough, you’re good!
      Please post some pictures of the bread you’ve baked with it! 🙂


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