Pain Meunier Celebrates Wheat's Journey Into Bread

This miller's bread is shaped to appear like a kernel of wheat and was developed to honor the link among farmers, millers and bakers.

by Didier Rosada

Pain meunier, or miller's bread, was developed to honor the precious and almost sacred connection that exists among farmers who produce the wheat, millers who grind it into flour and and the bakers who transform the flour into bread.  The formula's ingredients include all parts of a wheat kernel: endosperm, bran and germ.  When made properly, this bread offers a nice culmination of all of the different flavors found on a wheat kernel. Miller's bread is shaped with a crease in the center to resemble a kernel of wheat.  To allow for slow fermentation no commercial yeast is used in the final dough.  This leads to good aroma production and increases dough strength.

The dough is prepared using a preferment. The addition of preferment increases the final product's shelf life and gives a light acidity to the loaf that adds to the flavor complexity.

Prepare preferment

In a mixing bowl, combine the preferment ingredients.  Adjust the mixing times and speeds to obtain a good blend of all ingredients without much gluten development.  After mixing, transfer the preferment to a plastic holding tub and allow it to ferment for four hours at room temperature.  It also may be fermented at room temperature for one hour, then refrigerated at 40F for 10 to 24 hours.

Another option is to use baguette dough hat has been fermented in the same manner as the preferment.  In this case, you do not need to mix the preferment before the final mix.

Return the preferment to the mixer and add the final dough.  Soak the cracked wheat in water for two hours before adding to the dough.  The amount of water will vary based on the coarseness of the wheat.  The goal is to use enough water to soften the wheat without having any left oven that can affect dough consistency.

Mix final dough

To mix the final dough, incorporate flour, whole-wheat flour, malt, water, preferment and wheat germ at first speed for three to four minutes, or  until the dough is medium soft.  Then, add the salt.  Mix at second speed until the dough begins to get smooth.

This is a procedure we refer to as an "improved mix".  The goal is to achieve a lightly developed gluten structure. It is important not to fully develop the dough in this method.  If you know the rotations-per-minute of your particular mixer, adjust the mix time at second speed to the equivalent of 1000 rotations of the dough hook.

Next, add the cracked wheat, and mix at first speed until well incorporated. The desired dough temperature is 76F to 77F. Transfer the dough to a plastic holding tub and allow it to ferment at room temperature for two hours.  If needed, fold the dough after 45 minutes.

After fermentation, place the dough onto a floured surface.  Cut the dough into 18-oz.(500g) pieces.  For rolls, divide the dough into smaller 4-0z. (120g) pieces.  The dividing can be done by hand or with a dough divider.

Shape and indent loaves

Shape dough into batards.  Use a thin rolling pin to indent the dough down the center of the batard.

Fold on side of the loaf onto the indention and flip it over, so the indention is no the bottom for proofing.

Shape the dough into light balls and allow them to rest for 20 to 25 minutes.  After resting, shape the balls into short batards.  Let them rest for 15 more  minutes.  Then, dust the pieces of dough, and use a thin rolling pin to create an indentation lengthwise on the top of the batards.

Fold one side of the loaf in the indentation.  Then, roll the dough over, so it is upside down.  Proof the dough on dusted linen at room temperature for about 1 to 1 hours.  Be careful to not let the dough overproof.

To bake the loaves, turn the loaves so the indention is on top, and place them on a peel or loader.  Place the loaves on the hearth of a 470F deck oven, and steam.   Bake the loaves for 30 minutes with the oven door closed. Open the door slightly, and bake the bread for an additional 15 minutes. Cool the loaves on a rack.

Offer pain meunier during the summer months to celebrate the wheat harvest.  Due to its unique wheat kernel shape, this bread makes for a wonderful display in front windows or on a table in your bakery.  When offered as rolls, merchandise them so customers will see the dramatic affect the rolls will add  at dinner tables.  Also, educate health-conscious customers on the higher nutritional value of this bread.

PAIN MEUNIER

Preferment

Ingredients Baker's % Metric Lbs. Ozs.
Flour 100 10.68 kg 23 8.6
Water 65 6.94 kg 15 4.8
Yeast (fresh) 1.5 160 g   5.6
Salt 2 210 g   7.4

Total appr. wt.

  18 kg 39 10
Instructions: Prepare according to article. Transfer to a plastic holding tub and ferment for four hours at room temperature.

Final Dough

Ingredients Baker's % Metric Lbs. Ozs.
Flour 90 9 kg 19 13.5
Whole wheat flour 10 1 kg 2 3.3
Water 69 6.9 kg 15 3.4
Salt 2.5 250 g   8.8
Malt 1 100 g   3.5
Wheat Germ 5 500 g 1 1.6
Cracked wheat 25 2.5 kg 5 8
Preferment 180 18 kg 39 10
Total appr. wt.   38.25 kg 84 4.1
Instructions: Prepare and shape dough according to article. Proof the dough, indention-side down for 1 to 1 hours.  Turn loaves over. Place on hearth of 470F deck oven and steam.  Bake dough for 30 minutes with the door closed.  Open the door slightly, and bake for another 15 minutes.  Cool on a rack.  this formula yields 75 18-oz. (500g) loaves.