In my initial efforts at the Tartine Country loaf I mostly followed Robertson's process except that I used a cloche instead of the cast iron cooker. In my first attempt I found the 77 percent hydration dough a bit and troublesome. Ditto my second effort at 75 percent. For this third effort I decided to blend the Tartine method with my own and to drop the hydration to 70 percent. I am sharing my observations in hope that some of you on the site will find them useful.
My first comment has to involve the hand mixing. After years of avoiding hand mixing as messy, the Tartine book pushed my over the edge and I know prefer hand mixing. There is magic in feeling the dough change character as you add the final water and salt. And, while the initial mix remains messy it is amazing how well the dough behaves after the first few turns and how well developed the dough becomes using the multiple stretch and fold processes endorsed by Robertson.
My SD starter is not very sour so I feel no need to use the high expansion ratio used at Tartine. I began with 100 grams of 100% starter and added 100 grams of WW and 100 grams of KA AP and 200 grams of water and let it sit on the counter overnight. Next morning I added 150 grams of WW, 1070 of KA AP, and 780 of water. From there I did S&F every half hour for two hours. I formed the boules at 2 1/2 hours and gave them a half hour rest. Then final forming and into bannetons. At 70% the dough at forming was very well behaved and only minimally sticky. I began baking them in cloches three hours after placing them in the bannetons in two batches so two loaves are more underproofed.
Due to sticking issues with alder in previous Tartine batches I had decided to try both alder and plastic bannetons. With the drier dough, neither presented any sticking problems. They did, however yield somewhat different looking results as shown in the photographs. I heated the cloches to 500 degrees F and measured the temperture of the cloches at 485 to 495 with my infrared thermometer. Baking time was 20 minutes with the lid on and 25 minutes uncovered at 450 degrees. The lids were held in a second oven at 500 during the uncovered baking and the bases were recharged at 500 before baking the second set of loaves.
The four loaves. The two on the left were done in alder bannetons, the ones on the right in plastic. The loaves on the left received about one hour less proofing than the ones on the right. The underproofing is visible in the oven spring.
The plastic bannetons require (and hold) less flour so the loaves are darker.
The alder bannetons hold more flour and yield a more dramatic effect. The impact of underproofing on oven spring is clearly evident.
Three of the loaves were used at a party. I hope to get a crumb shot of the fourth to share in a later email. The crumb was significantly less open than the 77 and 75 percent hydration loaves. However, the crumb was certainly not "dense". All in all a very pleasing result.
Here is the belated crumb shot!