I received my copy of the new "Tartine Bread Book" last week, flipping through the book, I was struck by two things: 1. I want Chad Robertson's life (especially the part about living in the French hills with artisan bakers/cheese makers/farmers, living and doing what he loves along the coastline of beautiful Northern CA, oh yeah, let's not forget the part where he and his friend surf in the morning and bake in the afternoon!); 2. I have been making those 36 hour sourdough baguettes with high hydration, no kneading but S&F, long fermentation, and Chad Roberton's method is very similar in these aspects.
I made his basic country loaf this past weekend with great result. The formula and procedure have been well documented in detail here, and the following are my "study notes":
1. He is after a bread with balanced flavor without too much sourness (I guess his French study is showing), so he ues a levain (a.k.a. sourdough preferment, sourdough poolish) that's very young. In fact, he says to use it when it has JUST started to float in water, only expanded 20% in volume. He accomplishes that by adding a lot of water and flour to a very small amount of starter (100%), and leave it overnight at a very cool temperature (65F). This is dfferent from the usual practice of using the levain when it has reached the peak volume.
2. He use a very small amount of levain in the main dough: 200g of levain at 100% in 1000g of flour, which means only 9.1% of the total flour is in the levain.
3. He uses relatively warm water to mix the main dough, and the bulk rise temp is pretty warm too (78F to 82F), which counter-balance point 1 and 2 above, to speed up the bulk rise somewhat
4. At the end of bulk rise, he only aims for a 20% to 30% volume increase in his main dough. That takes 3 to 4 hours at the warm-ish temp he describled in the basic flow, but can also be modified according to preference. For instance, lower the water temp to 65F, and keep the dough at 60F, the bulk rise could take 10 to 12 hours, a convenient overnight schedule. (Food for thought: I often wonder how much bulk rise a dough really needs. I know it needs some to build up basic strength and falvor, but I have seen and tried a variety of fermentation schedules, some put more time in bulk rise less in proofing, some do the opposite. Of couse each can be successful, IF it satsify some basic rules, and each would produce breads with different flavors. My conclusion so far is that different style of breads would prefer different fermentation schedule. For instance, the book mentions an example where a pan bread that would have support thoughout proofing and baking could have a very short bulk rise since the dough needs less strength, while a free form loaf may require longer bulk rise. In addition, I think a fuller bulk rise would change the crumb structure too.)
5. The dough is very wet. He says the basic formula is 75% hydration, but he's not counting the 100% levain, it's actually 77%+, wetter than my usual baguette dough. I used all the water (two addition, the last 50g is added after autolyse), the dough felt silky and easy to handle - yes, it's wet and sticky, but I have been making very wet baguettes every week, so I am used to the "wet glob" kind of dough. The "let time and fermentation do their job" method works well here again, don't be freaked out by the initial puddle of mess, give it a couple of hours and some S&F, you will see how it will turn into a beautiful silky cohensive "puddle".
6. After I posted about the 36 hour baguettes, some have asked me about how to S&F such a wet dough. As I mentioned in that thread, I simply take the dough out, hold it in my hands, left hand strentching out, then fold back. Repeat with right hand. Put back in the container. The key is to have the container and hands well oiled. When I do that with my baguette dough, it was easy, and quick, and efficient. However, when I tried to do that with this dough, I immediately realized that it's not the best way - because the dough is much larger. My baguette dough has 500g of flour, this one has 1100g, and I have small hands. If I try to do the same thing with this dough, it would try to slip off, so I had to dig my fingers into the dough a bit to grab on, which hurts the dough. So I changed to Chad's method describled in the book: folding the dough in the container. My point is that it's not important to known how exactly a S&F is done, it's important to know the principle. YOu need to stretch out and fold the dough back GENTLY. Once - in a way that's most convenient for you.
7. With such a wet dough, it's the best to make simple shapes. I made a boule and a batard, both have very open crumb, but the boule has more and larger holes, because it was handled less during shaping. (Who's up for shaping this dough into baguettes? I can't get the thought out of my head, there's something wrong with me! The funny thing is that Chad's baguette formula has LESS water than this country loaf.)
8. I retarded the shaped dough overnight at 40F, put them at room temp for another hour the 2nd morning to finish proofing, then baked. The book says I can proof and bake on the same day of bulk rise, but I never seem to have that much time in one day, and I like the flavor better after a long proof.
9. The crumb is VERY open, to the point that it's hard to slice. Especially the boule, which has a large crosssection and the crispy crust is thin, I think I need an electric slicer to cut through those airholes cleanly, now I know why hole-y baguettes are shaped long and thin, so there's more crust support and easier to cut!
10. The book ueses a cast iron dutch oven set to bake the bread in, I don't have such things, so I baked them on my stone with steam. I can see how they spreaded out a bit on the stone in the first few minutes, but then quickly sprung up beautifully to give great volume. However, I can see how a vessel with limited space can contain the shape even better to give a higher/rounder shape. Next time I may try a higher baking temp for the first few minutes.
11. The flavor is sensational. Very moist, cool crumb, matched well with crackling thin crust. What struck me the most is the sweetness. Even after a night of retarding, there's barely any sourness, but the sweetness of the wheat is very apparent. My husband and I both loved it.
Next up: I want to try the WW loaf in the book, even MORE water!
Submitting this to Yeastspotting.