The Fresh Loaf

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Revisiting the Tartine Basic Country Bread

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GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Revisiting the Tartine Basic Country Bread

For the first time in a few months, I baked some Tartine Basic Country Bread.   It remains among my favorite breads for crumb texture—it hits the perfect point for me between light/pillowy and chewy.  

I follow Robertson’s formula, except I only make enough levain for one recipe (halving his formula), and this time I used Central Milling’s Organic Type 85 flour for the levain build.  I made the 1970 gram dough batch into three loaves, a 600 gram boule, a 600 gram batard and a 770 gram boule. 

Due to space constraints in my oven, I baked the two smaller loaves in a first batch, and the bigger boule alone (having set it in the fridge for two and half hours at the beginning of the proof, then letting it finish proofing for three hours at room temperature).  This allowed enough time to re-pre-heat the oven and iron skillet with lava rocks for the second bake.  The cold-retarded boule got the best oven spring.

I note a recent comment in Eric Hanner’s post on “Tartine Bread- A Dissenting Viewpoint” (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20544/tartine-bread-dissenting-viewpoint#comment-223087), asking whether there is an error in Robertson’s formula that explains how wet and sticky the dough is.  The answer is “No!”.   Though this dough is hard to handle, and takes judicious use of flour on bench and hands, and lots of rice flour/AP flour mix in the brotformmen/bannetons, the high hydration is one of the keys to the wonderfulness of this bread.

To shape these loaves takes a light dusting of flour on the board, regular applications of flour to the hands, and quick movements with hands and bench knife.  With practice, it can be done. 

My loaves yesterday wanted to stay in their brotformmen, and the sticking deformed a couple of the loaves a bit, but the results were fine.  Next time, even more flour in the brotformmen. 

 Glenn

Comments

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

No wonder why you make it often.   They look delicious.  Have you made them in Hot or Cold dutch oven's to see what if any difference might be to steam and stone ?

Nice baking Glenn.

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I have baked the BCB in a Dutch Oven a couple times.  I get great oven spring, but the crust doesn't get as dark.  So I prefer baking on a stone.

Glenn

Roo's picture
Roo

Very Nice Glenn.  I too like working with this bread due to the high hydration.  It is also a great tasting bread.

Roo's picture
Roo

The one and only time I made this, I baked in my wood fire oven and teh oven spring was awesome as well.

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Roo--

A friend of mine regularly bakes this bread in a WFO and loves it.  I'd like to try that some time.

Thanks for the comments.

Glenn

breaducation's picture
breaducation

Great job. Looks like really nice proofing on the crumb.

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Yes, high hydration, long primary ferment and long proof all contribute to the poofy center of this bread.

Thanks for the comment.

Glenn

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Glenn,

Beautiful loaves :-)

I have concluded that I get better oven spring when I shape and immediately put a loaf into my refrig. too....An accidental discovery due to limited space in my 'summer' oven - AKA a large toaster oven that is set up in my garage.

 Rarely do I bake a single loaf of bread so I have been experimenting with all sorts of ways to get my proofing times in sync with oven availability.  I generally bulk retard all of my doughs in the refrig. over night and then, in the morning, I let the dough warm up for a couple of hours before shaping and proofing.  Lately I have been shortening the bulk warm up time and shaping the dough when it is still slightly cool.  One loaf stays out at room temp. and the others are placed into the refrig. immediately.  I have let them warm up before being placed in the oven just as you did but I have also put the cold loaves straight from the refrig. into the oven.  The best results to date are the ones that go into the oven straight out of the refrig.!

I never would have discovered this had I not constructed a 'summer kitchen'.  A perfect example of the saying 'necessity is the mother of invention'.  I would add another word onto that phrase though and that would be 'necessity is the mother of discovery'.

So it was nice to read here that someone else has had a similar experience to what I am seeing.  Thanks for sharing!

Take Care,

Janet

breaducation's picture
breaducation

Janet,

I have found baking directly from the fridge to result in the best bread as well. I think a cold dough sort of locks in the dough's potential energy whereas if you take it from the fridge and let it come to room temp it loses that energy. Also a cold, stiff dough results in a much cleaner score than a warm one which could definitely have positive effects on the final result.

-Jorgen

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Jorgen,

Yes, I agree about the scoring.  I also wonder about the 'scientific' aspect of this phenomena and just haven't done a search here yet to find an answer.  On my 'to do' list.  :-)

Janet

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

...but I just might.  I do think the slower cooler proofing helps with flavor; it might also help with oven spring.

Thanks.

Glenn

ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

I totally agree.  After baking weekly sourdough bread for the past two years my fave 'go to' recipes remain your San Francisco Country Sourdough and Chad Robertson's Tartine loaf.  I could never understand why someone would malign someone who is obviously successful and an artist who works 'in the spirit' (aka Chad Robertson) rather than a diehard purist who works 'to the letter' if you get my drift.  Why not just celebrate BREAD!!!  It's a beautiful thing.

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

To have a formula of mine mentioned in the same list of faves with the BCB is quite an honor.  Glad you like the SFCSD, ronnie g.  I haven't made it in a while; time to get it back in the rotation.

Thanks.

Glenn

ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

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