The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tartine Bread

jdgodsey1's picture

Hi all,

I'm trying the Tartine Bread recipe and seem to be having trouble getting my Starter going.  Here's my environment.  I live in the Denver-metro area at about 6000 ft. elevation.  At this time of the year, my house temp ranges from 60 - 66 degrees.  I began the starter on Apr 9 following the Tartine instructions exactly.  I use a small plastic container (approx. 2 pints).  Filled it halfway with tap water.  I use a charcoal filter on my faucet similar to a Pur filter.  I use King Author non-bleached bread flour and King Author whole wheat in a 50/50 mixture.  It took 4 handfuls of flour to achieve a thick batter.  I mixed it with my hand until the lumps were gone.  I covered the container with a damp paper towel and put it on top of the refrigerator out of direct sunlight.

Apr 10 - no activity visible, water began to separate to the top - about 1/16"

Apr 11 - a few bubble were visible on the top, none on the sides, water separation grew to about 1/8"

Apr 12 - noticed more bubbles on top and side, starter did grow, water still separated on top

Apr 13 - brown crust developed around the top out edges.  Smell was mildly acidic.  Choose to begin the feeding schedule.  Discarded 80% and feed with 1/2 cup of 50/50 flour and 1/2 cup of warm tap water.  The time is 6:30pm.  No real rise/fall activity occurs with in the next 5 hours.  House temp remains between 60 - 66 degrees in a 24 hour period.

Apr 14 - water is separated at the top.  A few bubbles are visible.  Mild aroma - no acidity.  No visible rise/fall activity.  Discard 80% and feed again 24 hours later using same method as above

Apr 15 - water is separated at the top.  A few bubbles are visible.  Mild aroma - no acidity.  No visible rise/fall activity.  Skip feeding.

Apr 16 - water is separated at the top.  A few bubbles are visible.  Mild aroma - no acidity.  No visible rise/fall activity.  Discard 80% and feed again at 8:00am using 1/3 cup of 50/50 flour and 1/3 cup of warm tap water.  House temp - 61 degrees.

I think I'm following the Tartine instructions correctly, but don't believe I'm getting the proper results.  Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance for any and all comments.


dmsnyder's picture

Basic Country Bread from Tartine Bread

Basic Country Bread from Tartine Bread crumb

I made this following the recipe in the book. The whole wheat flour was freshly milled. The bread was delicious.

I always end up with a couple hundred grams of extra levain when I make the Basic Country Bread. I hate throwing it away, so, this week, I made a batch of baguettes with it. The 70% hydration dough was hand mixed and fermented for 2 hours with stretch and folds in the bowl every 30 minutes, then fermented for another 90 minutes with stretch and folds on the board at 45 and 90 minutes. I retarded the dough in bulk overnight. This afternoon, I divided the dough, pre-shaped it and let it rest for an hour. Then, the baguettes were shaped, rolled on wet paper towels then in mixed seeds and proofed en couche for 45 minutes before baking at 450ºF for 20 minutes.

Seeded baguettes

Seeded baguette crumb

The flavor was very much like the Tartine Basic Country Bread except more sour. Very nice.


kaycey17's picture

Baking Tartine Country Bread

February 6, 2011 - 2:50pm -- kaycey17

I'm also one of the casual home bakers that are intrigued by the Tartine Bread, and when the book came out, I was not hesitated to try out the recipe.

I got so much information from this website and some other posts that led me to a successful first baking attempt. I also did my second attempt 3 weeks later and it definitely improved. I also wrote a blog about some of the challenges I went through so hopefully it will help out whoever is going to follow the same path

longhorn's picture

Bread authors have slowly nudged me toward buying some organic and stone ground flours to experiment with. Exploring the web and other sources led me to hone in on War Eagle Mill (WEM) in Rogers Arkansas for my source for they have a good reputation and are closer than most. When they ran a 20% off sale with free shipping for orders over $100 I had to give it a try so I ordered 25 pounds each of organic AP and BF (roller milled), and 10 pounds each of stone ground organic WW and White WW. The flour came Wednesday so I cranked up the oven to make Tartine yesterday. Photo below.

I only used the BF and WW and the dough is mostly BF. The BF has more aroma of wheat then the KA AP and BF I normally use. The BF is about 11.5% protein according to War Eagle. The WW had a wonderful texture and aroma also. The dough seemed a bit touch dryer than KA for the same hydration - but softer. During the bulk ferment the "wheaty" aroma of the flours really grew evident. Tasting the dough revealed it to be sweeter and "grassier" than KA. The dough responded very well to S&Fs but, despite its drier feel, remained a tad stickier than the KA AP and stuck to the bannetons - and also flowed rather dramatically on removal from the bannetons, giving a rather flat disk in my cloche. Oven spring was very good and the expansion almost hid the folds from the banneton sticking. Flavor was wheatier than KA.

Preliminary conclusions: The WEM BF is similar in behaviour to KA AP but with more nose and more color. The aroma gives the bread a "lighter" taste profile. The crumb has a bit less bite than the same bread make with KA AP and WW. The WEM WW appears lovely and worked very well in the role of supporting flour. I think I will next try it or the white WW in a miche - or maybe one of each.  Given the WEM AP is supposed to be about  a percent lower in protein I am guessing I won't use it much but I will try it in Banh Mi for I have been struggling to get the crumb as delicate as I want. Overall I was pleased with this initial foray into organic and stone ground flours.

The loaves were made following the Tartine recipe with one exception. My starter is less sour so I use 50 grams of starter to make the 400 grams of levain in the first step. Then I used 200 grams of the levain and followed the recipe. Key difference was that my kitchen was around 67F so the bulk fermentation ran about 7 hours. The Hamelman videos at KA on loaf forming reinforced the need for the dough to be airy and I gutted it out. After shaping I moved to a warming drawer to accelerate the proof. The loaf I cut had a small peak at the top and I guessed it indicated larger holes and that was verified. The other loaf will be more uniform. I tried moving the preheat down to 475 with the bake at 440 and the loaves came out a bit light for my taste (internal temp 210). The surface has a duller finish than I like because I used rice flour in the flour mix to coat the banneton since the dough was pretty sticky. More photos follow.

winestem's picture

Now that I've got "spring" how do I get big air (holes)?

December 27, 2010 - 8:29am -- winestem

Thanks to the answers on this board, I've now got loaves that are looking and tasting wonderful! I'm making Tartine-type bread and no-knead bread with my wild yeast. But, never content with the status quo, I'd like my crumb to be airier, with bigger holes. Any suggestions?

allisoninsf's picture

I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone here on TFL for helping me through my first two big bread baking adventures!

After being mesmerized by the promotional video for Tartine Bread ( I became obsessed with the idea of baking my own crusty yummy bread at home.  At about the same time I snagged the book, this cautionary column in SF Weekly was published (  A little bummed but still enthusiastic, I took to the web to search for pointers from those who had already tried the Tartine recipe.

After sifting through the wonderful posts from all of you, I finally felt prepared to take on the country loaf.  While my loaves were a little overproofed during the final rise, and I had some trouble scoring, they still came out pretty well:


Then, because I'd read so many comparisons to/recommendations for the No Knead Bread, I thought I'd try my hand at that too!

So, thanks again TFL members!  You helped me through my first two real bread baking experiences, and for that I'm very grateful :)

ehanner's picture

A few weeks ago I posted on Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread titled A Dissenting Viewpoint. Several other members have posted reviews about the book and their breads since then. One thing I didn't care for was Robertson's confusing and incorrect description of bakers math through out the book. It is true however that if you follow the directions, you will get a great bread, regardless of the math.

Aside from the above, there are a few interesting, and I would say ingenious details within the book that need to be discussed. First, I like the idea of with holding 50g of warm water in the final dough to be added with the salt, after the autolyse. I haven't seen this procedure suggested by any other authors and it works well. I have never been convinced that the salt is properly distributed and dissolved when added after the autolyse. The water helps dissolve the salt and get it incorporated into the dough. Robertson suggests using your wet fingers to cut the additional water into the dough. Again the use of fingers to cut the new water and salt in is a new procedure that is simple and works well. It feels a little funky at first but the dough comes back together in the bowl later just fine.

Another more subtle thing that the author suggests is using 80F water in the dough. It's a way to assure that the culture starts off in a temperature range that wakes the culture up and gets it started eating and multiplying and creating co2. The result will be a more airy loaf, earlier in the proof. Judging by the loaves other members have posted on, I'd say the warmer water is a good idea.

Then, the Lodge Combo Cooker. I resisted buying the suggested combo cooker and used instead a couple of my collection of DO's and a covered steamable pan that I use on the stone. That is until yesterday. I found the Lodge CC at my Ace Hardware on sale for $33. It isn't that I didn't get good results using my other covered baking solutions. But as they say here in Packer Football country, "Good is the enemy of Great". I see DMsnyder has posted about his first Combo Cooker bake also so I suggest you read his details about his use. After Sylvia and Franko showed us how beautiful their bread are using the CC, I started wondering if the proportions of the cooker were helping the spring. Also the idea of not heating the pan first is definitely worth checking out.

I was surprised at the size of the Combo Cooker. It is perfectly sized for a 2# loaf. If you cut the handles off it would fit inside most of my DO's.  At Sylvia's suggestion, I proofed the first loaf in the smaller component pan, covered with the deeper pan. I sprinkled some grits on the bottom before loading the dough from the banetton. No extra oil or parchment were used.

As for the actual baking. I thought the crust was to thin and after cooling, not crisp for my tastes. I followed Robertsons advice on this and left the cover on for 20 minutes followed by another 20 uncovered. I thought it was a little pale so I baked it another 5 minutes for a total of 25 minutes. The second loaf was placed in the still hot base with a small handful of additional grits under the dough first. The top was still slightly warm and I spritzed some water on the inside of the cover. At the end of the second bake, I shut the oven down and let the crust dry for an additional 5 minutes. I liked the second crust a little better.

The next time I use this method, I'll take the cover off after 12 minutes. This will make the crust a little thicker and crispier I believe. Here are my first 2 boules of Tartine Basic country Bread, using the Combo-Cooker.

Robertson has brought  several ingenious methods to light in his new book. I think it's worth taking a look at to learn and understand these unique hand methods.


lynnmichael's picture

When should I feed my starter? Beginner here...

December 3, 2010 - 8:17am -- lynnmichael

Hi there, 

I'm an absolute novice, who inspired by "Tartine Bread," mixed up my first starter two weeks ago. I used the formula of equal parts lukewarm water to 50/50 mix of WW and AP flour. Although my starter bubbled now and then after daily a.m. feedings of equal parts water and 50/50, it never doubled in volume.


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