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longhorn's picture

A Visit to Tartine

November 1, 2010 - 9:01am -- longhorn

I took my wife to Napa for a long weekend for her birthday and used that opportunity to order a half loaf of Tartine country bread and picked it up Saturday afternoon on the way back to the Oakland airport. Even after reading Chad's new book about his bread, and having made it two weeks ago following his method as closely as I could with materials on hand, I wasn't really prepared for what I found. I think some of you may find my reactions useful!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


 


Chad Robertson's Basic Country Bread from “Tartine Bread” has been a hit among TFL members, and with good reason. It's a wonderful bread, and Robertson's description of how to make it is clear and detailed. He not only describes what to do but also why. He provides variations on his procedures in recognition of the realities of the home baker's scheduling issues and describes their effects on the end product.


Robertson recommended a baking procedure that replicates the result of baking in a commercial gas oven for the home baker. His procedure utilizes a cast iron covered Dutch oven. This particular equipment dictates that the loaves be shaped as boules.


I have made Robertson's Basic Country Bread once before and found it delicious. Its most amazing virtue, to me, is how long it stays moist. I made 2 boules before. However, at the bakery, Robertson shapes this bread as bâtards.


Today, I made the Basic Country Bread as bâtards. They were proofed on a linen couche. The oven was steamed using the SFBI method I've described in another entry(Oven steaming using the SFBI method.). I baked, as prescribed by Robertson, at 450ºF but switched to a dry oven at 15 minutes and baked for a total of 35 minutes.




The crust was very firm initially and sang softly while cooling. It softened with cooling. The crumb was very open – as pictured in “Tartine Bread.” The aroma was very wheaty, and the flavor was very nice, with mild sourdough tang.


This is a bread I'll be making again, no doubt with variations in flour mix and steaming methods. I would like to get a bread whose crust stays crisp longer.


David


 

Sam Fromartz's picture
Sam Fromartz

I've posted a brief review of the Tartine Bread book here at ChewsWise.com. I've really enjoyed baking with it, and wanted to show off my results of his whole wheat loaf, which is actually 70% whole wheat. Here's a picture. (I also didn't post the entire piece because I've had problems posting on the Fresh Loaf blog). 


Tartine whole wheat

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


When I took the Artisan I workshop at the San Francisco Baking Institute last August, Miyuki demonstrated the method of oven steaming they recommend for home bakers.


The oven is not pre-steamed (before loading the loaves). A cast iron skillet filled with steel pieces (nuts and bolts, rebar pieces) is pre-heated in the oven along with two baking stones. One stone is placed on a rack above the stone and rack on which the loaves will be loaded.


When the loaves are loaded, a perforated pie tin filled with ice cubes is set atop the skillet. As the ice melts, water drips through the perforations and turns to steam when it hits the metal pieces.



I had a hard time finding the perforated pie tins, so I hadn't been able to try this method until today. I did two bakes: One was two loaves of a very familiar bread – Hamelman's “Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain” from “Bread.” The other was a new bread to me - Chad Robertson's “Basic Country Bread” from “Tartine.” I made two large boules of the Country Bread. One was baked using the “Magic Bowl” technique and the other with the SFBI steaming method, minus the second baking stone and using lava rocks in place of metal pieces.


My current baking method is to pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with the baking stone and skillet in place. When I load my loaves, I turn down the oven to whatever temperature the recipe specifies, using the conventional bake setting. After 10-15 minutes (depending on the total length of the bake), I change the oven setting to convection bake but 25ºF lower. I find, in my oven, conventional baking retains steam well, but convection dries the crust better.


Using the SFBI steaming method, the Vermont Sourdoughs came out substantially similar to how they come out with my previous method – pouring boiling water over the lava rocks. I could not detect any difference in oven spring, bloom, crust color or the texture of either the crust or crumb.



Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain



Crust Crackles



Vermont SD with Increased Whole Grain crumb


The Basic Country Breads were different from each other. The one baked in under a stainless steel bowl was a bit shinier. The crust softened quicker with cooling. It did not sing when cooling. I don't think there was any real difference in oven spring or bloom.



Basic Country Bread baked with the "Magic Bowl" method



Basic Country Bread baked with the SFBI steaming method



Basic Country Bread crumb


My conclusion is that the SFBI method is effective. It does not require that water be boiled and poured into the hot skillet. To me, it seems a bit easier than the method I've been using. That said, the breads baked using the SFBI method for steaming the oven seem pretty much identical to those I get using my previous technique.


I don't have the kind of covered cast iron skillet/shallow dutch oven that Chad Robertson recommends be used to bake his Basic Country Bread. I do have enameled cast iron ovens that should perform similarly. Perhaps I should try one of them, although my expectation would be that they perform similarly to the "Magic Bowl" method.


David


 


 


BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

I have really become enamored of late with Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread, particularly his basic country loaf which is a combination of APF or BF and WWF.  I had to experiment with some raisins and pistachios that I had on hand.  The methodology was identical to Robertson's given in the text, same proportions, same times and so forth.  My only variation is that I use spring water, I mill local Oklahoma winter hard red wheatberries, and perhaps my method of folding the bread and the number of times that I fold versus the text.  I fold 4 or more times depending on what kind of structure I see developing; Chad states he folds three times every 25 minutes during the bulk rise.  I add one of two extra folds.  Also, I do not use all of the 50 g of water that he calls for when addiing the 20 g of salt after the inital 20 minute autolyse.  I usually just end up adding 25 g rather than the entire 50 because I feel it makes my dough to wet.


I have also discovered that his temps of water and air environment called for at various locations in the recipe should be adhered to.  He states using water at 80 degrees and he's right.  I tried using my ambient temp water at between 65 and 72 and the dough behaved differently.  The bulk rise and final rise temps should also be between 78 and 82 which is conducive to good yeast activity and providing a proper amount of time for the flavors to be created in the dough.


In this bread I added 1 1/2 cups of currants (a smaller dark raisin) and 1 1/2 cups of unsalted pistachio nuts, added at the first folding following  the 20 minutes autolyse or rrest.  It took several minutes to incorporate these two items evenly throughout the dough.  If you skimp here, the raisnins and nuts will be along the inside of the crust edge rather than scattered throughout the loaf.


Also, as the recipe states, it will make two loaves.  During this bake, I cooked the first loaf immediately ater the final rise.  The second loaf I allowed to ferment in the fridge for 12 hours just to see if  there was a difference in taste.  There is and its quite good.  But, even without that fermentation period, the bread was also very good.  But, the time in the fridge did improve the flavor.


Finally, I baked these two loaves in a round clay couche that I soaked before puttiing into the oven and I added  them as tthe oven was heating.  The oven was up to 360 degrees when I added the couche (normally I put my cooking vessel in when I fire up the oven, but I forgot this time.)  The clay vessel had been soaking in water for 15 minutes just prior to going in the oven to preheat befoe i added the boules.


I put the loaves in when my temp reached 515, put the top on and after 10 minutes, turned the oven down to 450.  After a total of 20 minutes had elapsed from the time I first put the dough in the clay pot, I took the lid off and baked for another 20 minutes at 450.  The crust becomes harder, good carmelization, and the interior crumb is chewy and flavorful.  I really, really like this bread.


Here are the pix:


 


from the oven couche


 


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