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Tartine Bread, my first "Basic Country Bread"

BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

Tartine Bread, my first "Basic Country Bread"

This past Friday, I received my copy of Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, a book I awaited with much anticipation.  My wait was not in vain.  But, the story told by Robertson for his search for the "rustic bread of the 'awesome baker' in Bordeaux" in the first 87 pages of this 303 page text is worthy of a future movie.  It is the story of dedication, goal reaching, dreams fulfilled, beautiful settings, the human spirit, and the story of Bread".  I commenced my effort at making the first loaves after having fully read and reread the sections on making the Basic Country Bread. 


I had some starter that had been sitting in my fridge for about 1 week, surprisingly it still smelled sweet with a slight hint of sour.  I had been developing my starter for the last six months and am very familiar with its properties.  I found Robertson's text on the difference between starter and leaven to be illuminating and educational.  Perhaps I'm just dense, but I never understood that starter and leavan are two distinct things.  The texts I've read in the past seemed to use these terms interchangeably.  However, after reading Robertson's text at pp. 71-73, I feel I now comprehend the differences and, more importantly, understand why my past "sourdoughs" were overly sour.  I think this section is a must read for new or neo-new bread bakers who desire to make really good, sourdough bread.  To Roberston, the starter is simply an ingredient, albeit a mixed and developed ingredient, that is used to create the leavan.  The quality of the starter, its age, the length of time that it ferments will all directly affect the leavan and the resulting taste and qualilty of the bread made with it. 


I followed Robertson's direction to the "T" with two exceptions, I think minor, but also point out how a change in the fermenting schedule can affect taste.  The first of these had to do with my starter.  Within 90 minutes of refreshing it with the requisite 50/50 (AP/WW flours) and an equal amount of water, I saw that my leavan was strongly rising and in generally a good, healthy condition.  I realized as Robertson states, that the flour I would use to make the loaves would act as additional feed for the wild yeast I had used to give my starter life so many months ago.  The author would have had me use the starter after it had a couple more hours to grow and subside, I did not wait for it to subside due to final time considerations.  The second change had to do with my final time and temperature ambient for the final rise in the floured bannetons.  My bulk rise occured at 77 degrees for four hours and was slightly cooler than the instructions.  However, Robertson indicates that one can balance the time and temp.  For example, if you aren't able to bulk rise between 78 and 82, then lengthen or shorten the time of four hours depending on whether your real temp is above or below the desired temp.  Because I was off by a couple of degrees from his median "best" temp, I decided to give the dough a couple of extra S&Fs which paid off as you can see from the two sections of dough after cutting them w/ my bench knife.  Also, I had to allow extra time for the final rise because our night time temps here in Oklahoma have been drastically cooler than we've experienced throughout the summer.  Last night's low was 44 degrees.  Roberston's text states the dough should be given a four hour final rise between 78 and 82 degrees, but that if that isn't feasible, then you can retard it  in your fridge for up to 12 hours with the understnding that the "sour" quality will increase as the dough ferments for a longer period.  Because it would have been 4 a.m. for the requisite four hours to pass and also because I would have had to either turn on my heating or keep  the gas oven on to try to keep my kitchen warmer, I decided to let the dough rise in the bannetons near a partially opened window, the bannetons were covered in a heavy, clear plastic bag, so that I could go to sleep and hope that they would not be over inflated when I started my day at 5:45 a.m. 


My gamble paid off because the loaves raised beautifully and the final taste was very mildly sour.  The important thiing that I got from his text is that he provides the guidelines which are not hard and fast for time and temp.  They can be tweaked with the result being that the flavor will be more, or less, sour depending on how you decide to manipulate the time to work for your schedule.  Other than these two changes, i.e., the starter and the modified time and temp changes, I followed his directions with specificity.


His basic loaf has the following ingredients:


700 g water at 80 degrees  (I use spring water.)


200 g of leavan


900 g of flour (800 AP and 100 WW)


(note:  the whole wheat I mill myself from local OK wheat berries; the AP I used is a combination of KAAP and KABF w/ a small amount of KA's European-style Flour, which I added to my flour bin when the bag was almost empty.)


20 g of Morton's sea salt


50 g of warm (100-105) water


(note:  these last two items are added after the first Rest after the dough was mixed by hand.)


Procedure:


Add the water and 200 g of leavan and mix to separate, creating a milky colored water with very few visible bits of leavan.  Add the flour and hand mix until all of the dough has been moistened and no visible dry dough exists.  Rest for 20 minuutes.  Next add the salt and 50 g of warm water.  (Note:  don't just add all of the 50 g of warm water all at once.  Do this gradually because you may not need all of it.  For example, I used a rubber bowl spatula dipped in water to help me mix the dough.  That little bit of water on the spatula made the dough wetter and had I added all of it, I believe I would have had much too wet a dough to do anything with.  So, I thiink the extra 50 is your buffer depending on your local conditions and are not exactly mandatory.)


Here is the process and the results in photographs:


The dough after hand mixing and settling out to rest covered in the garage:After hand mix, bulk rest.


 




After bulk rising in the garage for three hours, I brought the dough in and put it on a heating pad to try to reach the desired temp of 80 degrees, but had trouble holding it at that constant.  Because I thought the dough possessed good structure, I decided to divide the dough and let it rest before the final shaping.



After division and Resting



After a 20 minute rest, I completed the final shaping into boules.  I should add that his textual descriptioin of how to shape was very clear and enabled me to make the best shaped boules I had ever completed.  However, I should add that David Snyder has an excellent blog on shaping that was posted, I believe, just last week.  David provided the foundation and Robertson enabled me to fully comprehend the process of pulliing the skin over the boule and rolling it until the wet dough was encapsulated inside and a drier skin w/ good tension was on the outside.  This enabled the boules to hold their shape during the final rise in floured bannetons (Robertson uses a 50/50 mix of AP and Rice flours).


Beginniing final rise



At 6:00 a.m. the loaves were ready to go into the oven.  Rather than dust the tops (soon to be bottoms of the loaves), I preferred to put parchment paper pre-cut to the size of my dutch ovens.  My oven is a GE Adura which heats slightly cooler than the temp guage, I therefore increased the temp to 515, rather than the 500 called for in the text.  After 20 minutes the top lids of the dutch ovens came off and I moved them around a couple of times for the next 20 minutes to ensure even baking.  Here's the final results.






 


 


 



My Crumb didn't turn out as "holey" filled w/ large air pockets, but, I'm very happy none the less.  It is moist, good chewing texture, and it tastes great.







I think the text is great, I love the stories of his test bakers, and the fact that I used  to paiint sea scapes from Inverness on Point Reyes to Point Arena and along Coleman Valley Road for a daily routine from 2000 to 2002 gave me rememberances that added to my enjoyment of Robertson's quest for the idyllic bread.  His text is clear, the photos are illustrative and provide another teaching dimension to this great text.  Although I've only looked at the variant recipes following The Basic Country Bread recipe, I think there are plenty of taste treats to satisfy all of us on TFL.  I recently discovered there is a YouTube video which documents the test bakers and the writing of the text.  If you search Tartine Bread on the TheFreshLoaf,com websiite there is an entry that provides a llink, or you can search YouTube.com for Tartiine Bread and I suspect the link will appear.


Bernie Piel


 

jeffy1021's picture
jeffy1021

I also received my copy of Taritne Bread over the weekend, but the breads that I have been making so far involve using instant yeast.  I have started the process outlined in the book to make my own starter so we'll see how that goes.


 


Jeff

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I got my copy as well, have been reading and re-reading it. Like you said, the part about how he found his ideal loaf is very interesting to read.Living/apprenticing in France and eating local cheese, bread, and meat; surfing in the morning and baking in the afternoon - I think I want his life! :P


Can't wait to try formulas from this book, starting from the basic country loaf. I hope mine would turn out as good as yours!

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Glad to hear your enjoying the book.  My copy should arrive any day..looking forward to reading...it's been to warm to bake this week.


Sylvia

BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

life.  Indeed, that's why I thought a movie was in store for the plebes like myself.  I know intimately that part of California having lived in Santa Rosa while attending the San Francisco Art Institute  in order to take a break from the ginds of a busy law practice.  Everyday for two years I would tell myself that the people living along that part of the California northern coast were living in Paradise. 


What called my attention to the book were the many postings by several TFLers that lived in the Bay area and made mention of the bakery.  When the first bit of buzz came out about the book some inner voice said "buy it".  So glad I listened.  About the only thing not mentioned was cruising through Sonoma and gathering inexpensive but great wine on the square in Sonoma to enjoy at a camp fire on the beach near where the Russian River flows into the ocean and eating great bread and other fine food.  In this day and age where dreams seldom seem to come true, I'm so happy to read how his came to pass.


Sylvia, I'd be interested to know which of his recipes turn your head.  Honestly, they all looked great, but the polenta addition will have to be my next experiment, followd by the olive bread.  I'm sure this is going to be one of my favorite bread books.


Jeffy, don't forget there are a lot of postings on starters on this website to help you if you need it. 


Thank you, all, for your postings on this wonderful book.


Bernie

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

And I enjoyed your book review.


I've enjoyed the breads and pastries from Tartine, but not often enough. 


The book sounds well worth buying.


David

BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

David, I'm pretty certain that it was one of your posts or replies that I first heard of Tartine's.  Something like,  "We were trying to decide whether to go to Pearl's or Tartine's......"  So I owe you a great deal of thanks for piquing my interest.The book was sheer joy and enabled me to reminisce some of the most wonderful and happy days of my latter years.  Painting the northern CA coast, there was nothing else like it and brings many fond memories.  Aside from the trip down memory lane, I learned a great deal from this book.  I am not one to forcus on the scientific facts and figures as many of our contemporaries do.  This text was much to my liking and still imparted extremely useful and worthwhile quality bread making/baking knowledge.  It's also the first time that I followed a bread recipe so religiously and have the results turn out so close to the anticipated result.


Thank you, too, David, for your kind compliment.  I hold your judgment and opinion in very high esteem.


Bernie Piel

gregnim's picture
gregnim

Here is a link to a video about Tartine Bread that I received this morning. After watching it, I'm afraid that I have another breadbook purchase to make (well, one can never have too many, right?)


thefermenter.dikaryon.org/post/1215169417/tartine-bread


 


I wish you well,


Greg

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

My wife, a big fan of the bakery, grabbed it. Pretty scary. Now she's talking about making bread!


Uh oh. 


David

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

David's gonna need a second oven.


Good luck with that.


Glenn

BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

Greg, thank you so very much for sharing that URL for the video.  It certainly gives one a taste for the text.  I find it interesting to see how the internet can serve as a superb marketing tool, at least as we have here, for a bread baking text.  It seems to make the text a bit larger than life.  Very nice, indeed.  


I found it fascinating to watch him shape and form his boule.  It was a totally new method, but it also helped to visually describe the method of putting the tension on the outer skin.  For me, again, this video as was true of reading the text was a great trip down memory lane when I attended the San Francisco Art Institute and commuted in from Santa Rosa, visiting friends throughout the Bay Area.  It if sounds like this Tulsa baker is having SF withdrawals, .......well, guess so.


Yes, Glenn, I agree, sounds like there's going to be a new oven in David's future.  But, David, this may be just the time to put in for the WFO that we all dream about.  {:-)


Bernie Piel


 

jeffy1021's picture
jeffy1021

So I tried using my one week old starter to make a country loaf and it did not turn out so well.


Earlier this week, my starter was rising after feeding and falling half a day later as it said it should in the book.  However, when I tried to use it to make leavin, it did not seem to have as many bubbles as it had in the past when I checked on it the next morning.  I ended up putting in the oven under some warm water to speed things up.  Eventually the leavin floated in room temp water (the indicator mentioned in the book to know when it is ready).  I proceeded to make the dough.


Bulk fermentation was done in the oven under warm water for about 4 hours with S&F as instructed in the book.  There were some bubbles, but not nearly as many as when I use commercial yeast and very little increase in volume.  The final rise was at a cooler room temperature at 65 degrees for about 6 hours in a banneton.  It seemed to rise very little if at all during those 6 hours.


The crust and flavor of the bread are good.  It also had a nice moist crumb.  Do you think I need to mature my starter longer to get more lift?


BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

Jeff, 


From what you described, I'd say you have a weak starter and need to try a couple of feedings.  Is your starter very liquidy?  What kind of water do you use to make your starter? I use spring water because I believe that it has a more natural aspect to it and it works better than my tap water which actually seems to kill or retard the starter.  What ingredients are you using to make your starter?  APF and WW?


The starter I use to make my leavan is quite strong and i've been keeping it around for 5 or 6 months.  Also, I feed it before I use it and I look for a rise that doubles the bulk of the starter before I use it.  This usually happens within two or three hours, at most.  The currant/pistachio basic country loaf was made with a starter that I was trying to back off on the "sourness" quality.  I fed it more frequently and that seemed to produce the desired effect I believe because it didn't have a lot of time to ferment.


I would suggest feeding your starter using this procedure.  Take out about 3/4's cup of your starter and put it in a bowl with about 3/4's of spring water or distilled water and add 3/4 cup each of APF and WW and stir the mix until you have a good moist, not wet wet, consistency.  Spoon the mix back into a clean jar or other container and put it on your counter opened, or sometimes I take it outside on a cloudy day and leave it open for an hour or so to try to obtain local wild yeast.  Just make sure it doesn't dry out and that gnats have not gotten inside because they love the fruity and alcoholic smell of this stuff.


Bring it back inside and check to see how much it has risen.  I also either put a piece of tape at the initial level that it was when i put it back in the container or a magic marker line drawn around the jar at the initial level.  This helps me gauage how active the starter is.  If the starter either doesn't rise much in a few hours or not at all, I will refeed again using the same procedure, but this time let it sit overnight on your counter.  Be certain to put it on a plate because my starters will run over the side if left overnight on a counter, not so if put in a fridge--well, sometimes they do.  If you still do not get a good rise and do not smell the fruity almost alcoholic odor of the starter, feed it again and wait 24 hours.  The key here is to just be patient.  It will work.  Let me know how it's going, Jeff.


Bernie Piel

jeffy1021's picture
jeffy1021

My starter was the consistency of thin batter so yes, I guess I would say it was liquidy.  Yes, I was using tap water, I do have a water filter and will use that in the future.  Yes, I was using a 50/50 mix of WW and bread flours to feed my starter.


 


I will try to feed it as you suggested to the consistency of a thick batter and wait to see more rise.


 


Thanks for the help.

BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

Jeff,


There is another website that I went to when I first got serious about making bread called breadtopia.com.  There is an excellent video there to show you how to mix starter and what the consistency should look like.  Check it out.


If you have too much water, then your yeast probably doesn't have a lot of food to grow on.  So I would suggest taking 1 cup of your starter, half a cup of spring water, one full cup of both APF and one cup of WWF.  You don't want to lose the yeast that you have started, it's just that its not a strong culture because of the volume of water.  The yeast that are there will feed off of the two types of flour and this time you will have more flour than water to give them a chance to grow. 


Let me add this, if your starter smells bad, rotten, in fact, start all over; throw out the old.  The bad smell is indicative of other microbes that you really don't want or need.  But, without that smell, continue to use it and see what happens and above all else, BE PATIENT.  You'll be baking great sourdough in no time.


Bernie Piel

jeffy1021's picture
jeffy1021

So I fed my starter last night and by this morning it had already more than doubled in volume.  It seems to be active.  Does it matter how much starter I need to keep?  I have been discarding all but a few tablespoons of starter and then feed it maybe 1/3c to 1/2c of flour and just enough spring water to make a thick batter. 


Also, I realized that last time I did not mix the leaven with the water to evenly distrubute it before I added the flour.  That might have screwed me over too.  I guess it did not occur to me since you do not need to do that when you use commercial yeast.  It was also my fault for not following each step carefully.


I am thinking about attempting the recipe again later this week doing the bulk ferment slowly overnight at a cool temperature, and proofing in the refrigerator during the next day so it will be ready to bake by the evening on the second day.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

 


Here's the result:



Very open crumb with thin crackling crust, not surprising since the dough is 77% hydration (he says 75%, but he doesn't count the 100% starter). I am very impressed by the moise and sweet taste. I retarded the dough after shaping, there's still very little sourness, but not boring at all, the sweetness of the flour really comes out strong.


 


I will do a blog writeup later next week, but can't wait to share!

BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

What a great pix of a superb loaf.  The crust looks excellent, as well.  I can smell the loaf here in Tulsa!  Just wish i could taste it, too.  How did you handle the additional 50 g of water that he mentions with the 20 g of salt.  Did you add all of the 50 g, or just part of it?  Just beautiful, thank you for sharing.  I think Chad Robertson has a winner with this recipe.  The last loaf I baked had been retarded for 12 hours and it tasted wonderful.  So how do you think the flavor compares to other country loafs that you baked, Slyvia?

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Yes, I uesd all 50g of water - but then I in the "the more water the better" club. ;) My post is up here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/19952/tartine-basic-country-loaf-just-pour-all-water-and-stand-back


 


We love the sweet and moist taste, sweeter than most of other country loaves I have made. BTW, I can see why he asks reader to bake it in a cast iron dutch oven thing, with such a wet dough, that would prevent spreading during the first part of baking. I baked them freeform on my stone, whith good results, but you can see the spreading somewhat.

Gingi's picture
Gingi

and it's not an exaggeration to say that yours looks better than the once in the book!

jeffy1021's picture
jeffy1021

So this is definitely an improvement over the brick I baked the other day.  I mixed my leavin in the morning and it doubled by the time I got home from work, definitely more than the 20% recommended in the book.  I mixed the dough using 68o water, did a couple S&F (four times every 30 minutes for the first two hours), and did the bulk fermentation overnight for about 10 hours at 64o.  I shaped and divided in the morning and retarded the final rise in the refrigerator and baked it tonight after coming home from work.


The flavor of the loaf was surprising not that sour given the long fermentation and retarding the final rise.


Any idea how how to make the holes more evenly distributed?  More S&F maybe?


BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

Jeff, that brings a smile to my face.  I don't know how you can manipulate that nor would I want to.  The bread looks great, I'm glad I was able to hlep you pull off a really great looking loaf.  Now go out and post this on your own start up listing and get ready for some great accolades, you deserve it.  If you want the bread to be more sour, I personally don't prefer that, just let your starter ferment a little longer, use more of it and do a longer bulk rise and a longer fermentation--24 hours will work, especially if you use more of your leaven.  Jeff, these look really great and you should be ecstatic.  If they tasted great and look great what more could you want?  There are ways to manipulate taste but I'm not that knowlegeable about that.  I've just read some of Peter Reinhardt's text that reference being able to do that, the Tartine Bread author also mentions it and they reference a frenchman Calvel, the modern guru of french bread making, as one who developed ways to orchestrate the taste of bread through times, temperatures, percentages of water, flour types, baking temps and times, and so forth.  That is your challenge as a baker to find the complex equation of these elements that creates your ideal loaf.  Happy Baking.


Bernie Piel

marybeth.abarbanel's picture
marybeth.abarbanel

I baked my first tartine loaf, carefully following every step.  I did the bulk fermentation in the warmed and then cooled oven so that it was more or less 80F.  My final rise was 12 hours in the fridge.  Where should I start trying to improve this?  Longer bulk fermentation?  Longer final rise?  Other ideas or suggestions???  I will post a picture but I am not sure if it will be visable next to this blog note, I am new at blogging

 

marybeth.abarbanel's picture
marybeth.abarbanel

would like to post a photo of this but not sure how

 

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Have you checked the "FAQs" in the links at the tops of the pages.

Click on "FAQs", then click the "Posting Photos" option. Pretty good guide there, espcially Debra Winks step by step intructions.

You will need to know how to save photos on your computer, how to access them, and there's some probability that you will need to know how to "resize" the images so they are not too large for the forums servers. Another option is to use links to your photos saved a photo sharing sites like Photobucket, Picasa, etc, as some have found it be easier if they are already familiar with that method. The FAQs also explain how to link to photos saved at such sites.

Good luck.

ajrosen's picture
ajrosen

i got john Hedh's book on artisan bread an he uses a french raisin starter and it is very effective it goes something like this

2 cups of raisin 1 cup of sugar and 3 cups of hot water then soak for 9 days in a sealed container till they smell like alcohol drain and keep juice in fridge for months and its my best new starter starter. I just add 2 cups flour and 1-2 cups of flour depending on hydration desired then mix and let it ferment an its the most amazing starter i have made so far and i have made his apple starter too but not as dramatic and as long lasting