The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A Visit to Tartine

longhorn's picture
longhorn

A Visit to Tartine

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!


First, there is no sign! Somehow that had eluded me! Finding the bakery was not difficult but... the lack of a sign is an interesting comment by the bakers! And the pastries and sandwiches (such as Croque Messieur were spectacular!).


The real shock though, was the bread itself. Yes, the bread really is as dark and blistered and shiny as the book cover implies. I picked up my half loaf at 5 pm sharp. The crust was thick and hard and the crumb elastic and a bit tough, showing a lot of gluten development. The crumb of my loaf was not quite as open as the loaves in the book or here on TFL. 


The thing that really blew me away, though was the acid profile in the bread. Reading the book and how preparing the levain with only a tiny amount of starter had led me to anticipate a non San Francisco sourdough flavor profile but the Tartine loaf is clearly SF SD to my taste. There are, I think some SF SD that is more sour, but this is IMO pretty sour. But I also have to comment that the acidity seems uniquely clean and bright and I suspect that might be related to the minimal acid transfer from the older starter and the relatively short final expansion and proof times of the bread. 


I am really glad I was able to get some of the Tartine bread. The book definitely expanded my repertoire of bread techniques and I will definitely make use of the knowledge I have gained by following the Tartine guidelines. However, my low acid sourdough starter simply doesn't need the level of acid control Tartine follows so I will be evolving my own variations.


I will post some pictures of my loaf when I get a chance!


Bake on!


Jay


 


 

arlo's picture
arlo

Thanks for the thoughts and input on such a talked about bakery. I think it would be really nice to visit some of these bakeries, including Tartine, that are coming up on the forums.


I am surprised you felt the loaf was pretty sour. From what I have read so far and the small amount of sour used in the final dough, I find it shocking. But not unbelievable.


Thanks again!


 

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Part of the reason I wanted to post this review was to get opinions from others about the nature of his bread.


We traveled yesterday and the bread was packed so today we used it as 2-day old bread in panzanella. The acid seems to have softened somewhat. Not sure if it is age or cooling for our first bites were of warm bread fresh from the oven. Would welcome comments from others with more experience with SF sourdough. 


In the warm state I thought it was as acid/tart as any SF sourdough I have tasted. Today, it seems much more mellow. However, it is still significantly more tart than my personal SD breads...


Thanks!


Jay

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Here are the photos I took of the Country bread from the Tartine Bakery. The photos are pretty accurate renditions of the color and darkness of the loaf. I found the shininess and the blisters to be the most notable characteristics.


Loaf from Tartine Bakery


 




 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Looking at the crust, I'm struck by two things: First, it looks like it was baked at a higher temperature than Robertson prescribes in the book. My guess is that, for a boule, which takes a longer bake than a bâtard of the same weight, he lowers the temperature and increases the bake time.


So, to duplicate the darker crust (which I personally prefer), I think I'll try baking at 460-470ºF next time.


The second thing is the blisters. These usually occur on breads that have been retarded. I wonder if Robertson uses a longer and cooler proofing than prescribed in the book.


David

longhorn's picture
longhorn

The photos of the loaves you uploaded are gorgeous but his are distinctly darker and the blisters suggest to my very high heat though beyond my direct experience. When I followed his temperature guidance using my cloche I got a thick, but lighter crust (lighter than yours). I concluded that the heat release/transfer characteristics of the ceramic were likely slower than his recommended cast iron and that I would need to go to higher temps also.


I only baked my first "Tartine" loaf about two weeks ago and decided I wanted to see his loaves before trying again. 


His crust is pretty unique. As dark as it is there is no burned taste - just a LONG, LONG lasting caramelized taste.


I think the blisters are from heat in this case. I have a feeling he is not retarding - but following a routine similar to what is in the book. His description of the room temps gives me the feeling his schedule is honest. As I recall, he keeps his cast iron ovens sealed somewhat longer than the norm (seems like it was 25-30 minutes instead of my normal 15 using my cloche. I think that is creating a deep gelatinization which is then blasted by high heat when the cover is removed. I think he is effectively prolonging the steam/gelatinization in his commercial oven. I could be wrong, but my first loaves showed more blistering than my regular bread. But they weren't shiny like his bread! That shininess has to be heat/hard bake.


My plan is to take my ceramic cloche up to about 470 and hold that temp for about 20-25 minutes. Then open it and drop the temp to about 445 after ten more minutes and finish the bake at that temp. I think that will come pretty close? I will probably try this on Wed or Thurs.


WRT baking time, you have an interesting point.


The next batches should provide a lot more insights!


Thanks!


Jay

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The shiny crust comes from increased gelatinization of starch before crust forms. This is usually the result of increased oven humidity during the first part of the bake. More and longer steaming leads to shinier crust.


The bubbles are from CO2 forming under the surface of the "skin." This generally occurs when the loaves have had a very long proofing, as with cold retardation. I've never associated them with increased oven heat.


My loaves had surface bubbles too, although the photos don't show them well. I didn't retard the loaves, and my baking procedure was pretty much the one I usually use, so I'm stumped. 


David

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi David!


There are, I think, two facets to the blisters and both dough temp and oven temp can contribute in my logic... I am pretty confident that blisters form when CO2 comes out of solution in the dough (or more properly the water in the dough) faster than it can migrate to either an existing bubble or the surface. Two factors seem particularly pertinent - first the concentration of CO2 in the dough and secondly the rate of heating. Within those parameters we can get blisters by either having more CO2 in the dough (cooler temp dough) or by heating faster.


A third factor I haven't heard enough about to be certain about is the influence of gelatinization. I suspect (but it is gut feel and lacks proof) that more gelatinized dough serves as more effective barrier to CO2 migration and is likely to encourage blisters. A critical factor for this to be true would be that gelatinization can proceed faster than CO2 release from the dough and experience as a chemical engineer tells me gases like CO2 will leave solution rapidly so... Whether this is valid or not seems to come down to the balance of rates of gelatinization vs. CO2 dissolution.


The Tartine bakery doesn't have a lot of extra space and it does not appear to have any space for retarding. Having lived in the Bay Area and experienced the city fog I can accept the book's description of developing the levain at temps around 65. I can also believe that the dough is bulk fermented and proofed at bakery temp which would have risen with the commencement of pastry operations in the kitchen. If the dough is at the 80F range temp as the book indicates, that would suggest the intense heat/higher baking temps is responsible for the blisters. I think you are probably right that he starts his bread in the bakery hotter than most home bakers, say at 470 or 475. The book does have the cast iron Dutch oven at 500F and cast iron releases heat really fast compared to a WFO or ceramic...


Hope this is useful!


Jay 


 


 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello longhorn,  Thanks for posting these photos.  I visited the Bakery recently but didn't get a chance to taste the bread...it is nice though to see one of these loaves up close in your pictures. Regards, breadsong

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Sad tale, breadsong!


The bread is definitely worth experiencing!


I commend the bakery for taking orders. I called at 8:30 am and placed my order. They called back about noon and confirmed. A good plan is to get there early - say 4:30 and buy a pastry or sandwich and pay for the bread. They will have your order written on a bag and will pull the bag and write "Pd" on it so you can avoid the line at 5 to pay for and pick up bread. They seem to have a steady flow of pastry and sandwich customers so avoiding the combined line for bread and pastry seems wise!


Thanks!

coffeetester's picture
coffeetester

Even if I have to drop someone at the airport this might be worth the drive. Only an hour from home is not bad. Any other good bakeries in the South bay.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I highly recommend visiting Tartine. As an outsider now I can't comment on other bakeries. Pizzaiolo in Oakland is good for both pizza and pasta. Note my above comments to breadsong. Planning ahead will make your life easier! Please share your thoughts after you go!

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I followed up on my dialog with David Snyder when I made my second effort at Tartine bread today...


I basically followed my normal sourdough recipe, preparing a levain the evening before and mixing the final dough early in the morning. I followed the Tartine guidelines of rests and folding every half hour for three hours. Then I formed the loaves and gave them 3 hours.


The dough was a bit too wet IMO but I persevered and was rewarded by some sticking to the brotform. Other than that and being slightly overproofed things went pretty well.


For the first two loaves I set my oven to 500 and heatd my cloches for over an hour. The exterior temp was about 455 so the interior was probably a bit cooler. I would have let them heat longer but I could sense the dough beginning to overproof and with two batches to bake I decided to get started.


I dropped the oven temp setting to 470 and baked in the cloche for 20 minutes with the lid and for 15 minutes without the lid. The loaves are shown below.


My loaf and Tartine heel


My Tartine Country Boule and a heel from Tartine Bakery


I was pretty pleased by the color and blistering. I got some shininess but not as much as Tartine.


Second loaf


My loaves got pretty good rip and blistering compared to Tsrtine - and a bit of shine.


Crumb


Crumb is nice but a bit disorganized due to handling isssues from sticking to the brotform.


 


For my second batch I dropped the temperature to 460 and baked a little longer. The results are very similar except they showed some evidence of being overproofed. 


The higher oven temperature seems to create more blisters on the loaf and encourages a "harder" finish. The crumb, however was wetter and I had to pull the bread due to browning before the crust was as thick as I would like. As a result i will probably go back to 450 for my next batch. I will also either mix in a little bread flour to make it a little drier and manageable or drop the water slightly. 


Taste is very good. Getting close!


Jay


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm not sure what you mean by the crumb being "disorganized." I think you hit the crumb bullseye.


Did the crust stay crunchy or get soft?


David

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Thanks, David!


It is an honor to hear those kind words from you!


I was really pleased with the holeyness (is that a word?) of the crumb but I like it to be a bit more "streaming from the base" and it feels a bit disorganized in the photo and that loaf was pretty badly stuck so...I am expecting the loaves that didn't stick to look more "organized" (i.e. elongated bubbles rising from the base). (Maybe I am expecting too much from really wet dough?) While I tend to place responsibility on the sticking of the dough - the dough was wet enough I couldn't really get the tension I wanted and that may have contributed as well. Better forming is always beneficital!


The crust was initially lightly crunchy and will definitely soften. I think a slower bake will be better in that respect - to give a thicker crust. Based on my oven (which is obviously meaningless) I think 470 is too hot...the crust is dark before the crumb is really right (it is pretty wet and a slightly gummy (finishing temp 211) - a bit more time would be good!). The other choice is, of course to leave it in the oven longer - the proverbial "ten minutes in the oven with the door open as it cools" approach. This would be good if I were only doing one batch and didn't need to fire another batch promptly.


My main observation seems to be that I need to get the cloche hotter and the bake temperature a bit lower (but definitely higher than 435 where I typically do my bread) to match the Tartine loaf.


I should also note that the crumb was beginning to show a bit of transparency tot he web of gluten that forms the bread. It was/is really lovely!


One item I omitted above is that the bottom of the loaf is distinctly lighter than the top and MUCH lighter than the Tartine loaves which are REALLY dark and close to 1/8 inch thick crust. The cloche needs to be MUCH hotter when the dough is loaded to give a proper bottom browneing.


Obviously this is only one person's experience and opinion but...I hope you and others find my experiences useful!


My summary conclusion would be that my cloches (which are slightly warped) are leaking humidity so I am not getting the level of gelatinization I would like to have and that 450 seems to be the right range of temperature for the baking to adequately bake the interior while achieving the proper crust. The other detail I am missing is that I think the bread needs to be hit HARD with heat and my sub450 cloches were clearly not enough - need longer preheat to fully charge the cloche (or cast iron??) to deliver heat FAST. Also need good seal and humidity for gelatinization!  All things to work on!


Thanks!
Jay

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I still say your crumb looks great, by which I mean holes of different sizes randomly distributed - no areas of the crumb remarkably denser than others.


If your bottom crust was a lot lighter than the top, that's a sure sign you are correct about your baking surface needing to be heated more thoroughly. I wonder if that might play a role in the orientation of your larger holes too.


I've baked under a SS bowl and under a disposable aluminum roasting pan. I've never baked in a cloche, cast iron dutch oven or enameled cast iron oven. I suppose I should give my Le Creuset Dutch oven a try. Hmmm .... I have a very well-seasoned 12 inch cast iron skillet. I could also try baking in it, covered either with its own glass domed cover or with a SS bowl. 


I'd be more inclined to experiment with these if I were unhappy with the results I get with the baking stone and SFBI steaming method.


I'll be waiting for the results of your attempts to get a thicker crust on this bread.


David

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I like the general look of the crumb. I take the rendomness and variety as sign the dough was pretty well developed and mostly handled well. My forming was a bit lax. I would have liked the skin to be tighter (and that seems to orient the crumb) and give better loaf shape. When I cut the loaves that didn't stick (and that show more oven spring) I will get a better idea of how much the sticking affected the crumb pattern vs. shaping.


I am going to have to check my oven again. Past checks have been pretty much on target. Yesterday's slow heating of the cloche makes me think something has changed. Bottom was definitely too light - lighter than my normal bread baked at 435 without superheating the cloche - so...need t check the oven!


WRT steam I do both. I use steam for batards, baguettes, etc and cloches for boules (because I have them if nothing else). They give good results when I get them sealed well - one seals better than the other but they both work pretty well for general use. I can usually get comparable results either way - steam or cloche so rather than risk the oven window I usually opt for the cloche.


One thing is for sure about the Tartine recipe, working with 75% hydration King Arthur AP reinforces good dough handling techniques (and punishes errors)! I need to go back to baguettes again! I really enjoyed your SFBI posts and will strive to attend next year!


Thanks!


Jay