The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

To TxFarmer et al: Tartine book arrived..... awesome!

SallyBR's picture

To TxFarmer et al: Tartine book arrived..... awesome!

I have a legendary bad luck with the post office, but this time it was not their fault.   I forgot to change my address with for the Tartine order, and it went to my 'former home" - but instead of being forwarded to me, for some reason they returned to and I had to buy it again  (sigh)


still, it is finally here, and what an amazing book it is!  I am not sure I should make my first bread here or wait until I get home to my oven in a few days -  but I'm definitely looking forward to baking from it.


TxFarmer, thanks for "twisting my arm" to get it... :-)

txfarmer's picture

I am glad you got the book and liked it! Now I can't wait to see your breads!

dosidough's picture

I got my copy a week ago. What a beautiful book it is! I've had almost a years hiatus from most bread baking, but I need to get my starter back up and running. It's about an 85% hydration, kept in the frig and produces loaves with a definite sour tang. Tonight I'm going to use the discard to convert to the Tartine white and wheat mix. I figure since my starter revives in 3  12 hour apart feedings I can get a jump and maybe try the country loaf Monday. Do you think this will work or do I need to do the whole week's worth of building from scratch?

My negative on this book is the "take a handful of flour..." at the beginning of the levain instructions. It just really put me off. So I'm looking to compromise using the established starter. I think the mix of flour and room temp storage will change it's intensity.

My experience with "pot" baked breads is that they always seem to spread rather than rise. That was with a 5 qt. cast iron DO. So I got a smaller 3 qt. enamaled cast iron one with somewhat better results. I was thinking to use this smaller one,...adequate size?

Everything right now is with fingers crossed, as the oven needs a new thermostat. But any decent result will peak my enthusiasm.

Take care and bake on....


SallyBR's picture

Any decent result will peak my enthusiasm.... That is exactly it!  You said it all...


funny, but in my work in the lab, that applies too!  ;-)


I look forward to your adventures with Tartine, I envision a weekend reading a lot of it, and hopefully soon will make my first bread from the book.

dmsnyder's picture

I'd say if you have time to put a 50/50 AP/WW starter through a couple of feedings and if you have a Dutch Oven to bake in, just do it!

The Dutch Oven should buffer any ill effects from a marginal oven, as long as the temperature of the oven is within your control.

I'm glad you like the book. As with Daniel Leader's "Local Breads," I can recognize "Tartine Bread's" limitations and still love it for it's strengths - one of which happens to be the wonderful bread Robertson's formula turns out.


ww's picture

can't wait to see your loaf, bet it'll be gorgeous as usual.

Mine are cooling beside me. I 'followed' the formula with 2 important differences: i used a fully developed leaven and not the 20% growth one that i think Chad advocates. Secondly, lacking a Dutch oven, i used a Chinese claypot instead. So does that still count as an attempt? :) Imperfect as it is -  my shaping and slashing are horrendous as always - the dough smelt very very nice as it was developing and i can't wait to taste it.

This was also an experiment to compare pot baking vs your towel method. I attempted this juggling act bakign one in a preheated claypot setting on an oven stone with a cast iron griddle as lid, and another one directly on the stone. After abt an hr of preheating, i loaded steaming towels onto the cast iron griddle as well as a cake tin that had also been heating up inside, then loaded one loaf into the claypot, replaced the griddle lid, loaded one onto the stone and poured more hot water onto all the towels (3 in all). As you can see, it was all quite precarious and i was getting quite confused myself. 

Results are:

1. the claypot is no substitute for cast iron i'm afraid. I had my doubts that the claypot gets as hot as cast iron but went for it anyway for the sake of experimentation. Indeed it baked up less brown than the one on the oven stone and had less oven spring.

2.on the other hand, your towel method really works! I could have singed my eyebrows! what makes it different from the ice cubes and boiling water method is that the steam is sustained thanks to the towels. Thus my nicknaming you Sally full-steam (also for your intense baking!) :))

with this attempt, i was also reminded of how important it is to observe and follow the dictates of the dough. I wanted to do more S&F but thought i should stick to the instructions as much as possible. Also it was already 2 in the morning.. another lesson there, don't try things late at night but i think this particular lesson will never be learnt ..

happy baking!


SallyBR's picture

Gosh, I don't know what to say..... I love the Sally-full-steam, and believe that my husband would agree with the nickname, particularly while I'm in the golf course - that's when the full steam is produced at the highest level, believe me...


but, I have to say that I was not the one who mentioned the towels - I remember seeing this tip here a while ago, but I cannot take credit for it...


Great to know that it works so well, I might have to try it myself in my regular oven

LindyD's picture

JoeVA (Giovanni) first introduced the towel-in-the-pan-steaming in his June blog and included a couple of photos:  

SylviaH then wrote about her great experiences and included even more photos:

(Sorry, but I just couldn't get the HTML to work and do underlined links)

To give them both the credit due for sharing this nifty technique, the best short tag I could come up with is "GioSylv"


SallyBR's picture

You found the source.... GioSylv it is!    ;-)

dosidough's picture

Converting my starter worked just fine. Instead of Fri I started it Sat a.m. so it got 3 healthy conversion feedings before I built the levain Sun p.m. This was the first time I have done everything by hand;  kind of a primal rush, with a little eeeww factor :) This is an intensive bread on the attention level.  When the loaves reached the final shaping and into the bannetons I put 1 in the fridg for an hour  so it would be ready to pot right after the first one finished. I had a gigantic mishap with the first loaf. I tried to plop it into the hot Dutch oven from the banneton but it stuck a little snagged the side of the pot and kind of summer saulted in on its side. I shoved it into a round as best I could but there was no way this could be scored. To make things worse I couldn’t get to it when the last timer went off and it is much too dark...crust tastes burnt. It’s got some interesting fake ears from sliding down the side of he pot. LOL
The 2nd loaf went off much better. I used a small metal peel inverted over the banneton then flipped it together so the dough could ease out with the aid of gravity then angled it over the Dutch oven an it slide off nicely. This one was hard to score, factor of the depth of the Do and the wetness of the dough. I got some decent spring anyway.
The crust was very crisp and the crumb was just beautiful. Creamy moist with a spongy kind of a chew.  A pure delight. (Quick hand me that bottle of truffle oil) And no hint whatever of sour. This surprised me because my starter is assertively sour and past attempts at other conversions still bake off as a sourdough; sometimes mildly so but always with some sour note. This bread has none.

Here’s the pixs:

Weird photo...they look like they’re hovering. Strange light off the enamel surface. The first  loaf is to the right.

Here’s a crumb shot of the 2nd loaf, the better of the 2.

The crumb is about the same on the 1st darker loaf but I just don’t care for the burnt taste. Maybe croutons with the crust removed.

For whatever problems exist with the text I think Mr. Robertson's easy style is encouraging. The step by step photos are good. If you’ve never gotten that  hands on before,  i.e. up to your elbows without a spoon it can seem daunting. This is a relaxed hey-you-can-do-this not overly technical approach and it’s kind of refreshing.

All the best to you and ...Bake on!

Franko's picture

Hi Dosi,

Forgive me for replying to your comment addressed to Sally, but I thought I could offer a suggestion on an easier and safer way to use your dutch oven. The DO that we have has a knob type handle on the lid, so of course it won't lay flat on the oven racks. I found an old spring-form pan that we never use and took the bottom part out and laid the lid of the DO on the ring of the spring-form which was just high enough to suspend the lid handle above the oven rack. This allowed the lid sit in an even position.

This makes it much easier to get the proofed loaf into the DO, and clear access for scoring. I put the bottom of the DO over top of the loaf and baked it as per the instructions. I had to remove the top rack so there was enough clearance to remove the bottom (now the top) of the DO, but this way makes it much easier to load the dough into the DO. It seemed a better configuration to me for a bread to bake from the widest part of the pot, and give it more room for expansion on the sides. Just a suggestion, but hopefully you'll find it helpful for next time.

Your bread looks great! Especially the nice translucent crumb and rich crust colour.




AnnaInMD's picture

springform and place the whole works into the DO.  ;)


SallyBR's picture

Absolutely AWESOME!!!!!


I want so bad to bake my first bread from this book, can hardly wait!  But, next week will be it!


Loved your loaves, you do deserve a huge bottle of truffle oil of the highest quality!