The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tartine Basic Country Bread

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Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

Tartine Basic Country Bread

When I heard the forecast last night for ice storms, I figured I'd be house bound today so I may as well bake some bread (I'll use any excuse!).  I made Tartine's basic country bread.  I follow the book fairly closely, but I do deviate a bit in some of the technique.


Since no room in my house is between 75 and 80 degrees F, I improvise my own proof box using a cooler.  Microwave a cup of water in a pyrex measuring cup and place it in the cooler.  A probe thermometer allows me to monitor the temperature inside the box.  Although I cover the proofing baskets with a towel (removed the towel for the photos), the hot water creates a nice humid environment so there's no risk of a skin forming on the dough.  I'm not comfortable letting the dough free-fall into a 500 degree cast iron dutch oven so I use a parchment paper sling.  An added benefit is it allows me to score the loaf without exposing my hands and wrists to the hot dutch oven.  I'm fairly pleased with how these came out, although as you'll see in the crumb shot, some of the holes in the crumb are a bit too large.  I focus on handling the dough so gently, maybe I need to get rougher?


My Proofing Box Unmold onto parchment sling Getting better at scoring Lid off after 20 minutes Lid off after 20 minutes Today's Breads Mouse hole?


 

totels's picture
totels

Your loaf looks amazing.


Having been to Tartine and purchased many of their loafs, I can confidently say that they love big holes in their crumb(Just look at the loaf on the title page, or p 78, 81, 92). If you don't like it so much, it's worth experimenting on when to get aggresive to squash those bubbles, let us know what you find.

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

Thank you very much for the compliment. You're right, some of the crumb shots in the book do show very large holes! :)

grandma's picture
grandma

I have been trying to make Tartine like bread for a few weeks now and I've just not had real success with it.  Some of the comments indicate that maybe I'm over proofing so I will try to cut back on that and see how it goes.  But I have not seen anyone comment on the leavin floating in room temperature water as he indicates in the book.  I've had that happen only once.  Do you use that as an indicator?  Or do you simply let it rest for 12 hours and then proceed?  Thanks so much!

totels's picture
totels

I have used the float test successfully for both my sourdough leaven and the poolish. I think they key to working with Tartine recipes is to pay attention to your dough based on what is described as desireable traits in the book. The times are merely baselines that work in controlled tempreature and humidity conditions, you need to adjust to fit your environment or change the environment for your dough/leaven.

grandma's picture
grandma

Last night, for example, my kitchen was very chilly, about 62 degrees so when the leavin did not float this morning I thought it needed more time due to it being so cold.  It did not float all day but the leavin looked so bubbly and alive.  I can't believe it wasn't ready to use but then it didn't pass the float test....

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

In the winter my kitchen drops to about 64 degrees. My levain has floated every time. Hmmm. Does yours appear increased in volume and bubbly?

grandma's picture
grandma

Yes, it looks wonderful...double in volume and very bubbly.  I try to use exactly room temperature water, which in this instance is pretty chilly.  Would water temperature make a difference? 

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

Water temperature makes a big difference. Chad Robertson even discusses that in the book - how you should adjust the water temperature to compensate for a warmer or colder ambient room temperature.

grandma's picture
grandma

Sorry, I wasn't clear what water I was talking about.  I'm very careful with the water temperature for all the various steps in the process, but this time I was referring to the water temperature used to see if the leaven would float.  The book says use room temperature water and I let it sit until it becomes room temperature before doing the float test.  I am assuming the leaven and the water should be the same temperature for the float test.  I am just flumoxed as to why I fail the float test when the leaven looks so perfect.

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

Well, now I'm stumped. The only other thing I can think of is whether you're trying to float the starter in too shallow a container. If you're using a very wide bowl the water may not be deep enough for the starter to float. It's a stretch, but it's the only other thing I can think of.

totels's picture
totels

You can probably test in a bit warmer water. He constantly refers to room temp as close to 76ºF.


Also, how big of a chunk are you testing, you don't need more than maybe half a tablespoon, and you don't want to handle it too much as that will knock all of the air out of it, which is what will make it float.

tsaint's picture
tsaint

I just got the book for Christmas! And I've tried making the rye bread. I haven't used a dutch oven yet so I've just been putting it in the oven on baking sheets.


My question is about the crumb.


Your crumb looks excellent! and that's what I'm striving for. My crumb has many holes, but the actual texture is weird. The bread is sorta sticky and rubbery though it has a good taste. Maybe I just need to do it in the dutch oven..? Or is it supposed to be like that? 


 

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

Are you using some other steaming method? The Dutch oven contains the steam created when the water in the dough vaporizes. You need some method for creating steam during the initial stage of baking so that the starches on the surface of the dough don't gelatinize before the interior of the dough gets hot enough to expand and create the proper crumb structure. In the absence of steam I would think the interior would be very dense and, therefore, under baked by the time the exterior is done. The result would be a sticky, gummy and rubbery crumb.

tsaint's picture
tsaint

Oh yes, I just put a pan in the oven, and after I put the bread in I put a cup of ice cold water for steam. 

That's the strange thing, the interior isn't dense, it's very airy and chewy.. it's hard to explain. When I touch the crumb, it actually sticks to my finger. I'll try it with a Dutch oven soon. 

 

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

The basic country bread does have quite a moist crumb, but I wouldn't describe it as rubbery or gummy. If you cut into the loaf before it fully cools the crumb will be sticky and somewhat gummy.

Just as a side note, you may want to use very hot (just off the boil) water instead of ice water to create steam. It will vaporize more quickly and it won't drop the oven temperature as much.

tsaint's picture
tsaint

Thanks! I will try both. Well actually, I'll try my dutch oven next! But I'll wait until it's completely cool before cutting.. it's just so hard to wait sometimes.. :)