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Replicating Tartine Basic Country Bread

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BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

Replicating Tartine Basic Country Bread

I've been cooking Chad Robertson's Basic Country Bread for awhile with great success. Last week I was in San Francisco and decided to get a loaf of the real thing for comparison. This is not an experience for the faint of heart: you have to order 72 hours in advance, and it is literally impossible to find parking in the neighborhood at 5 pm which is the appointed time to pick up your loaf.

But, I persisted. And was surprised to discover the loaf currently offered out of the bakery is quite different than the recipe in the book--with a darker and moister crumb, and distinctively more sour.

I brought the loaf back to New York with me and after a bit of fiddling think I'm pretty close--actually as close as I'm going to get considering the differences in flours between East and West Coast. (I used KAF)

Here are the two loaves with Chad's on the right (what remained of a huge miche):

And here's a close up of the crumb (again, mine is on the left, theirs on the right)

I like the variation better and will be making it from now on. Here are the differences:

800 grams bread flour and 200 grams whole wheat flour (vs 900/100 in the recipe)

80% hydration (vs 75% in the recipe)

retarded 14 hours in refrig at 39 degrees F to increase sourness (and match the sourness of the loaf I purchased at the bakery).

Comments

Syd's picture
Syd

Excellent job!  If it wasn't for the actual Tartine loaf being slightly squashed (presumably from its journey and/or a free hand steadying it while being cut), I might have thought they were two halves of the same boule.  Lovely looking crumb and great caramelisation of the crust.  I am sure there is lots of flavour there.

Best,

Syd

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

Maybe the Tartine loaf did suffer some travel squashing, but not very much. It was pretty sturdy!

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

I have eaten Tartine bread a couple of times and make a bread like it, too, using the 1-2-3 recipe, 10% pumpernickel flour, and more water. It always puzzled me why the Tartine bread was so different from mine, especially after I worked on his recipe for awhile and got good at making it.

Then a few days ago I forgot the bread and WAY overcooked it. Usually I set a timer and also look at the clock so if one fails, I have a backup. I went in and got on the computer then wandered back into the kitchen to a totally hard, mahogany loaf. I suspected that it was still edible, having overcooked one a few years ago in the same way, so when it was cool, we tried it. It was so close to the Tartine loaf that I couldn't believe it!

So I suggest you make a sacrificial loaf turn the oven down to 460 and then go away for, say, 45 minutes without opening the oven. See what you think and get back to me, please! (And really, your loaf looks as much like the Tartine loaves as any I've seen. Congratulations!)

Patricia

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

Maybe I should have included baking time as one of the other ways I depart from the "Tartine Bread" recipe since I do believe in a stronger bake. The book calls for 20 minutes in the covered Dutch oven at 475 degrees (having turned it down from 500 when you put the bread in) then 20-25 minutes uncovered. I do 25 minutes for the covered bake then a minimum 25 minutes uncovered, often longer. So, should I instead turn down to 460 degrees after that initial 20 minutes and just walk away at that point?

In any event, the bread does want to be very dark when you take it out, closer to black than brown. There is so much air nd moisture inside that it will loosen up as it cools.

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

I preheat to 500 then spray the bread and cover with the sprayed magic bowl and turn down the oven to 460 (sometimes). I take off the bowl at 15 or 20 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf and continue to bake for another 20 minutes. The one I forgot baked for at least 45 more minutes. I think the lower temp will enable the bread to cook longer and not get as blackly burned as a longer bake 475. My suggestion is just to try  for an incredibly dark crust, because it so resembles the bread I've had a Tartine. I wish I'd taken a picture.

If you try it, will you post one? I'm baking today for a party, so perhaps I'll put one up.

Thanks,

Pat

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

... however it will be a few days because of Christmas then some travel after. How about this: I'll make the bread in my Dutch oven with my 90/10 flour mix, you with your magic bowl and the pumpernickel flour? (And by magic bowl I'm assuming a great big stainless bowl turned upside down on a stone or preheated sheet pan, yes?) Both using the 500 degrees for 20 minutes, then down to 460 for an additional 45 minutes?

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Yes. However, because I use a Fibrament stone and the bottoms tend to burn at 500, I turn down to 460 immediately and keep it there. Also, with the Magic Bowl (See Susan's Magic Bowl on this site), you spray both the bread and the inside of the bowl.

Stay tuned!

Patricia

 

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

In response to the request/suggestion from pattycakes, I experimented with a very strong bake of my Tartine Basic Country Bread variation in which the load was baked for 25 minutes covered in a dutch oven at 475 degrees, then the cover was removed and the loaf baked another 45 minutes at 460 degrees. Here's the result:

The loaf looks great, just a tiny bit of char in a couple of spots (as well as snow--had to take it outside to get enough light on this Adirondack morning). But the bottom is pretty black. The crust is definitely sturdier than a typical Tartine bake but the crumb is almost the same... I would have thought the longer bake would cook out the moistness but apparently it didn't. The crust against the burned black bottom was a bit bnitter... I liked it, but most probably wouldn't.

My verdict is that it seems almost impossible to "ruin" this versatile loaf, but I'm going to stop sooner next time before the bottom gets so black. Your turn, Patricia!

 

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Congratulations on making it to Tartine and getting a loaf! I made it in October 2010 after having baked Tartine style for about 6 months. Like you (and reinforced by the books focus on "mildness") I was totally unprepared for the sourness of the Tartine loaf. Especially after using a very mild starter for years.

The loaf you bought is significantly flatter than what I purchased. The crumb and crust are right but it seems either I hit a 'high" day or you hit a "low" day, or both!

The Tartine dough is wet enough that it will remain moist at 211 degrees F in my experience. In my experience 475 in a cast iron dutch oven is too hot and will always scorch/burn the bottom too dark. A layer of parchment helps a lot if you really want to be that hot. I prefer a lower temp and longer times. As indicated above, I don't find it dries out.

Beautiful loaves though. Nicely proofed and good look!

Enjoy!

Jay

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

I also was surprised by the flatness of my Tartine loaf. (As well as its size--a true miche for $8 which I felt was a fair price.) The loaves were on a counter in individual paper bags for those who reserved them so I didn't have the chance to compare. But in any case it was fully risen, moist and delicious... and sour.

To clarify, I regularly bake in a dutch oven at 475 which the temperature specified in Tartine Bread and the bottom comes out fine. The blackened bottom I photographed was from the "burnt bread challenge" at 460 for 45 minutes. Of course, a lot depends on your oven. I seem to have pretty even heat but if most of the flame was at the bottom it might burn sooner.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

My experience at Tartine was much like yours. But I was there too early so we saw the loaves piled up in the kitchen before going into bags. As an aside, given the rather "super sour" IMO taste of Chad's loaves, no wonder he works so hard to reduce the sour. I have personally gone to a much higher leaven proportion in my first expansion to increase the tang (but it is still nowhere near Tartine's).

I am a big fan of bold baking. I really like for my lean artisanal loaves to reach 209 minimum and for wet doughs up to 211. I like the bold approach of Tartine. And of Pane Genzano which is almost black. As you indicated, ovens make a big difference and no doubt the precise nature of your dutch oven as well (thicker vs. thinner walls, etc.).  I realized that this was an experiement. 

For my Tartine-style loaves I typically go 465 and 450 with a somewhat extended uncovered bake. Thanks for sharing!

Happy New Year!

Jay

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Longhorn, I wanted to let you know about my struggles to bring bread up to temperature. As you can see by the photo I posted, my bread is boldy baked. However, because we live at 7K ft altitude, things just don't get as hot up here!

I stopped worrying about temperature and go by heft and look now.

Patricia

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi Pat! 

I have NEVER tried to bake anywhere near that high! 

Offhand, as I recall that makes water boil at about 200 F. I sympathize for the roasting of the grains that occurs at around 205 is pretty wonderful. OTOH, if you are that high you have other favorable factors in your life. We lowlanders have to enjoy some benefits!

Jay

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Thanks for the reference to pane Genzano, longhorn! That's looks like what I'd like to be baking.

Sorry it's taken so long to get my pictures up, BMF, but with the holidays and a house full o f grandkids, I had not a minute.

I baked this version of Tartine (and I call it that just because it reminds me of the bread, not because it's Chad's recipe) using discard. In that way, it resembles the 1-2-3 bread, but it has more water. I have taken to adding water after the mix if the dough seems too stiff. I judge it by how much is on the bottom of the bowl while it kneads in my Kitchen Aid. I like to see a good amount in the bottom, because when it looks like that, it's plenty wet.  I also use KA pumpernickel flour at 10-20%. I also use some diastatic malt powder from KA.

I know this recipe is rough-and-ready and relies a lot on instinct, but I'm a recipe developer, and I do take notes! I just change things, and when I get to where I can bake it with confidence, I'll write it all down. (Does that sound like a rationalization? Yes. : ) )

At any rate, this bread has a cool, moist crumb, and a crisp and caramelized crust. It's not sour at all, and when I tell people it's sourdough, they sometimes comment that they don't usually like sourdough bread. I use a combination of starters consisting of a French starter I bought online and a Tuscan starter that I made from local flour when I was in Tuscany a couple of years ago. Mixed together, they make my own Santa Fe starter. (I do keep them separate, and they have retained distinct flavors and smells.)

I bake on a Fibrament stone, 500 degree pre-heat for an hour. I slash the loaves, spray them, spray the insides of  stainless steel bowls (Susan from San Diego's Magic Bowl), load the loaves then cover with the bowls. I then turn the oven down to 460 and bake the loaves covered for 15 minutes. After uncovering, I bake for 15 minutes then turn them and bake another 15 minutes. (20 or more for a large loaf). The bottoms look almost black but taste divine, crunchy and caramelized, not burnt.

If I have a third loaf, I load it when I uncover the first round of loaves and keep two timers going. I have room in my oven for two loaves and a stainless bowl. I like my bowl, which is a Michael Graves design from Target, because it's not a large diameter, but is tall.

I will go back to Chad's recipe and do it precisely as he directs but with my baking method and then post the results.

Thanks for your feedback and results! I like to compare notes, and everyone that eats this bread loves it, so it is certainly worth figuring out!

Patricia



longhorn's picture
longhorn

I love the look of the loaf!  Arguably a touch on the dark side but we all bring our personalities and as a bold baker I appreciate where you are! It is does not look burned but seems to be pushing the bounds! Well done!

While Chad indicates his method works well for other areas, it seems that a significant number of us in other areas have arrived at significant variations of his approach. While I don't follow the book, I loved it for it is a glimpse into the mind of a perfectionist baker and his search for HIS ideal bread. I learned a lot and between that book and SFBI I am a confirmed practitioner of S&F.

Lovely loaves! I will look forward to how you react to the book method! 

Jay 

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

I actually did start out with this bread using the recipe, but had to work my way around it because I didn't get the results I wanted. I like the bake-in-the-dutch oven method, but in my oven I get better results with the stone and the Magic Bowl. I also like to use my discard as a preferment and have skipped Chad's initial pre-ferment instructions sometimes. I am now at this free form stage in the recipe, and I'm trying to roll it toward consistency and set method. That said, my bread always comes out a little differently depending on a lot of factors, so consistency may not be my forte.

Here's a cinnamon oatmeal raisin milk bread I made the same day that shows a different approach. It's a yeasted bread with plenty of fat from whole milk and butter. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/cinnamonraisinoatmealbread#comment-198663

Patricia

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

Thanks Patricia and Jay! I guess I have gotten a bit spoiled because the results are always so reliable in the dutch oven. I do have a great big stainless bowl which is a great candidate for the magic bowl method. I'd love to have a dark, dark crust like yours. Also checked the raisin bread recipe which looks delicious... unfortunately I have had to skip that whole side of the repertoire because I have a family of raisin bread-haters.

Otis

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

And Otis and Jay, do either of you know how to get a nice high profile while not being too hard on the dough with the shaping? I do a first shaping that pulls the dough into the center from each of four or five sides, stretching gently, then I let the dough sit for 10 minutes and do a second shaping that rounds up the loaf right side up by turning and tucking the dough between both cupped palms.

Also, I have had Tartine bread in the bakery and the next door bistro, too, and it was at least as dark as the bread that I bake. Larger holes, bigger loaves, and until I saw your picture, Otis, higher profile. Go figure. Perhaps they're not always consistent either! I have some photos of the loaves as they were 3-4 years ago and will post if I can find them.

Keep posting if you have some results, please.

Patricia

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi Patricia! (and Otis)

First, for Otis, I actually use clay cloches and prefer them to the cast iron for they are more gentle to the bottom of the loaf (i.e. a more uniform color comparing the bottom to the top than I get with cast iron. 

Good question, Pat. Open crumb and degassing and handling and other loaf factors are intertwined in many discussions in a way that I feel is misleading. Properly developed doughs are amazingly resilient to degassing and handling so when I hear someone suggest they are having issues with getting an open crumb and are concerned about degassing, my first quesiton is whether the dough is properly developed. If you have been to Tartine I will guess there is a good chance you are in SF with some regularity. I would STRONGLY suggest looking at the SFBI schedule and see if you can find a weekend class you can take for they will show you what properly developed dough is. The student challenge is to internalize those qualities. A good example is baguette forming which involves substantial degassing in the forming stage but still (SHOULD) yield a loaf with a delightfully open crumb. The goal is IMO a slightly ragged window - about 1/2 to 2/3 clear and about 1/3 slightly shaggy but well mixed so there are no "dry" spots.

Second is hydration.  High hydration is critical to open crumb. AP doughs can be 70% or a bit higher and still be manageable! (Thank you SFBI! :o)) Bread flour doughs can be pushing 75%. There is a good chance your hydration is lower and may be contributing. Many people seem to incorporate too much extra flour in dealing with wet doughs or simply back down on hydration, OR not develop the dough enough - because it is "too sticky". This latter especially hurts height. 

I have arrived at a theory in which I am relatively confident. I think it is possible to make lovely loaves the "no knead" way simply because the dough is never handled. The minimal mixing results in a poorly developed gluten dough that cannot tolerate handling. By plopping the dough in a Dutch oven it need not be handled. The gluten will self organize enough to retain enough gas to lift the loaf and give good oven spring, but if you tried to handle it and shape it, it would collapse in a puddle. Once we begin handling the dough and forming loaves we need a more organized, developed gluten strong enough to hold the gas. But not overly developed or it can be too strong and that too can limit rise (though it should hold shape).

Next comes forming. As indicated, this can be relatively aggressive with well developed doughs. Again, high hydration doughs will be more delicate and difficult to handle - so a level of touch is needed, but - back to baguettes - they are pounded with the heel to degas and seal the seam and can still be spectacularly open crumb and high expansion. (As an aside, in the WFO pizza world there is a great "disdain" for those who roll their pies with a rolling pin. I find the disdain humorous for a well developed, proofed dough will still give a lovely, open cornicione. Note: I don't endorse it but I don't cast aspersions either. Dough can be very resilient!) In trying to be gentle with the dough I think it is very easy to undertension the loaf. Also, I think two stage forming is often beneficial - do a preliminary shape to partially tension the loaf and let it rest 20 minutes or so. Then come back and do the final shape and tension the loaf appropriately. A properly developed and tensioned loaf - even at 70 % hydration AP - should hold shape very nicely and give good oven spring. 

Ultimately, it sounds like you are really close to the answer but that you are being a bit timid in both the development and the forming and maybe with the hydration.

Also...(here is where I diverge from SFBI) I like to bake a bit underproofed to get a more spectacular rip. Baking 15 to 20 minutes "early" may help you get more rise also. (But slighly over may give you more open crumb.)

Hope that is useful!

Good Luck!

Jay 

 

 

 

 

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

Thanks Jay and Patricia and that is indeed a tantalizing suggestion about SFBI. I lived in SF until three years ago and was never tempted to do much baking because I could just go to any market and get bread I loved. I now get back there approx 4 weeks a year total so I will start looking for a class that coincides with one of my visits. I now live in Saratoga Springs, NY which is very close to the home of King Arthur Flour in central Vermont. We can get bread flour, all-purpose and whole wheat at our local supermarket for under $3 for a 5-pound bag and I am taking a class with Jeffrey Handelman at their educational center this spring.

As for how to get the height, I just use a banneton with a lively starter and a well proofed but not over proofed dough. The example at the very top of this thread is what I get day in and day out using my variation of the Basic Country Bread recipe. I follow Chad Robertson's method for proofing the dough in which I glop out the very wet bulk fermented dough onto a cutting board, flour the up side, flip it over then fold in half to seal it, bench rest 20 or so minutes, flip it again, stretch the four sides one by one and fold into the center, then pick up this well stretched and nicely shaped loaf and plop it into the banneton. After the final fermentation I simply flip it out into the preheated dutch oven, slash as desired, then bake. As I've mentioned, I've been happy with the bottoms I'm getting... look at the crust on the loaf at the top (mine is on the left) and you'll see there's nice caramelization and no burning.)

I have made my share of no-knead loaves but I find I really enjoy the physical sensation of slapping around the 2-kilo dough you get with Chad's recipe... pulling it out of the proofing container, letting it stretch under its own weight, then turning and folding. I was a late convert from traditional needing but like any convert now I'm the biggest fan of stretching and folding.

Otis

longhorn's picture
longhorn

There are good classes in the east also from what I hear. KA has classes. CanuckJim has classes in Canada. I was making pretty well developed dough before I went to SFBI, but I learned a lot there. I think it is really helpful to see and handle a really perfectly developed dough and see what it feels like and what it can take. I love handling dough. And it opens the doors to much more interesting shapes and personalities than a blobby no knead boule!

You are clearly doing well. I don't see any particular need for lessons in your photos. I was directing my comments to Patricia since she seemed concerned about her loaves. OTOH, SFBI was so much fun I can heartily endorse it for any serious baker. You WILL leave wiser!

Bake on!

Jay

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

Are the weekend classes intensive enough to provide some real insight for a moderately experienced baker? The week long ones look great but don't see myself having that much time (or $$).

I'd love to see some comparison by folks who have taken classes both at King Arthur and SFBI. After many "sold out" disappointments I'm now registered in Jeffrey Handelman's 1 1/2 day wood fired baking class in late April; I don't have a WF oven but just want to see how the guy handles dough. The variety seems broader there and I think on a per-hour basis the prices are lower at KA than at SFBI. Some courses are obviously beginner level, others are beyond my interest level (eg how to set up a commercial bakery) but if you specifically want to make gluten-free breads, or bagels & bialys, they've got a class for that...

Otis

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I took Artisanal I. Basically you make and bake about 40 baguettes during the week using a variety of dough mixing approaches and another 30 or so loaves of other shapes (boules, epis) and types (like pan bread). (I and David Snyder and a few others have covered that course in pretty good detail.) I took it specifically for the dough mixing/handling insights and it was, I thought, superb!

You ask a great question of whether a weekend class is enough...For an experienced baker who is struggling with fine details I would think it should help you step your touch and eye (window pane) up a notch. For beginners, I am confident you would improve but in a serious environment, I would think beginners may be overwhelmed a bit. Probably better to have some failures to give focus to your class. The repetition over a week had definite benefit for me. And seeing multiple doughs come together with relatively subtle shifts in approach. And handling wet (previously nasty) doughs and experiencing how to tame them. I doubt you will resolve ALL your foibles in one weekend workshop but Jefferey H is first class and I look forward to your report on your class!

It is all about growing. I learned a lot early on just watching Peter Reinhart handle dough. (It pays IMO to watch the small details!). Getting your hands on the dough is a big step forward. I am confident you will learn a lot!

Bake On!

Jay 

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

This was an experiment with three batches. I was quite pleased with them overall, although I veered from Robertson's recipe by using rye instead of WW because I was out of it. Next time I will use the WW and see how it comes out.

Some of the loaves had a much tighter crumb than others; you can see one of them on the far right in the above shot. I baked them all on the Fibrament stone with the Magic Bowl cover. They took much longer to rise than the times alloted by Robertson because our kitchen is cold at this time of year. I worked all day to try to keep the temp up and the best I could do was 72 degrees. He asks for 78-80 or 82. It really argues for a proofing box...we'll see!

 

These slices were from the loaves that rose the longest. I started the dough in the morning and didn't bake some of them until 12 hours later!

Patricia

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi Patricia!

I read your message as an email without pictures and envisioned significantly less open crumb in all the loaves! While the cut loaf in the top photo looks dense for Tartine, the other photos look pretty close to what they could/should be.

I am a bit surprised you proofing was so slow, but...as you illustrate, it is what it is! My sourdough doesn't like colder temps either but is generally pretty happy at 75 (or 72) and if it is unhappy (not up to snuff) it can be downright slow (or worse which is why I now routinely feed 12 hours before beginning the first expansion of the levain.

I could be wrong but I believe the reasons Chad suggests the higher temp is to 1) reduce the sourness of the bread by favoring yeast and 2) to make the schedule more manageable for a commercial bakery. As I don't have a sourness issue to battle and my schedule is flexible I don't worry about proofing temp very much. Sounds like you don't either.

Nice work! Thanks for sharing!

Jay 

KMIAA's picture
KMIAA

Looks great!

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

The tight loaf is made with my discard, which I have been using in place of Robertson's leaven step. It seemed to be going much faster than the other loaves but clearly was under-proofed.

If you look at my previous bread post, you'll see that the loaf was shiny on top. I sprayed it and the Magic Bowl, and perhaps that's what made the difference, because these loaves came out dull. Time for another experiment.

Patricia

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi Patricia!

I don't spray loaves so I am used to duller looking crusts. I think they look fine!

And I am confident they taste good too.

Jay