The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My first go at Tartine's basic country loaf

Dukiehouser's picture

My first go at Tartine's basic country loaf

I am posting here in hopes that I can get some feedback on my first attempt at this bread. So first I will give a little background on my experience with bread making and then go into detail about my first attempt at this loaf.

Well my experience with bread making is… pretty much null. I have attempted in the past to make a basic white bread but always had problems with getting it to rise enough. Recently I started making pizza dough and have been having really good luck with it and it kind of reignited my interest in making breads.

My wife bought me the Tartine bread book for Christmas but at the time we were getting ready for our first child and I was in tax season so I didn’t have any spare time to try this out. So for the last couple of moths I have been messing around with trying to develop a starter that actually worked. About a week ago one of my new starters that I had been working on changed into this bubble sweet smelling mass and at that point I could tell that this was what I was trying to achieve.

This last Saturday I decided it was time to have a go at it (actually I had been dreaming about it all week). Now, I have stated to acquire the necessary tools but I have yet to get a scale (one is on order as I write this) so I did what any anxious person would do, I went to the internet to try to equate the weight to cups. Obviously you can see I have some much founded doubt as to weather I am anywhere near to the recipe.

I stated my leaven the night before when my starter was very mature (I usually feed it before I go to bed). When I got up it had risen a fare amount, it probably doubled but it had definitely gone past where the book recommends and would definitely make the bread sourer. I know I could have cut the leaven and added more flour and tried to bring it back to a sweet smell but I once again was too excited to finish the bread so I went ahead with the knowledge that it would be a sourer loaf. From here I followed the direction as the book stated up until I was to put the dough in the cast iron cooker. I must not have put enough flour on the cloth (I also didn’t have any rice flour) because it stuck to it. The first loaf wasn’t that stuck so I was able to leave it as it was and bake it that way but the second I had to reshape before I put it into the cooker.

Overall the color I achieved was what I had in mind along with the rise while baking. the crumb (I hope this is the right word, this is all new to me) was almost translucent and I assumed this was due to the high water content but when I looked at some of the pictures in to book none looked this way (I still wonder if it was the high water content because I didn’t have a scale and I doubt it is anywhere near the right percentages).


Any help or critique that anyone could give me would be greatly appreciated.


placebo's picture

How did it taste?

dabrownman's picture

you got most of it right for a first attempt. 

Love theat crust and the crumb is wide open.  Very nice baking!

Dukiehouser's picture

It tastes a lot better than I was hopeful for. It had a mild sourer taste to it and was overall pleasant but it wasn’t the complex flavor with the sweet aroma that is talked about in the book. I know I can fix the sour taste by adjusting the leaven (recommendation on how to know when to use the leaven to achieve a mild sweet smell would be appreciated). The thing that bothers me the most is the smooth translucent texture of the crumb. Could this be due to over hydration or maybe not folding it enough?

Thanks again for the help.

CelesteU's picture

Did you allow the loaf to cool completely before cutting into it?  Cutting into a warm loaf can adversely affect texture.  Also, I've been using AP flour rather than bread flour in the Tartine loaf.  I'm much happier with the resulting crumb texture.  Your very first loaf looks pretty darn good to me.

BurntMyFingers's picture

The bread that Chad Robertson sells in his shop is actually quite a bit more sour than what you get if you follow this recipe literally, and provides that complexity you are looking for. You've got the levain down which is the main thing. Try using 20% WWF instead of 10%... you'll probably like that better... then experiment with spelt or rye as part of that 20%.

Also, don't worry too much about reshaping if the dough sticks to your proofing device. Just dump it into the preheated cast iron dutch oven and it will reshape itself very nicely in the oven! But do go to the trouble of finding rice flour... it really makes a difference... and you can use cream of rice cereal or grind plain rice in a food mill in a pinch.

carblicious's picture

Congratulations on your first bake!   And a non trivial bread at that!

I bake the Tartine bread pretty often, but have slowly started varying the recipe.  When I bake with 100% sourdough levain, my crumb has a sheen to it.  It also has a nice satisfying chew, that's closer to the actual Tartine bread.   This is with 4 hours bulk ferment, and 8 hours final proof (house is cooler than recommended proof temp).


When I augment with instant yeast, my crumb is more tender and is not as translucent/shiny.  This is with 4 hours bulk ferment and 1.5 hours for final proof.

For many, the transluceny and smoothness is good - What is Translucent Crumb.