Tartine Bread: Baking while home was in a state of anarchy
I've come a long way since I first posted on TFL few months ago, attempting to troubleshoot my starter. I have now a starter with a strong leavening power and I use it to bake almost every day. My sourdough bread baking skills are improving nicely. I need to do better with my scoring and shaping skills but I believe I'll achieve good results with practising, failing, reading, watching videos, failing again... until I get the hang of it. The good thing is a failed attempt at bread baking is never truly a total failure. We still can enjoy the imperfect bread.
It was this past week though that I truly felt how I've come a long way with sourdough bread baking. Our kitchen is in a state of chaos as we are renovating it, a house guest was moving in with the help of his family and friends to stay with us for an indeterminate period of time and our furnace died on us on Thursday, with forcasted temperatures for the rest of the week at about minus 6°C (20°F) at day time and minus 18°C (minus 2°F) at night, setting our household in a state of panic to get the house heated, fast!
I have a very low tolerence to stress. I tried to shield myself from all the commotion as much as possible while contributing to the emergency at hand: Heating the house! I baked, and baked, and baked some more. At least the kitchen and the nearby living room and dining room were staying warm thanks to the oven. I also was able to lower the impact of the stress by keeping up with timing for S&F, bulk rise and baking timetables in general.
Yesterday was the climax of the state of anarchy in our home while family members of our house guest came to visit, see how he was installed and bring the last of his stuff, the kitchen floors was in its last stages of installation and we were still trying to have all 8 oil-filled radiators (temporary fix to the lack of heating system) to work all at the same time and together with other electric appliances without causing breakers to switch off.
Still baking to help raise temperature overall in the house, it's the day I chose to make, among other breads, my first Tartine loaves. I was bold and made the recipe twice, one immediately after the other. I got 4 beautiful breads as a result, not perfect of course, but still incredibly nice in the circumstances as I lost count and track of S&F timing, which dough I made first and which was last, when started the bulk rising and widely varying temperature in the kitchen, ranging from 17°C to 27°C (64°F to 81°F).
Here's one of the Tartine Loaves shot on it's best profile
And here's the same Tartine bread showing its less desirable features, i.e. fewer holes towards the bottom of the loaf:
The taste is great. The mildly acidic taste that comes with the "same day baking" rise at room temperature, the crackly thin crust, the soft lustre inside the large holes (in those that actually formed)... It's great, eventhough the crumb isn't uniform and more dense toward the bottom of the loaf and maybe this one particular loaf could have benefited from 5 or so additional minutes in the oven.
I didn't slice all the 4 loaves yet. We already ate one yesterday and I must admit I didn't had time or inclination to check how uniform was the crumb (too much activity going on).
Bottom line: I guess I'm beginning to bake instinctively as opposed as carefully following recipes and technical instruction. I relied more on the way the dough felt rather than timing and number of folds. I'm a happy levain bread baker.