Tartine Basic Country Loaf -- a serendipitous affair
The baking bug bit me about six weeks ago. Started with banana bread, baked two loaves of yeasted bread in my lodge cast iron loaf pans, moved on to making pizzas and then tried my hand at sourdough -- ciabatta, english muffins and english muffin bread and even a "basis sourdough loaf" that I read about in a Jane Harrison's "An EasyGuide to Sourdough" which contains weird volume measurements: 2 cups of flour, 1.5 cups starter, 3/4 tsp of sale. No added water in the recipe but always needed to add water in order to form a dough.
I read a lot about the no-knead breads and wound up buying Tartine. I read the directions for the basic loaf about 7 times before making it, but there is no substitute for experience.
First, after making the leaven, I forgot that I only needed 200grams of it, and used the entire amount made. I am sure I am not the first person to do this, as the recipe is, shall I say, a bit wordy and could use with some bold print here and there.
After I mixed the dough and hunted around for a place to pour it, I kept wondering how the heck it could be put in a small container Let me tell you, it was a LOT of dough with the extra 200 grams of leaven! But I would be damned if I was going to throw away all of that flour, so once I figured out what I did, I just shrugged and carried on. The dough was very heavy, but it was not sticky at all, at least by the time the first turn was there.
I have to say the recipe is not well written. Or at least, i did not find it so. He says the bulk rise should be for 3-4 hours and that he turns the dough ever 30 minutes for the first two hours. Well, that leaves 1-2 hours with no directions. Do I turn, do I not turn? He mentions that by hour three the dough should feel pillowy when turning but doesn't say how often one is turning by this point.
In any case, I figured if peasants can do it, I don't have to do everything exactly the way anybody else does it and hopefully it would come out passable.
I found the pictures to be very well done but very poorly situated. It would have been a lot better, in my opinion if the walls of text were separated by the appropriate pictures instead of random pictures interrupting the text. I may be too harsh here and maybe they are in exactly the right place, but I feel like I would benefit immensely by photocopying the chapter, pictures and all, and rearranging the photos to merge into the text better.
Anyhow, after shaping (pretty much did it wrong, didn't cut flip and fold, but instead, cut flipped and shaped into a ball/disc) i put the dough into the mixing bowl, lined with a tea towel/bar mop sprinkled with the 50/50 rice/wheat flour (I made the rice flour in my blender), let it rise at room temperature 70 degrees or so, and then dumped one loaf into the skittle -- forgot to score it, took the dutch oven out of the oven, covered the skittle and baked for the appropriate time, removed and continued the bake.
No, bread did not explode. I used the other portion of the dough to make a pizza crust. What I found AMAZING was the elasticity of this dough. It stretched into an enormous pie immediately and without any effort.
Anyway, the pictures show the final product, and they tasted quite good. The bread was cut the following day and the pizza finished off the following day. I need a peel, as what I did was really dangerous and I won't do it again that way in the future...
Pizza dough pre-baked: