First try at Tartine County Bread. Success!
I started baking sourdough just about two years ago. In the past two years I've made a lot of bread, and have worked on refining techniques with just a few basic recipes. I've moved toward higher hydration dough. I've worked on my loaf forming techniques. I've discovered the impact that proper loaf slashing can have on the outcome of the bake. And I've played with a half dozen techniques for getting steam into the oven during the bake. In the past few months my bread has been pretty good!
Then, about 6 weeks ago I found myself in San Francisco, and decided to make the pilgrimage to Tartine to see what all the fuss is about. Yeah. That's good bread! While I was there I picked up a copy of Tartine Bread, and sat in my hotel room that night and read it cover to cover. When I returned home a few days later I had an Amazon box sitting on the doorstep with my new cast iron combo cooker. I started on a new whole-wheat based starter that afternoon. Last night I deemed the starter ready for prime time, and started my first build.
Today I took my first swing at Tartine Country Bread. It turns out that not only can Chad Robertson make great bread, but he knows how to describe his technique damned well too! When I pulled the first loaf from the oven, I was dumbstruck! The dark shiny crust! The blistering that has evaded me for the better part of two years! The open soft crumb! I'm a believer.
I'll take that for my first attempt! And the requests are already rolling in for more bread.