The Tartine method is how I got started in sourdough baking and is still the basis for most of my sourdough loaves in its intention of making a open crumb bread with a less sour flavor. Lately I had been playing it safe by keeping the hydration at 75% and not risking over fermenting. I have made good bread with a poorly maintained starter but I had become sloppy and careless with my starter during the winter doldrums and my bread was losing some luster. Instead of just making my usual bread this time I attempted to make The Tartine country bread with the new to me info from one of their bakers. Jennifer Lathams Intagram version with a double fed levain. I intend to get the audio only version of the book she and Chad put out recently. It no longer includes the leaven in the autolyse and salt is not added until enough water has been incorporated to make a very extensible dough. The additional water is added in stages by feel alone and is not measured. The dough ends up so loose that gentle shaping using the stitching method (which I suck at) is required. The final shaping is more like another pre shape as the dough is folded in half as it is placed in the basket. Her series of videos are worth watching for little tips I picked up along the way, like how much tension to put in the in the pre shape and flouring the top of it instead of the bench before shaping. It also helps to see just how the dough should look in general.
This loaf is 10% home milled winter wheat with the large bran bits sifted out and Wheat Montana AP. Total flour is 500 grams. The hydration ended up somewhere just above 80%. The double fed levain with timely folding did seem to goose the fermentation and increase the overall volume. I followed her advice and rather than bake straight from the fridge like I usually do, I took it out while the oven and stone heated up and it seemed to be more relaxed before baking with good oven spring.
Once in a great while I feel certain that I hit the sweet spot on fermentation. For me that means the dough is on the verge of going past the point of no return. It has a glossy, soft crumb and a crust that is not hard but a joy to chew. On those rare occasions the flavor, texture and the crust are truly at their best and the toast it makes is next level stuff. I just wish it wasn't so elusive and diminished my other decent bakes so much so that they seem not quite right.
The folded in half shaping changed the pattern of crumb from the circular method. The crumb may not be quite what I wished it to be appearance wise but it is still a very satisfying bake.
I don't like to heat up the stone and stove for just one loaf, so a rack of Boubsa baggies was prepped and baked to be eaten right away.
Our chickens have decided that the worst of winter may finally be over and are laying eggs again. I hope they are right. Eggs without a dash of hot sauce. I don't think so.
Happy baking and may the vaccine find you all.