So have been meaning to type some words on a lovely book I recently acquired called Tartine bread; penned by a baker called Chad Robertson and pal (who both surf so they must be good).
It’s the story of a search for the perfect sourdough in a little corner of California.
It’s both about efficiency in making that perfect sourdough (refine refine refine) but undoubtedly a labour of love with no corners cut (hand knead, hand fold, time & method).
Good things don’t take shortcuts.
There’s a lot to learn from these beautiful pages.
Reflecting on it (and trying it!), Tartine bread has a few key factors:-
A young leavain = subtle sourness
The bread made at Tartine often features a young leavain, where an older bit of sourdough culture is bulked up over a short period and not left to sour before inoculating and rising the main dough. This fresh lively bit of levain gives a subtle sourdough flavour which if proofed right (we like cold, long and strong) is well rounded. Compare this to using an old leavain bulked up over a long period (say overnight) which gives a strong “I’m a sourdough and proud of it” flavour.
A wet leavain = amazing crumb
The bread made at Tartine is not for the dough shy – these are high hydration doughs. Your typical dough would be (in bakers percentages) 60%, which is easy to work and gives a good crumb. Tartine doughs are 70% and upwards! But as a fellow tweeter put (sorry I forget who) the wetter the better, as you get a mighty open crumb (I.e. lots of holes!)
A dutch oven = a DIY wood oven environment
Tartine definitely pushes the wood fired oven mindset of the perfect environment to bake the perfect sourdough. But not everyone has a wood fired oven (us included, but not for long….) so it suggests a Dutch oven (I.e. bake your loaf in a closed environment within a domestic oven, like a le-creuset etc) to give oven spring for the first part of the bake – and let that mighty open crumb express itself. We did a Tartine test one with a dutch oven, one without – it was chalk and cheese; the Dutch oven boule achieving substantially more oven spring.
There’s way more than these three – but instead of more words from me il leave you with some pictures of some of our Tartine testing (which will be featuring in the doughies launch) – and an awesome video that captures the spirit of Tartine.