A week after starting my starter I’ve baked my first sourdough loaf with the help of Tartine Bread.
On the whole I’m really pleased with this. The crust is a beautiful colour and the crumb is exactly what I was looking for. Most importantly it tasted great. The only issue I had was that using bowls lined with towels rather than proper proving baskets, the dough stuck and tore apart as I transferred these for baking. This meant the outside of the loaf was lacking aesthetically and the some the structure of the dough was lost. Nothing major though, and definitely something I can work on.
With our last few weekends in the UK looking busy, I probably won’t be baking like this again until we get to France, but it was a rewarding way to spend this Sunday and well worth a week of feeding my starter.
A review of Tartine Bread
Based on the result of this first attempt at baking I can only sing my praise of the Tartine recipe. I have a few gripes with the book, but still highly recommend buying it. The photos are stunning and the book is well written, but it’s seriously confusing trying to follow the basic country bread recipe. I had to read it three times and transcribe my own version of the instructions into a step-by-step guide for the actual baking event. There’s a theory in games design about needing to make something difficult enough that it feels like an achievement, but I’m not sure that applies here!
If you’re considering the book, you might like this video they made to promote it:
Steam and crust
I’d always read and heard that the importance of steam in baking was to help form a crust. This book presented a case for steam I hadn’t heard before but which sounds plausible to me. The purpose of the steam is not to form a crust, but the opposite: the steam keeps the outside of the dough wet to prevents a crust from forming at the start of the bake. In doing so, it allows the bread to better rise. Then when the steam is removed the crust can form.
Tartine in a Tagine
Finally, if you’re struggling to find a dutch oven combo cooker as recommended in Tartine – I found a Tagine works perfectly well. It can withstand the heat and has a suitably shallow base for transferring the loaf into when it’s baking hot.