Tag Archives: sourdough

Beetroot dip


The beauty of having a fruit and vegetable box delivered each week is never knowing quite what we are going to be eating.

Even better is when your friend also has a box but doesn’t like something so willingly leaves you with a handful of fresh beetroot!

Shake isn’t the biggest beetroot fan and I didn’t really want to deal with the mess/stains with C so I selfishly ate them all myself :) Have to admit the colour also cheered me up on some miserable grey days this week.

Beetroot dip
serves 1 for lunch for 3 days (or one large bowl)

Beetroot, roasted (I had about 7 small)
3 tablespoons yoghurt (I used Greek)
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all to blender and process until you achieve the consistency you like.

Mine wasn’t completely smooth, but I liked the occassional chunk of beetroot.

Serve with crudités to dip or on toasted (sourdough) bread for a simple lunch.



Pain Poilâne meets Tartine Bread

They say a baker’s score is their signature, and my initial A actually works quite well as a cut. (Plus you can call it anarchy bread if you’re that way inclined)

I’ve been baking daily using the Tartine Bread method and I’m really pleased with the results. Each day I’ve been trying a different mix of flour, starting with the suggested 90% white / 10% wholemeal, testing varying amounts of white flour, grey flour, wholemeal and rye (up to 10%). The technique holds up well for all these combinations, so I decided to push on with my original goal of producing something similar to a Pain Poilane.

The snippet I had from Wikipedia was that Pain Poilane is 70% grey flour and 30% spelt, which was as good a starting point as any. I found spelt flour (farine d’épeautre) at one of the Bio stores nearby, but was a little put off by the price (over double the cost of wheat or rye).

Due to the extra expense of the spelt flour, a part of me was hoping the difference in taste would be negligible (as the recipe was tasting pretty good already). But it was a hit, and has had the best reviews from all the family. So great for the taste, but a shame about the price. Now I need to find a local mill that can offer a better price if I’m buying larger quantities.

Collapsed a little due to (forgetful) overproofing, so the crumb is tighter than planned

Tartine Bread: simplified recipe notes

Worth the effort. This sourdough is made from the Tartine Bread recipe.

This isn’t much use on it’s own, but I’ve seen a few people find this site when looking for Tartine Bread so I thought I’d share my notes for any one else baking from the same recipe.

I mentioned in the past that the book is pretty confusing to follow (though well worth the effort), so I ended up writing these notes out on a piece of paper that I keep in the front of the book.

If you haven’t already read the book, do that first as this is deliberately in note form. And for those of you who’ve read it, I hope this helps.


- 1 tablespoon of starter
- 200g 50/50 white/wholemeal flour
- 200g water

1) Mix
2) Cover
3) Wait 12 hrs


- 1000g flour (900g white, 100g wholemeal)
- 700g water, plus 50-80g (work up to 80 for increased hydration %)
- 200g leaven
- 20g salt

1) 700g water in bowl, add leaven and stir
2) Add 1000g flour, mix and leave for 25-40 mins
3) Add salt plus 50g-80g of additional water, mix by hand and transfer to glass bowl
4) BULK RISE (3-4 hrs at average temperature. Adjust time and taste by managing temperature)
5) During bulk rise, turn every 30 mins for first 2 hrs
6) BENCH REST dough onto work surface, flour, cut, flip, fold and rest for 20-30 mins
7) SHAPE and place in rice flour dusted baskets
8) PROOF (3-4 hrs at average temperature. Adjust time and taste by managing temperature)
9) Pre-heat combo-oven/tagine at 500F/260C
10) Dust base of loaf, flip into base of combo-oven
11) Cover, reduce to 230C and bake for 20 mins
12) Uncover and bake for 20-25 mins


Shake out.

The value of homemade bread

My first loaves from the new proofing baskets

While (barely) awake at 5.30am and mixing dough I had a panic about the amount of flour I would get through if I continued baking my current recipe every day. It would be about 7kg per week, costing about 10 Euros.

10 Euros felt like quite a lot, given our weekly food budget is about 35 Euros. So I did a few sums. Slowly.

I’m making 2 x 1kg loaves per day. One of these is for us, and the other goes to the in-laws or other visitors. So to start with I can halve the 10 Euro cost as only half of it comes from our food budget, the other half is a form of rent :)

Next I looked at the bread I could buy with 5 Euros, and a 1kg boule from a decent bakery is about 4.50 Euros. And if I wanted organic bread (the flour I’m using is both local and organic) this would cost even more.

So each day, my costs are about 1.60 Euros (including a little for electricity) and the bread made has a commercial value of about 10 Euros. Over a week, that’s about 11 Euros costs, for roughly 70 Euros value.

In terms of the hands-on time working the bread, this works out something close to minimum wage so an economist would tell me that my hours are better spent earning my wage as a web developer and buying the bread instead.

But the economist doesn’t have useful metrics for pleasure, self-satisfaction, resilience, creativity, learning, the smell of bread baking as you work in the afternoon, or the lessons you teach your children when you show them how to make things with their own hands.

Given the numbers, and the things that don’t have numbers, I think I’m in profit.

Shake out.

This posted has been submitted to Yeast Spotting

Sourdough à la Tartine (and a review of the book)

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.

Starting a sourdough starter à la Tartine

A super birthday book

Though sourdough is an art for the patient and I wasn’t planning to experiment with it again until we were in France, I started reading Tartine and simply couldn’t help myself. This book is a late addition to the lovely birthday books for simple living I posted about recently. The stunning pictures of bread are so tempting it reminded me of this: ‘Jim loved your card so much he ate it‘.

I’ve toyed half-heartedly with sourdough in the past, but never quite worked it into a 9-5 lifestyle, so I’ve mostly been baking with yeast. I’m looking forward to our new simpler way of life that deliberately makes time for good food like this. Food made the way it was meant to be made. Though it’s another example of simpler not being the same as easier.

Mixing the flours - note: black and white photo, à la Tartine :)

I have a feeling this book may play a formative role in my quest for the perfect sourdough.

Shake out.