If you need another reason to check out this new book from Tartine Bakery, just take a look at this loaf. Hellooo, good lookin’! Like Jim Lahey’s famous no-knead bread and the master recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes, this country loaf from Tartine is a hands-off, very wet, slow-rising bread. But there are some very significant differences:
1. This loaf uses a sourdough starter - Now, don’t get intimidated! The instructions for building your own starter and maintaining it are some of the best we’ve ever come across (even better than ours, honestly!). This book makes it easy and entirely do-able for anyone.
2. The dough is “turned” as it rises - Every half hour or so, the recipe has you fold the rising dough over onto itself a few times. This strengthens the gluten and helps the finished loaf hold its shape.
The loaves are baked in a pre-heated dutch oven, a technique we first heard about from Lahey’s no-knead recipe and that has proven superior for trapping heat and moisture during baking.The resulting loaf is just as you see it. The crust gets beautiful color and becomes shatteringly crisp. The bread itself has an interesting and complex flavor while its texture is chewy and soft. All in all, the loaves we’ve made following Tartine’s recipe are some of the best to ever emerge from our oven.
The instructions for this basic country loaf are highly detailed and the photos were extremely helpful as visual aids for each step. After making the bread a few times, we found that we didn’t need to refer back to the book nearly as often. It started feeling very intuitive.
We also appreciated all the tips and advice for adapting the recipe to match our schedule and personal tastes. You can slow the process down or speed it up. You can make the loaf more or less sour. You can use different flours or mix in handfuls of your favorite ingredients. The master recipe is a springboard for whatever kind of bread you might want to make.
We can’t recommend this book and this recipe enough. Whether you’re a veteran baker or just getting interested in it, this book is a good one to have on the shelf.
(Images: Emma Christensen)