Tuesday, January 18, 2011


'The perfect child' and his wife live in San Francisco. Nearby their house is Tartine the BEST bakery ever! I've had delicious bread in the past......and am an experienced bread baker.....but theirs beats them all.

The kids gave us this cookbook for Christmas.....I've read every word.....twice or more. It's written in a conversational style...ala some of James Beard's cookbooks. It spins tales of how he and his wife became bakers, which was surprisingly interesting.

Additionally, learning his reasoning behind their specific approach to bread baking aided in the over all understanding of his process....which I might add is long with lots and lots of steps.

Mary's starter day 2

That's because their process involves working with a starter.....you're all familiar with a sour dough starters I'm sure. Well, this is similar but instead of achieving a vinegar/sour starter, their goal is to create one that is more like the sweet/sour smell/taste of overripe fruit.

It involves mixing warm water and flour (1/2 white & 1/2 whole wheat).....it ferments at room temperature until carbon dioxide bubbles form from the natural yeasts and bacteria in the air. These 'bubbles' are what makes the bread rise.....no commercial yeast is used.

This takes several days....next the 'starter' is trained to reliably rise after it's fed.....each day 80% of the starter is discarded and new water/flour is added.

More time passes.....when it's finally 'ready'....you begin more discarding and feeding, then resting, while what is now dough, begins to slowly rise. Next there's more folding of the dough in very prescribed movements, more resting and rising. (Which is not that much different from Julia Child's french bread making) Seriously....this can not be accomplished in a day unless you begin at crack o'dawn.

When ya think it's ready to be baked......it's deposited in a dutch oven pan that has been heated to 500 degrees and covered during the first half of the baking period. The idea here is that this very wet dough's moisture escapes as it quickly rises......the steam is trapped in the baking container....keeping it moist. The bread purchased from their bakery has large uneven holes in the center while the outside is crisp....and the flavor is out of this world.

After the half-way point in the baking, the lid is removed and it continue to bake to crisp the crust.
Now....what looks like a pretty good looking loaf of bread is not what it appears. It was probably about half the height it should have achieved. However, the taste was good....that is after ripping it apart since cutting it was nearly impossible because it was almost as hard as a hockey puck.

I know what I did wrong...I rushed it. 'The husband's' daily or twice daily question..."When are we going to have bread", made me not listen to my past experience. Actually, the starter was fine, but the starter dough, as it began the process of making bread, wasn't quite ready....I should have stopped then, but I thought I could coach it along.....NOT.

Like I said, I'm a very experienced bread baking and had a traditional starter that I kept going for years......however, the recipes I used were often aided by yeast as well. This one uses only the starter......so the moral of this story........Mary is trying to learn patience.

I'm back to feeding my starter to make it more reliable before I tackle another loaf. But, I see this as a really good snack during game time on Sunday.

What game you ask?? Clearly you aren't reading this blog enough?!?!

I will get back to sewing posts shortly. I've been preoccupied with making bread, bead kits for my upcoming teaching trips, as well as taking some pencil to paper for my next project.....both activities are nearly complete.


Jane Moxey said...

Hi Mary: Here's a link to the most wonderful home made bread I've ever made. It's a variation of the NY Times No Knead Bread! The vinegar and beer added to the yeast gives it a wonderful taste and texture. And you don't need to babysit it too much!! But good job on trying to be patient. This is why I've sent you this link so you have a quicker bread with guaranteed taste, texture and results!!!


Mary Stori said...

Thank you Jane....I'm familiar with the No Knead approach....and it's actually good.....but look at the texture one achieves with Tartine compared to the almost texture free quicker method. I want that chewy, huge holes and valleys to trap the butter!!

Nanette said...

Oh I know the game to which you speak. My Chicago family is all psyched. Reading you're post I'm gonna know someone who will be disappointed. Good thing I don't care for sports. I won't have to pick sides.

.Sol said...

Hi Mary! I stopped just to say hi. Nice bread!... I got the same book and I can not wait to try it my own.
happy new year!
big hugs

Ellen Lee said...

Mary, the January 2011 issue of the "Martha Stewart Living" magazine has a feature article about the Tartine Bakery and the artisan bread you describe. It includes detailed directions for making the bread plus several recipes for using the bread as it ages. Who has home-baked bread that lasts for more than a day or two?

Wendy said...

Being a stay-at-home mom for so many years, i too tried the homemade (or "artisan" as uppity places call it) bread.
But now i LOVE my Bread Machine! I put all the stuff in, and it does everything for me!
Warm, delicious homemade bread while i'm getting other things done: win win in my book!