Tartine Country Bread

This is a very, very tasty bread recipe. I am addicted to the loaves at Tartine itself. The nice thing about this recipe is that it does not involve kneading, so it is low-stress. I consider this a work in progress and will put my reactions in the comments section.

Adapted from the Tartine Bread book

Ingredients and Tools

  • 750g water at 80°F
  • 200 g leavener / starter
  • 900g white bread flour (I think AP can be used as well)
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 20g salt
  • small bowl with 50/50 of rice flour and wheat flour
  • clear container with lid that can hold 2L – this is for proofing
  • small bowl with 2 handfuls of flour for cleaning up
  • bench / bowl scrapers
  • bread razor, Xacto razor, edge razor

NOTE: 50/50 flour is half whole wheat flour (WW), half white flour (where white can be bread or AP flour)

Feeding the stater with 200g water and 200g 50/50 flour each night. The white flour can be bread flour or AP flour (all purpose flour).

  1. The night before, take 1T of starter and feed it with 200g of warm 78°F water and 200g of 50/50 flour. Cover with a kitchen towel and rise overnight at cool temp (65°F). This will be your leaven.
  2. The next morning, check that the leaven has proofed enough. Drop it in warm water. If it floats, it’s ready. If not, let it sit for a while longer in a warm place to speed up fermentation.
  3. Pour in 700g of the warm water into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Put a handful of flour off to the side for cleaning up.
  5. Add 200g of the leaven. Stir in to disperse.
  6. Add the flours (900g bread, 100g WW) and mix (the book says by hand, but I have success with a fork) until you don’t see any more dry bits of flour.
  7. Clean your hands and the sides of the bowl with a bench scraper or spatula. I have a couple of pan scrapers which I like for the process, but we also have these bowl scrapers. Finish the job with a little extra flour. WW or AP is fine. It is MUCH better than rinsing your hands with water as you “use a gallon to do a little” as M said.
  8. Let the dough rest 25-45 min. This is to let the flours absorb the water. The dough is very different afterward.
  9. Get the bowl scraper and the clear containers and clean-up flours all set up to the side. Your hands will be a sticky mess after the next step.
  10. Add the 20g salt and 50g of warm water. Incorporate the salt by squeezing the dough between your fingers. This is a very fun part. I’m not sure why, but it feels good. Keep going for a while since the salt does not incorporate right away.
  11. Fold the dough on top of itself and put it in a clear container. Plastic or glass, the point is to be able to see the bubbles form, but it needs to be thick to keep temperature. This is the “bulk fermentation” or “bulk rise” period. This is the time when the bread gets its flavors.
  12. Place the dough to rest in a warm place for 3-4 hours (read next step, too!). That means keeping the dough at 78-82°F. I put my dough on top of a cookie sheet on top of a warming pad, and cover with a towel. You can also put a small pot of boiling water in the oven near the dough. Or warm up a pizza stone and keep it on a separate shelf from the dough.
  13. While the dough is resting, turn every half hour. To turn, wet your hand, then fold dough from the bottom onto the top. Do this 2 or 3 times to make sure it all develops evenly. Be sure to turn it more gently on the 3rd hour as it is more gasy and you don’t want to lose that.
  14. Pour a little flour (like more dashes) onto your work surface. Pull out all the dough from the container. He suggests using a bench scraper to help that out.
  15. Put a little flour on top of the loaf.
  16. Cut the dough into 2 using a bench scraper / bench knife.  While cutting, use the scraper to flip it onto the floured surface.
  17. Rotate each dough piece with your hand and the scraper to get a taut, smooth surface.
  18. Let the rounds rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This is the “bench rest”. Either put it in a place free of drafts (cold oven?) or lightly flour the dough and cover with a towel.
  19. If the dough flattens after this, shape them again. The skin was not taught enough in the first rotations.
  20. Flour the top of each round.
  21. Slip the scraper  underneath and carefully flip the dough so that the floured side is now down on the work surface.
  22. For each round: fold the closest third of the dough up and over teh middle. Stretch out the dough to the right and fold over the center. Stretch out to the left and fold over the center. Stretch the top (furthest away) third and fold toward you, over all the previous folds, then anchor in place with your fingers. Then grab the dough nearest to you and wrap it up and over, while rolling the whole thing away from you so the smooth bottom is now the top. Cup your hands around the dough and pull toward you, rounding it as you go to tighten the skin that much more. Let it rest for a minute. Then do with other round.
  23. Put in bowl or basket lined with towels that are lightly floured with the rice flour (to prevent sticking). Make sure the seam side is down.
  24. Let rise 3-4 hours at 75-80°F. Or 8-12 hours in the fridge (which yields more complex flavors).
  25. 20 min before bake, preheat dutch oven and lid in a 500°F oven. Put the other round in the ‘fridge.
  26. Pull top of the dutch oven out and place pan top on the stove, leaving the big bottom inside. Use caution, of course, since the damn thing is now 500°F.
  27. Invert dough into pan. Make 4 cuts with razor (or this razor) on the piece to allow full rise while baking.
  28. Put in oven, then reduce temperature to 450°F.
  29. After 20 minutes, take top off. No, the oven, Mr Naked-All-The-Time.
  30. Bake more for 20-25 min, until the loaf takes on a ‘deeply caramelized’ look.
  31. Place on a rack or on it’s side to allow air to travel underneath.
  32. Bring oven back to 500.
  33. Wipe out the cooker with dry towel and reheat the dutch oven for 10 min. Follow baking steps. 🙂
  34. Listen for the sound of bread crackling due to the contraction of the crust. Like preserves pinging. Yeah!
Can use this recipe for pizza. After the shaping, let it hang out for 30 minutes before using it for pizza, instead of the overnight stretch.

4 responses to “Tartine Country Bread”

  1. Tried to do this on last night and put the box with the dough in a bowl with the heating pad in the bowl, but set on low. It brought the dough to 126 and got it boozy. I also left it in there overnight (stupid Oracle stuff post-quitting).

  2. First loaf worked beautifully tonight. Beautiful crumb structure. Not as tasty as usual since I just did the 3 hour, 3 hour rise time. Needs rice flour over ALL of the towel.

    2nd loaf failed since the oven shut off when I turned it down to 450. Did not rise much as a result.

    The 3rd loaf probably proofed too long, even though it was off the heat. Should have put it in the ‘fridge. Next time will try only 1/3 of the recipe.

  3. Made 2 loaves as the recipe suggests. Maybe they did not proof, or maybe it was that the barm had not been fed in a few days, but the result was a nice tasting bread, but not as proofed as much as I would have liked. The flavor was nice, but not the “ooh la la” that I get when I buy from Tartine. The crust was lighter and not as thick.

    I did not fold it over in it’s first 3 hour period, thinking that we would be leaving soon. Since it is there to help keep the structure and “strengthen the gluten”, that probably was the reason for the lack of proofing.

    I put the bread in pasta bowls on top of a warming pad, and then the towel folded over to keep it happy-happy. That seemed to work.

    I dropped them into a dutch oven, instead of putting them in a pan and put the oven over it.

    I also put in a bunch of extra rice / WW flour on the towels. That really helped the bread come in and out.

    Like last time, the bread was really difficult to cut. The skin was too thick. I’m not sure how to get rid of that.

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