I am an unapologetic carbohydrate girl, absolutely passionate about bread—baking it, almost exclusively sourdough, and consuming it.
A couple of years ago, while walking down 18th Street in San Francisco, I noticed a couple sitting at one of Tartine Bakery’s outside tables. They were busy tearing chunks off a loaf of Tartine’s fresh walnut bread and smearing them with butter. They looked completely happy.
Tartine’s bread is instantly recognizable with its dark, dark, dark crust covered in small blisters. The texture is a revelation: chewy with huge holes. “How,” I’ve wondered every time I’ve had the bread, “does he (Chad Robertson, the baker) do it?!”
What has stood between me and the bread is the line at Tartine—always long and too slow-moving for my taste. So you can imagine how I felt when I wandered into Books Inc, our neighborhood bookshop, armed with a discount coupon, feeling relaxed and in the mood, shall we say. There, on a display stand was a copy of the very beautiful Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson. I thought I wrote long recipes, but compared to Mr. Robertson, I’m a piker. His recipe for Basic Country Bread runs from page 42 to 79. (Some of those pages are step-by-step photos.) Once you work through the variations, you’ll have reached page 109, Chapter 2, Semolina and Whole-Wheat Breads.
But what a delicious and diverting trip! You will learn so much. In just a few minutes of skimming, I learned why my versions of no-knead whole-grain breads proof in an hour instead of the recommended two hours for an all-white version: whole-grain flours ferment faster.
Oh-oh, I’ve just discovered recipes for brioche with bacon, croissants, and kugelhopf. And then, consider the chapter entitled, Day Old Bread. Here you can find panzanella and variations, bruschetta, and more. All the ways to use up bread you did not have the sense to eat all up just a few hours out of the oven. Sorry, got to go, the bread is calling.