It was a great birthday present. The cookbook, Tartine Bread – from the legendary bakery in San Francisco, a food scale, a bench knife, and a vintage cookbook stand were all cooking themed and necessary tools to start the process of bread making. I don’t think Matt gave me the present with hopes of weekly homemade loaves in mind, but I wouldn’t blame him if he did. You see, I have a habit of saying “we could make that” to almost everything. Quilt? I have a sewing machine. Honey? let’s get bees. Laundry soap? I could find a recipe – and I’ve seen someone else do it. While ambitious, it less often becomes a reality and I want to be a photographer more than I want to become amish.
However, it was time that statement became true with bread making. Reason #1. I love fresh bread #2. I live in the country, so driving to a bakery is not really an option #3. I like when I know what ingredients are in food #4. I now had the instructions and tools to do so.
Once I opened the present, delighted to discover the secrets to bread making I began to delve into the book which read like half book half cookbook. Yes it had recipes, but it also told a story. Matt asked, “so should we make bread for dinner?” and I quietly laughed to myself before explaining that before we could even think about making bread we would have to start the 7-10 day process of creating a starter. Yes, this was serious business and not an adventure for the faint of heart or instant gratification cooks.
Of course, I had hope. Hope that the process would be come easier, that bread could be part of our routine, and soon it would be second nature. I began my starter, feeding it regularly and keeping an eye on it like a new pet. Finally I was ready to make my first loaf, and since Tartine’s basic country bread recipe (one of the base bread recipes for multiple variations) makes two loaves I used half for pizza dough.
I’ll spare you all of the boring bread making details and recommend checking out the book if you are interested in learning about the process and trying it for yourself. Seriously it’s a great book and to top it off it has some gorgeous photography which documents the processes well enough to know if what you are doing is right (I always find that helpful). In the end we not only had a delicious and completely different kind of pizza crust – much more chewy + crispy and probably the best we’ve made so far – but we had a fresh loaf of bread. Perfect? No, but being my first time around I’m excited to try it again this week and test out some variables until I come up with a loaf I love. Then I’ll move on to milling my own flour.
I know I’m not the only one out there baking bread regularly (at least I hope so, otherwise you guys must think I’m crazy) so if you are let me know and I’d love to hear any tips and tricks you use!
thanks Tartine for teaching me how to make bread! Here’s a little overview of the steps I took: