· Notorious T.A.R.T.I.N.E.

Feeling like you’re in the groove with this stuff so far? Don’t get too comfortable.

Up to this point, I’ve been making levain breads using Ken Forkish’s method. His book, Flour Water Salt Yeast, makes levain breads approachable for the bread baking novice, and after several months, I not only felt that I’d learned how to make artisan bread, but that I could actually make good bread. I have by no means mastered Ken’s method, but the desire to expand one’s horizons is a natural one.

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Chad Robertson, renowned baker and owner of Tartine Bakery & Café in San Francisco’s Mission district, describes his own process in his first book, Tartine Bread. It was time to tackle the Tartine method, one that could be considered ‘notorious’ in the home baker world given that many elements of the process are substantially different, and consequently, quite challenging. The Tartine loaf is considered the holy grail of bread by many, and if you’ve ever made the pilgrimage to corner of 18th and Guerrero, you’ll understand why. In fact, one of my favorite blogs, Tartine Bread Experiment (now Girl Meets Rye) was originally devoted to it. Continue reading

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· Crust or Bust?

Who doesn’t look forward to pizza night? I sure do.

There are some foods that many of us take for granted. I would consider pizza to be one of them. To be honest, I often forget that pizza is actually bread with a bunch of stuff on top, though perhaps that is an oversimplification. But still, what do so many of us love dearly about pizza? The crust.

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· Meet Sam, the Sourdough Man

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The genesis of naturally leavened bread, which harnesses the rising power of wild yeast, lies in what is commonly called a sourdough starter. In fact, it turns out that wild yeast and bacteria are already in the flour – no need to add anything except water to get them going. The characteristics of a starter, and the levain (French for leaven) that is generated from it, have much to do with the flavor of the loaf. The good news is that this process can be just as fun and rewarding as pulling loaf from the oven.

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