I am so excited about one of the purchases I made at Powell’s the other day!
Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson is a beautiful book about the simple craft of baking bread. Chad is the baker behind the Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and it is not difficult to see that when it comes to this craft, Chad is truly an artist. From the back of the front cover:
The bread at San Francisco’s legendary Tartine Bakery sells out within an hour almost every day. At 5 pm, these rugged, magnificent loaves are drawn from the oven. The first cut yields steam and room-filling aroma, exposing an open and tender interior underneath the burnished, substantial crust. This distinctive bread was developed by renowned baker Chad Robertson over a decade of working with the finest artisan bakers in the United States and France, followed by another decade of baking solo in a small wood-fired oven on the coast of Northern California. The following for this singular bread far exceeds the bakery’s limited daily production.
And Chad’s own words about his inspirations:
My strongest inspiration came not from real bread but from images — images of a time and place when bread was the foundation of a meal and at the center of daily life. There is a painting of boaters gathered at a riverside table. At the head, a large crusty loaf held close to the heart is cut into wedges to commence the meal. . . . This was elemental bread that sustained generations. To find this bread, I would have to learn to make it. Thus began my search for a certain loaf with an old soul.
The photos in this book are inspiring and beautifully simple.
All of the recipes in this book use a sourdough starter as the leavening agent and from the very beginning of the book Chad impresses upon the reader that bread-making is not a task that can be rushed. It’s a message I understand well — years of crafting have shown me that making things by hand is a time-consuming process. It was a bit frustrating, though, for this inspired would-be bread baker who couldn’t wait to get home and start throwing the flour around.
Instead, I contented myself with beginning my sourdough starter, which I am now checking, cultivating and caring for every day. We’re at least a week away from having a delicious hand-crafted loaf — I’ll let you know how it turns out.