Thursday, September 8, 2011

My bread, my way: The Tartine diary.

Bread - the most basic food that is shared at almost every meal in every home across the world.  We eat it fresh, toasted, on a sandwich or bruschetta, cuban style or french baguettes for breakfast, lunch and dinner without giving it that much thought.  In Brazil, I remember my dad going to buy fresh "pao frances" every morning at a bakery for breakfast.  But it was not until I went to Spain with my husband that I gained new appreciation for bread.  For the first time in my life, I saw fresh bread being delivered home just in time for lunch - at 3pm.  It was the perfect side dish for every meal and the perfect combination for the wonderful Spanish tapas.

Since then, I have always kept my eyes open to where I could buy good bread here in the US.  Unfortunately because there is not many local bakeries, I settled on buying bread in large grocery chains thus compromising freshness for convenience.  Little I knew, this was about to change when I stumbled upon the book "Tartine Bread" at Barnes & Nobles recently.  I immediately became inspired by the author, Chad Robinson, owner of a very successful bakery in San Francisco - Tartine Bakery.  In the book, he describes his search for the perfect bread made the old fashioned way, with natural leaven and calls upon the baker within you to replicate his bread at home.  So, I wanted to share with you my journey into baking my first fresh loaf of bread.

My first loaf of bread
 I started by creating a starter, or a natural yeast culture that would be used to ferment my bread about a month ago.  "Jake", the name I call now my third child, after my daughter and dog, had to be fed every day until it grew strong enough and looked like this.

The bad news is that after this stage, there is no exact instructions to follow.  In other words, the book gives you an in depth explanation on how to make bread and the things you need to look for in each stage but you need to use your guts and call upon your inner baker to complete the process.  That is why I love this book, because I think cooking is a passion and you need to invest time, thought and care into doing it in order to come up with something great. 

The truth is the first time I attempted to make bread didn't work out.  I prepared my leaven the night before as the book suggests only to wake up with a sour culture that had fermented too long.  I figured it is because it is too hot here now in Florida, so I needed much less time to prepare the leaven.  I tried it again yesterday starting in the morning, which allowed me to finish the loaves at night for the final rest and have them ready to bake in the morning.  The good news is that I enjoyed my fresh hot bread for breakfast and it was priceless. 

I hope I have inspired some of you to go into this adventure.  I recommend it to anyone with a passion for cooking.  I am truly amazed at the results and still can not believe that a bread that looks this good and tastes this great is coming out of my own oven.  I know that my husband is happy and we've enjoyed our bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the way it is supposed to be!!!


  1. Loved your story!! You inspired me to make some bread!! Nice to see you have this blog! Cheers, Denisse B.