March 28, 2014
I've been seriously dabbling in bread making for years. I've tried both sourdough and commercial yeast recipes. I've made free form loaves and loaves in pans. I was baking regularly a couple of years ago and turning out pretty good loaves of bread. But I had not yet found a recipe for bread I couldn't live without, one that I really wanted to bake and eat every week.
That all changed when Ray brought home Tartine Bread. Ray was on a fermentation kick, inspired by Michael Pollan's Cooked. I felt a bit betrayed, after years of trying to make us good homemade bread Ray came along and planned to do it himself, even though I thought I was the family baker. Of course I am always happy when he is interested in spending time in the kitchen but it turned out that he didn't get much farther than trying to create a starter.
So, I grabbed the book and dove in. The instructions are very detailed and designed for successful home bread baking. My first loaves were okay. But by the second try, I felt like I had already hit the jackpot. This was by far the best bread I had baked at home and it had all the characteristics of my ideal bread loaf. A crisp crust with a sturdy interior (moist and spongy in a good way), not too sour, full of the loveliest holes. Ray agreed that this bread was nearly ideal. I know there is room for improvement and experimentation (not to mention many other recipes to try) but I have been baking this bread almost every week for the past few months. The recipe makes two large loaves, more than we really need right now, so I often give one away or save some of the dough to make into really good pizza.
Looking back at my old sourdough posts, I see many of the same images. But, not only does this recipe fit well with my days at home with Amos, it also creates a simple and visually pleasing process that I couldn't resist sharing again. In fact, the process is a delight for all of the senses. Hands in the dough, the smell of the yeast transforming the flour and water, the crackle of the crust when it comes out of the oven and, of course, the taste. I am thrilled to bake bread that is as good as anything we might get at the store and to finally have a regular bread routine.