Ever since Christine and I vacationed in Paris in the fall of 2009, I have been obsessed with bread. It’s not so much that I want to eat any type of bread, but rather I want to recreate the flavors and tastes that I had in France.
One day at Costco of all places, I decided to just do it. I split a 25lb bag of flour with my friend and began. I tested my hand at making baguettes, stuffed baguettes, no-knead bread, pretzels, and pizza dough. Although I got great looking bread, I wasn’t able to get the flavor that I desired. So I kept experimenting….
In the fall of 2010, I heard about Chad Robertson and Tartine bakery in San Francisco. Chad Robertson is considered the best bread baker in the U.S. and has finessed the art of making bread. He happened to be promoting his book and would be doing a signing at SFMOMA. So I found myself on a Saturday morning in line with two little old ladies ready to meet Chad Robertson.
I bought a book. Got it autographed. Smiled and said a few nervous statements. Left with a bit more confidence. Got home and started reading Tartine Bread.
It all begins with the starter (starter recipe).
To create starter you mix flour and water at a 1:1 ratio into a bowl with your hand (make sure to wash your hands!) and let it sit covered with a towel in a room temperature area, such as your kitchen counter for a week. The goal of this step is to capture the bacteria in the air to create yeast. You should check every few days to see if any bubbles appear in the mixture. If nothing happens after a few days, then throw half of it away and start again.
An easier alternative method is to get some from a friend or relative.
To keep the starter alive, every 2-3 days you need to throw half of it away (or give it away) and add more flour and water.
What type of flour and water do I use?
- King Arthur All-Purpose, but I prefer bread flour for its higher protein content.
- Purified tap water. If it’s good enough to drink, then it’s good enough to use.
The next bread post will go into the planning stages of my bread baking.