Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Loaf of Tartine Bread


The bread baked by Chad Robertson at Tartine’s in San Francisco is my favorite in the United States, hands down. Nothing can compare to picking up a freshly baked loaf when it is just coming out of the oven. The smell and texture are intoxicating, and it takes everything in me not to tear into it the minute I get it in my hands.

That’s not to say that there isn’t fantastic bread available in other cities across the country, but Robertson approaches breadmaking as an art, and he has been perfecting his loaf for more than 15 years. The guy is old school. He apprenticed with various bakers here and abroad to experiment with different styles until he perfected his own recipe. To this day, he is still learning—in fact, he recently emailed me from Paris, where he was meeting with several bakers.
Now everyone can take a crack at his bread. Tartine Bread, a book I have been waiting for since Robertson first told me about it more than a year ago, was released last week. And it is nothing short of brilliant.
I first met Robertson in Point Reyes Station 14 years ago, when he was baking bread in a small shack called Bakeshop with a wood-fired oven built by Alan Scott. The bread was amazing even then. Through the years, Robertson moved to Marin and then finally to San Francisco, opening Tartine Bakery on Guerrero Street in 2002, offering an array of pastries, desserts and sandwiches.
Tartine Bread promises to teach you how to make the perfect loaf right in your own home oven. The recipe is relatively simple, needing only a bit of time, patience and practice. Robertson went through great pains to get his wet dough right, sending it it out to nonbakers to test. The book includes great bread recipes and more than 30 sweet and savory dishes.
I have been on my own journey to make the perfect loaf. There is nothing like breaking freshly baked bread with loved ones, along with a bottle of wine and some delicious food. That’s all you need. Stay tuned—I'll be trying out Robertson's recipe.
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