So, I tried to make a flatbread from Dining In last weekend. Cooking it in a nonstick skillet rendered some pretty piss terrible results. I undercooked every single one, and I did not divide them appropriately for the size skillet I tried to cook. Maybe that part was disappointing, but Alison Roman made mention of the Tartine Bread cookbook, something of a legend for bread bakers. It sat on the back of my mind all weekend until I knew it was close to time to order a book for April.
I hit buy on Amazon. Chad Robertson’s iconic cookbook was on the table by Wednesday. As of now, I’ve already read the introduction, and I am preparing to start the process of making my own starter. It’s a daunting task for someone who still struggles to decipher the hidden language of a bread dough, but I am hoping that Chad Robertson will help guide me down a path of better understanding that Forkish began for me in Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast.
The beauty of baking bread is that it is never going to be just one meal that comes from the act of cooking. I know to expect at least one loaf every time I crack the spine of this cookbook. I know I can use it any way that I like. I also know I could disappoint myself. I could forget to feed my starter for a whole week and have to start again. I could fail to preheat my oven properly.
But I could also come up with something beautiful. Robertson makes promises to the bakers that decide to pick up his cookbook. Though I loathe every time I open a cookbook to read about the chef gallivanting around rural France, living the kind of life home cooks can only dream about, there is value in the knowledge those chefs bring back to write about for us. We can’t get our hands into the dough of the French masters. We can’t stare down the throats of the beautiful ovens that produce bread renowned the world over, but we can read. We can practice. We can pray.
Read, practice, and pray with me over Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread this April. Due to the nature of bread baking, you’ll get more than one article out of me on this journey. Sunday, I give birth to my starter. I’ll keep you updated throughout the labor, right up until I use it in my first loaf. With any luck, we’ll all make something beautiful together.
Like with a lot of these bread cookbooks, there is an equipment barrier to overcome. Make sure you have a combo cooker dutch oven (a dutch oven where the lid can also be a pan, that is), some dough scrapers for your bowls, and a proofing basket or two. I had to invest in a combo cooker to get started. Bonus: you can order it all together with your book on Amazon if you’re without some of these important items.
If you pick up the cookbook this month, be sure to use the hashtag #eatingnormal on instagram and twitter to show me your results! Let’s get to creating together in a way only social media allows.
Here’s to bread, homemade leaveners, and new experiences in the kitchen!
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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