So here’s the thing: I tried. I really tried. I did the starter, I tried to make a loaf. It did not work, and I think a lot of it has to do with my starter itself. With that in mind, take my review of Tartine Bread with a grain of salt, because my failure definitely colors the way I look at this book. I am not sure if this book is written for the home baker, and let me tell you why.
First, there is yet another equipment barrier. I hit this with nearly all baking books I try out. With Flour Water Salt Yeast, I needed to get a dutch oven. That was fine, I needed it. Tartine Bread needs you to have a dual cooker dutch oven, one where the lid can also be a pan. It was expensive. It’s a pain in my ass, and I learned I’m bad at caring for cast iron because of it. Most people aren’t going to have this in their repetoire. You will have to buy a lot of things to keep up here.
Then, there’s the starter. I was excited to try making my own. It was a new journey for me in fermentation, but once I got out of the gate, I started to have trouble remembering to feed the starter before going to work. Tartine advises you feed it at almost the exact same time every day up until it begins to rise and fall predictably. My starter would rise and fall, but I think that I failed to feed it appropriately. My first and only attempt at a bread with this starter did NOT get much lift, and it failed on the bake.
I’m also not very keen on the introduction to the book. There’s something that ticks me off about spending twenty pages listening to a chef’s pilgrimage into the French mountains to learn how to make bread from bread holy men in a bread holy place. I just want to make bread in my kitchen. I can’t go to frickin’ France for someone to walk me through keeping a starter going or maintaining a woodfired oven. I get that it is an important part of the Chef’s journey, but good lord. I don’t need to be reminded every recipe.
I may one day return to Tartine Bread, when my health is better and I am not in the middle of working on my CPC certification. I don’t have the patience for the failures that come with trying to get your own starter going organically, so until then, I will continue baking bread with Flour Water Salt Yeast, a much more forgiving book for the home cook.
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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