When we arrived early in the Mission District to meet friends for dinner at Commonwealth, we searched for a coffee shop to grab a quick bite before wandering around the neighborhood. When one of the possibilities was Tartine, I struggled to remember why it sounded so familiar until I remembered the bread baking cookbook we had purchased awhile back.
When my husband decided to give bread-baking a try, Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson had been one of the books we purchased based on glowing reviews on Amazon.
Chad Robertson of San Francisco's Tartine Bakery & Cafe describes a starter -- a mixture of flour, water, wild yeasts, and bacteria -- as a baker's fingerprint. Making one is simple, but it does require a commitment: Count on feeding and caring for the mixture for three weeks before you start baking.
For something closer to immediate gratification, begin using the starter after five to seven days, or order a fresh starter at kingarthurflour.com. (Keep in mind, the flavor won't be as complex.) Another secret to baking like a pro: Weigh all the ingredients -- even the water -- using a kitchen scale that includes metric measurements.
For the Starter:
White bread flour, 1,135 grams
Whole-wheat flour, 1,135 grams
Water (lukewarm), 455 grams
Water (78 degrees), 150 grams per feeding
For the Leaven:
Water (78 degrees), 200 grams
For the Dough:
Water (80 degrees), 750 grams
Leaven, 200 grams
White bread flour, 900 grams
Whole-wheat flour, 100 grams
Salt, 20 grams
1. Make the Starter: Mix white bread flour with whole-wheat flour. Place lukewarm water in a medium bowl. Add 315 grams flour blend (reserve remaining flour blend), and mix with your hands until mixture is the consistency of a thick, lump-free batter. Cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest in a cool, dark place until bubbles form around the sides and on the surface, about 2 days. A dark crust may form over the top. Once bubbles form, it is time for the first feeding.
2. With each feeding, remove 75 grams; discard remainder of starter. Feed with 150 grams reserved flour blend and 150 grams warm water. Mix, using your hands, until mixture is the consistency of a thick, lump-free batter. Repeat every 24 hours at the same time of day for 15 to 20 days. Once it ferments predictably (rises and falls throughout the day after feedings), it's time to make the leaven.
3. Make the Leaven: The night before you plan to make the dough, discard all but 1 tablespoon of the matured starter. Feed with 200 grams reserved flour blend and the warm water. Cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest in a cool, dark place for 10 to 16 hours. To test leaven's readiness, drop a spoonful into a bowl of room-temperature water. If it sinks, it is not ready and needs more time to ferment and ripen. As it develops, the smell will change from ripe and sour to sweet and pleasantly fermented; when it reaches this stage, it's ready to use.
4. Make the Dough: Pour 700 grams warm water into a large mixing bowl. Add 200 grams leaven. Stir to disperse. (Save your leftover leaven; it is now the beginning of a new starter. To keep it alive to make future loaves, continue to feed it as described in step 2.) Add flours (see ingredient list), and mix dough with your hands until no bits of dry flour remain. Let rest in a cool, dark place for 35 minutes. Add salt and remaining 50 grams warm water.
5. Fold dough on top of itself to incorporate. Transfer to a medium plastic container or a glass bowl. Cover with kitchen towel. Let rest for 30 minutes. The dough will now begin its first rise (bulk fermentation), to develop flavor and strength. (The rise is temperature sensitive; as a rule, warmer dough ferments faster. Robertson tries to maintain the dough at 78 degrees to 82 degrees to accomplish the bulk fermentation in 3 to 4 hours.)
6. Instead of kneading, Robertson develops the dough through a series of "folds" in the container during bulk fermentation. Fold dough, repeating every 30 minutes for 2 1/2 hours. To do a fold, dip 1 hand in water to prevent sticking. Grab the underside of the dough, stretch it out, and fold it back over itself. Rotate container one-quarter turn, and repeat. Do this 2 or 3 times for each fold. (If making walnut bread, add 3 cups walnuts-previously baked at 425 F for 15 minutes-after giving the bread the second turn, squeezing the nuts into the dough.) After the 3 hours, the dough should feel aerated and softer, and you will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in volume. If not, continue bulk fermentation for 30 minutes to 1 hour more.
7. Pull dough out of container using a dough spatula. Transfer to a floured surface. Lightly dust dough with flour, and cut into 2 pieces using dough scraper. Work each piece into a round using scraper and 1 hand. Tension will build as the dough slightly anchors to the surface as you rotate it. By the end, the dough should have a taut, smooth surface.
8. Dust tops of rounds with flour, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest on the work surface for 20 to 30 minutes. Slip the dough scraper under each to lift it, being careful to maintain the round shape. Flip rounds floured side down.
9. Line 2 medium baskets or bowls with clean kitchen towels; generously dust with flour. Using the dough scraper, transfer each round to a basket, smooth side down, with seam centered and facing up. Let rest at room temperature (75 degrees to 80 degrees), covered with towels for 3 to 4 hours before baking.
10. Bake the Bread: Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake the bread, preheat oven to 500 degrees, with rack in lowest position, and warm a 9 1/2-inch round or an 11-inch oval Dutch oven (or a heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid).
11. Turn out 1 round into heated Dutch oven (it may stick to towel slightly). Score top twice using a razor blade or a sharp knife. Cover with lid. Return to oven, and reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes.
12. Carefully remove lid (a cloud of steam will be released). Bake until crust is deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes more.
13. Transfer loaf to a wire rack. It will feel light and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool.
14. To bake the second loaf, raise oven temperature to 500 degrees, wipe out Dutch oven with a dry kitchen towel, and reheat with lid for 10 minutes. Repeat steps 11 through 13.
|Latte at Tartine|
|Banana passion fruit vine growing|
on chain link fence
|Beyond the banana passion fruit vine|
|Up the street in the Mission District|
gardeners were at work in the
Dearborn Community Gardens
|Composter in bed of herbs|
with herbs drying on the fence behind
|Insect house to provide a home for pollinators|
|Vertical gardening expands|
growing space and crop yields
|Near the gate a gardener has opted for |
a succulent garden
|One of several benches to sit and enjoy the garden|
Commonwealth is named after the early modern concept of organizing for the common good. Ten dollars from the sale of each tasting menu is donated to local charities—a way to indulge conscientiously. They have raised more than $130,000 for the San Francisco Food Bank, Martin De Porres House of Hospitality, SF SPCA, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Food Runners, St Anthony's, Project Open Hand, People's Grocery, At the Crossroads, and Kiva. Commonwealth’s goal is to offer one of the best dining experiences in the Bay Area. Executive Chef Jason Fox’s Progressive American cuisine harmoniously combines flavor palettes from around the world, and a broad range of techniques to create food that is refined, distinctive and satisfying. Fox creates harmonious, layered dishes rather than focusing on any single ingredient or mode of preparation.
albacore tuna crudo, white soy-sesame marshmallow, tomato dashi
MÜLLER THURGAU > Köfererhof > Valle Isarco > ’11 Alto Adige, Italy
octopus, shelling beans, bone marrow, saffron cracker, cilantro broth
BIANCOLELLA > Cenatiempo > ’12 Ischia, Italy
carrots roasted over seaweed, avocado, quinoa, purslane, carrot top pesto
PINOT NOIR > Falkenstein > Spätburgunder Spätlese > ’11 Mosel, Germany
tea smoked duck, figs, anchovy, basil, chard, honeyed shallots, black olive
REFOSCO > Le Carline > Lison Pramaggiore > ’11 Veneto, Italy
celery sorbet, verjus soda
peanut butter semifreddo, chocolate ganache, frozen popcorn
TAWNY PORT > Niepoort > Douro, Portugal
|Wow! Tastes even better than it looks!|