Hey, have I told you before how bad I am at baking bread? Like we’re talking rock-hard, bland, dense, pancake shaped loaves. This confident baker, who has bested pie crusts, croissants, and biscuits — and I couldn’t even manage some decent bread?? COME ON! There’s like two ingredients! What the hell, bread?!
Anyway, these were my thoughts when I found out a coworker had a baker staying with him, and I pleaded for him to come into the office and tell me how to make my bread un-crappy. He told me that I was doing pretty much everything wrong: my starter should be fed more often — every day or or every other day, I should be baking the bread at a higher temperature and in a dutch over to trap steam, I should be stretching the dough to help the gluten structure, etc. And thus began my bread evolution, or as my roommates will refer to it, that week where Boo make like 5 loaves of bread day after day and was sleepy and grumpy and couldn’t focus on conversations that didn’t involve bread. Yep, that sounds about right. Here we go…
Ok, this bread was already showing improvement. For example, it looks like bread! Not like a weird oversized scone. Too bad it tasted like absolutely nothing. I mean, really, really nothing.
Onwards and upwards! Thursday was even better! I used the dutch oven cooking method, which produced a chewier crust. The bread was also more flavorful than Wednesday’s. However, the inside was still a bit dense, and it was a far cry from the tangy crusty sourdough of my dreams.
Ah, look at that crust! So crusty! More flavor than the last time, but still a bit dense.
AW YEAH!!! This was from the Tartine recipe for country bread. It was extremely flavorful — sour, but also savory and rich. It was also soft and moist, but still chewy and springy! Ah! YESSSSSS!!!! I knew this was good when I made sandwiches for all of my meals that day. The only downside is that recipe is seriously high maintenance. For two days, that dough was my baby. For example, one step involves stretching the bread every half-hour for 3 hours. And that is one step out of 14 bajillion. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. It’s that good, and the day and half you spend working on it just makes it better. Especially for the upcoming holidays, I don’t think there’s anything more special you could bring to dinner. This bread is an act of love.
P.s. isn’t that last bread better looking than the others? It was, but also because my housemate Anna took that photo, with her real legit non-cellphone camera. To see her hella professional and beautiful and inspiring food blog, go here.