Getting chickens saved my starter. I know it sounds weird, but because I chose to start the starter in early spring and because our wood heated house never has a constant ambient temperature above 65-degrees unless the fire is blazing, my homemade starter was in a sate of stasis…no bubbles, no smell, no life. Then we got ten baby chicks. They lived in a large cardboard complex in our living room, and a big red heat lamp hovered above them non-stop. Just like the babies, my starter needed warmth to live. I realized that I could station the bowl of starter in close proximity to the lamp and soon started to see signs of life. The chicks and the native wild yeasts thrived together.
I received the Tartine Bread cookbook as a christmas present right after it was released. I had pined away for it and a couple of my loving co-workers had noticed. I’m not sure if I should be thanking them or cursing them, because it is not the simplest of undertakings, at least not in the beginner. By now there are hundreds of blog posts about Tartine bread, if not more. I could probably do a whole post just listing all of those posts. And now I’m one of them. Funny.
I’m definitely not bread baking expert. What I’m writing here is about my first and only attempt at the Basic Country Loaf recipe so far. I had every intention of doing this project on a regular basis. In fact, it was one of my New Year’s resolutions. Making Tartine bread and my own yogurt regularly. I have prevailed, for the most part, on the former. But for the bread, this is it. I’m not going to get into the details much here, like hydration ratios, bench rest or turning technique. If you want the recipe, buy the book. It’s totally worth it, even if you never make any of the recipes. The photos are gorgeous and the story is inspiring.
Despite some minor hiccups, like running out of regular white flour (instead of 10% whole wheat, mine ended up being 40%), the bread turned out amazing. I was glad that I had a three day weekend, because tracking the progress of each step took some time, patience and diligence. I’m sure as you get more familiar with the process and your own climate changes, the recipe becomes second nature. I will keep at it, but at this point I can’t really see how someone could do this on a day to day basis if they work away from home full time. Regardless, I ate bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner last weekend and loved every second of it.