Tartine Bread

A whole wheat loaf fresh out of the oven at Tartine. It tastes as good as it looks.

As a bread baking geek I’ve set a goal of visiting the best bakeries in every town I’m in. Here in San Francisco, on our book tour, I had the privilege of waiting in the long line outside Tartine Bakery to buy a loaf of bread.

It was well worth the wait. Founded by Chad Robertson, Tartine specializes in naturally leavened breads with dark, thick crusts. Robertson’s technique involves moist doughs, no kneading and a long secondary fermentation in a refrigerator. Best of all, Robertson has adapted his methods for the home kitchen in a lavishly illustrated book Tartine Bread. Like the popular no-knead bread recipes circulating the interwebs, you bake your bread in a dutch oven, which simulates the steam injection of commercial ovens–the secret to a thick crust. But with naturally leavened breads such as the recipes in Tartine Bread, you get a much deeper flavor. Natural leavened breads, due to the higher acidity of natural leavens, also last a lot longer before going stale.

I agree with what Robertson says in the introduction to his book, that naturally leavened breads take only a little more effort than yeasted breads and yield much better results. When I return from our book tour I’ll share some other tips I’ve learned about how to bake naturally leavened bread.

Can you folks in Seattle and Portland suggest some good bakeries to visit? Leave a comment . . .

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10 Comments

  1. oh my i got so excited for a moment when i saw this post as i thought maybe a tartine opened up in la…oh well, a girl can dream {when i lived in sf for a little bit, i lived 2 blocks from tartine…i was there all the time!} have a wonderful book tour…

    and sorry i don’t have any portland or seattle tips!

  2. There’s Grand Central Bakery, but I fear they’re too corporate.

    Le Petit Provence is good- there’s one on Division and one on Alberta.

  3. You must try Macrina in Seattle. There are two locations, one downtown and one on Queen Anne. I particularly like the Rocket Muffins and the Apple Anadama Coffee Cake for sweets, their bread is terrific, too.

    In Portland, St. Honoré Boulangerie on Thurman near 21st is a very good, real French bakery. Very nice traditional bread and pastries.

    I wish I could make it over to the West side to see you all in Seattle–I’m already plotting out things to make out of your book.

    Have fun and enjoy both cities. I think they’re real gems, but I’m a Pacific Northwesterner so I’m partial…

  4. Not quite a bakery, but there’s a terrific fresh Crumpet shop in Seattle. It’s called The Crumpet Shop: 1503 1st Avenue
    Seattle, WA 98101 And while I continue on this tangent there’s a sweet little tea shop in that area as well: http://perennialtearoom.com/

  5. the husband has reminded me of Ken’s Artisan Bakery (which is in NW on 21st and is really good- I’d forgotten it) and St. Honore, on Thurman and gosh….NW 24th, I think, also in NW Portland. He also reminds me that we wanted to try Pearl Bakery, but I can’t recommend it, having never been there….These are all Portland places.

  6. Feeling quite giddy to have had the chance to have tasted said *exquisitely*-delicious loaf when it was passed around our circle of neighbors over here on l’il ol’ Vashon Island….. As my friend seated next to me said, it was like a *true* communion, passing the loaf ’round as we quite literally broke bread together.

    Such a sweet and deeply inspiring gathering! I so appreciated the wondrously lively and diverse topics considered, the seeds planted for present and future choices; warm thanks for including us in your circuit!

  7. We checked the Tartine book out from the library. Great food porn. So beautiful. I’m going to get the book again as I still cannot get those big airy bubbles in my bread and he seemed to have a fool proof way. He had three citizens test his method and they all made great bread.

    This time I’ll follow the directions.

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