Bread making, which many people lump under the general heading of baking, is nothing like making pastry. If you ask me, the two aren’t even comparable (other than the fact that flour is a predominant ingredient in both). Bread making is a whole other craft. Bread makers, as a rule, are a different breed as well.
My first introduction to really well made bread was via Carole Griffen’s Continental Bakery. She crafts her bread in the fashion of the famed Paris bakery, Poilâne. Having tasted Carole’s and Poilâne’s breads, I have to say her bread certainly holds it’s own. Whenever I go back to Birmingham, I never miss stopping by her bakery.
While there have been plenty of breads and bakeries I've pledged my allegiance to, my enduring obsession has been Chad Robertson's bread at Tartine Bakery. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had previously tried making natural leavened bread but wasn’t pleased with the results (and had a little issue with my starter). Now that Chad has released a cookbook on making his amazing bread in your home, Tartine Bread has inspired me to try making bread again. I’ve gotten another starter going and I’ve been doing quite a bit of bread baking. So far, my attempts have been to mixed success – a couple of wins, a not-even-near miss on baguettes- but I guess that’s to be expected.
I tried fougasse for my first attempt to make bread with my starter. Tartine Bread’s fougasse recipe calls for enriched dough, meaning that natural leaven (using starter) is mixed with a poolish made from commercial yeast, flour, and water. I was thrilled with the result but then my standards are pretty low – I decided that as long as the dough rose and the bread had a good crust, I’d be happy. So mission accomplished for my first attempt. I need to work on paying particular attention to folding the dough and the bench rise as I’d like to see more holes (alveoles) in the crumb.
*I’m not posting recipes on my bread making attempts as they are quite lengthy. Since these breads require a starter, if you’re going to invest the time to develop a starter, you’ll probably want to invest in the book as well.