We’re not quite ready to bake our sourdough loaves yet, but if you’ve been following along since Day 1 of Sourdough Starter School, you will be very soon. So keep feeding as you have been, and on Monday we’ll prepare our leaven (the final step before making loaves with that starter we’ve worked so hard on!).
In the meantime, there are a few things you’ll need if you want to do this right. Regular Phickle readers will know that I am not a fan of extra kitchen equipment, and that I highly recommend developing your fermentation habit before you develop your coterie of fermentation gear. Baking is a little bit different, however, and right now, we’re working towards a very specific outcome for a very specific bread.* So here’s what you’ll need to make the Tartine Country Loaf next week.
- A Cast-Iron Combo Cooker – I use this Lodge version in the link. If you already have a Dutch or French oven, that will work great!
- An digital, gram-weight scale – You can find a decent one for $20 or less. I used a very compact $17 version for years (until I needed something larger to test recipes for Ferment Your Vegetables) and it worked great. There is just no comparison between baking done by weight and by volume measurement. A scale is a must.
- A thermometer – The temperature of your ingredients is critically important to making high-quality bread. If you want to be a Tartine superstar, get a solid kitchen thermometer.
- Basic kitchen stuff – A big bowl, a medium bowl or basket, a flour sack or other non-terrycloth kitchen towel and a good spatula round out what you need!
Other than gear, you’ll need your starter to be in good working order. Hopefully you’ve continued to pay attention to how your starter is growing and falling and how its aroma is changing over the course of the feeding cycle. If you haven’t make sure you do over the next few days. You’re looking for consistency. You want to see your starter rise and fall consistently after feeding, you want to see lots of bubbles in the batter. You want the smell to cycle consistently too. Sweet and milk a few hours after feeding, acidic and odiferous right before the next feeding.
*For years and years, I baked sourdough breads with no special equipment, no scales and no thermometers. It was better than grocery store bread, but not nearly as good as quality bakery bread. Honestly, it was nowhere near as good as the bread I make from Tartine Bread. If you have limited space or funds and aren’t sure if you’ll keep up the habit, you may want to try to wing it here rather than buying kitchen equipment, using approximate weights and temperatures. I totally get that! However, the vessel, the weight and the temperature are all essential to making the breads from Tartine Bread, so be aware that you won’t end up with the same quality loaves if you choose to proceed this way.
If you’re just clicking in and want to start from the beginning, here’s your path:
- Get started with Step 1 of Sourdough Starter School.
- What your starter will look like after 24 hours of fermentation
- Step 2 (Days 3-7) – Stabilizing Your Starter
- Why You Should Do a “Low-proportion” Sourdough Feeding
- 4 Things to Make with Excess Starter
- Getting Ready to Actually Bake! Equipment and Starter Health Check (You Are Here)
- Preparing the Leaven
- Mixing the Dough and Bulk Fermentation
- Dividing, Shaping, Final Rise
- Baking and Cooling
- Tartine Bread Giveaway!!!