You made your leaven? You put it in a glass of water and it floated for a while? Cool! We’re ready to go then. First up in Tartine Bread is a step that’s likely much easier than what you’ve done in the past. No stand mixer. No elbow grease, just some light hand-mixing to start.
Tartine Country Bread Dough
Makes 2 loaves. Very closely adapted from Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread
- 200 g leaven
- 700 ml, plus 50 grams filtered water, heated to 80°F (26.7°C)*
- 900 g all-purpose flour
- 100 g whole wheat flour
- 20 g salt
Using your (very clean) hands, dissolve the leaven into the first 700 grams of water in a large bowl. Add both flours, and mix with your hands until all the flour is absorbed. This will be a very shaggy, dryish dough and you might think you’ve messed it up because the flour doesn’t seem to be quite fully in there. Just do the best you possibly can, and work out any lumps. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and scrape any excess dough off of your hands and back into the mix.
Set the dough aside at room temp for 25 to 40 minutes. (Don’t skip this!) Add the salt and the remaining 50 g of 80°F water and squeeze the dough through your fingers to incorporate the salt. Take advantage of the addition of water, to mix in any little dry bits that didn’t quite get in there cohesively the first time. It’s totally fine for little pieces to break off while you’re squeezing. Just mix them back in and they reintegrate themselves.
After squeezing this way for a couple minutes, the salt should be incorporated, and the dough should pull together pretty easily.
Pull the dough together into a cohesive mass and move it into a thick glass bowl or thick plastic container. Cover the container with a cloth. The goal here is to insulate it fairly well so it maintains temperature. This is the bulk rise, and if you’re doing it the way I do, it will take about 12 hours. For the first 2 to 3 hours, you’ll want to “turn” the bread every 30 to 45 minutes. Do this by sticking a water-dampened hand along the side of the container down to the bottom. Gently grab the dough at the bottom of the container and pull it up and over the top of the surface dough. Do this so that in each “turn” you’ve flipped the dough from top to bottom. If you’re around and awake for the remaining 9 hours of fermentation, you can repeat this process ever hour or hour and a half. I usually do this part overnight, or while I’m at work, so I just do a few turns in the first few hours, as described, and then do another (EXTREMELY GENTLE) turn or two in the last 2 t0 3 hours before the next step.
During bulk fermentation, you’ll see bubbles develop around the sides of the container, and the dough itself will expand, smooth out, and in Robertson’s perfect words, become more “billowy.” During your last turn, the dough should pull away from the sides of the container with ease. It should be lighter and silkier. Don’t press it too much or you’ll push out the gas that will later make your bread rise beautifully. Just gently turn the dough onto itself without compressing it and you’ll be alright.
At hour 10 or 12, you notice all of the above descriptors in your dough, and you’ll know it’s time to divide and shape. Those, my friends, are tricks for tomorrow!
- Step 1 (Days 1-3) – Let’s Get This Starter Started
- 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 a Loaf! Equipment and Starter Health Check
- Preparing the Leaven
- Mixing the Dough and Bulk Fermentation (You Are Here)
- Dividing, Shaping, Final Rise
- Baking and Cooling
- Tartine Bread Giveaway