Okay, I can finally report on how my first batch of Tartine country bread turned out!
First off, I should note the deviations from the recipe:
1. I don't have the book yet (I'll be getting it in about 6 weeks for my birthday so I must wait
), so I used the recipe from marthastewart.com
2. Due to scheduling I mixed the dough in the evening. So while bulk fermentation & folding times were per the recipe, I needed to extend/retard the proofing stage. After shaping the 4 loaves and placing them all in baskets to proof, I immediately brought them to my basement which was around 65F. I wasn't sure how they would develop at that temperature, so I checked them at around 4:30am (4.5 hours after going to bed) and they seemed like the were almost ready to bake, so I transferred them to my garage which was around 25F (there wasn't room in the fridge for all those baskets). Because 25F is below freezing, I put a blanket over them, and nestled between the baskets I placed a thermometer so I could track the temp they were really experiencing under the blanket.
3. My shaping techniques were not from the book. For the round loaf I used the usual boule shaping method which I originally learned from sourdough.com but is pretty much the same in Hamelman's Bread
. The others were batards and I used Gerard Rubaud's method that I learned from here: http://www.farine-mc.com/2010/01/batardbaguette-shaping-gerards-method.html
(I tried a few other methods and I usually get much better results with the Rubaud method)
4. I baked the first two loaves in closed vessels -- a large roasting pan with lid, and a round casserole dish. The roasting pan is lightweight so there's no way it has the thermal retention of cast iron, but after the casserole dish it was the best I had!
The final two loaves I baked my normal method for sourdough -- on a pizza stone with steam added via pouring boiling water onto a separate "steam pan" filled with rocks.
By the time I got them in the oven I think the loaves were slightly overproofed, although not terribly so. I found scoring difficult inside of the dish & pan, because it was hard to get the knife angle the way I like it. Still, the "self-steaming" provided by baking in closed vessels was pretty cool. The round loaf in the casserole dish had the best oven spring.
With the final two loaves I had some trouble loading them onto the baking stone. It was my fault because I was so used to my regular 65% hydration "norwich sourdough", I forgot to expect these to have a bit more give to them, and they spread out a bit as I was trying to load them. For a minute part of both loaves was hanging off the edge of the stone, but I used a wooden spatula to pull them back on board.
Coming out of the oven, the crusts looked awesome, just what the recipe seemed to be aiming for. When I cut into the first loaf -- the one baked in the roasting pan -- I was very happy with the crumb. (Note this is the only one I've cut into so far; we went out of town so the other ones are now in the freezer.)
The flavour was delicious, similar to my regular "norwich sourdough" but with a somewhat moister and lighter crumb, and a bigger difference between crust and crumb. (Which I love, but the kids don't, they like softer crusts.)Conclusion:
a fantastic sourdough recipe which I will definitely try again. I'm really happy with my results on the first try and I'd love to improve on them (mostly to get more oven spring and better 'opening' of slashes). Also it would be great to experiment with using some rye in the mix, like 5% WW 5% rye, or even trying kamut.