Tartine Bread, Day 4: Time-shifting the feed cycle

5 thoughts on “Tartine Bread, Day 4: Time-shifting the feed cycle”

  1. Adam –

    I know you are following the Tartine protocol right now, and don’t want an excess of advice, so I’ll keep it short, and say you’re welcome to email if you have questions. I have been baking sourdough breads for the last 5 years or so, and have loads of tips.

    In my experience, even a very healthy starter needs 8-12 hours of fermentation before it’s ready to use in a bread formula, so I typically refresh in the evening for use the next day. Unless you plan to bake late in the evening, a morning refresh is unlikely to get bread baked on the same day (you’ll need 3 to 4 hours of proofing before the bread can be baked, depending on ambient temps). I usually bake on the weekends, when I can attend to the dough over the course of the day. It’s much more civilized than having to start the process at the end of the work day, which can have you baking well past your bedtime.

    – Andrew

    1. Thanks, Andrew. I’ll re-read the recipe/process and see if I’ve misinterpreted something. …

      Ah! I see what he’s doing here. The process involves making a leaven the night before and waking up and then going to town with it.

  2. I guess I don’t want to give too much of Robertson’s book away so I’m being a bit vague. But I’ll just go into this …

    In the intro, he’s talking about how he likes to work with the leaven when it’s “younger” rather than more mature because he doesn’t want too much of a sourdough flavor. So I guess what he does is feed the starter in the morning, then when it’s “mature” in the evening, take some of that and create the leaven, letting it ferment overnight to the point where he likes it. I guess that sort of makes sense to me.

    Also getting some advice from Twitter DMs… Says a buddy, the stink is likely the undesirable bacteria that shows up first before the good guys come in and take over.

  3. I’m the same way, my breads are stealth-sour. But in my experience, that’s the result of regular feedings, and not so much about the age of an individual batch. There is a window of use for a starter, and you definitely want to use it as close to the front end as possible, before it has peaked in volume. After awhile, you just know.

    And yeah, don’t worry. I’ve started from scratch many times, and it always smells like Satan’s armpit in the early stages. Just keep at it, and it will sweeten up. And don’t bother trying to bake bread until it gets there (unless you want firsthand experience why you shouldn’t), it’s just sad.

    BTW, be careful, the bread bug can easily overtake the pizza bug—it’s a much bigger area of exploration, and endelssly delicious.

    When you are ready, let me know if you want my secret tip on how to keep a starter at its prime when you use/refresh it only once a week.

    – aj

  4. Thanks, again Andrew. That all makes sense. I hope to get to the point where “I just know.” Will take regular feeding and keeping up with it. I’m very interested in exploring the different breads out there, particularly baguettes … But mostly I just want an excuse to eat lots of butter. Nothing better than butter melting on hot bread. Except maybe a sandwich.

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