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Fabulous Bread - Hard-to-Find Ingredients
on 25 November 2013
Yay! Pre-ordered copy of Tartine Book 3 arrived this morning. Wait! What's all this?
I preface my comments by saying I am a HUGE fan of Chad Robertson and the Tartine Bakery; one of my colleagues has been lucky enough to spend time with him at the bakery and returned with glowing reports of him and his bread, so fabulous in person as well as in print. I loved his first two books Tartine Bread and Tartine: Sweet and Savory Pastries, Tarts, Pies, Cakes, Croissants, Cookies and Confections and have baked from them extensively as have many of my colleagues and customers (I work at Shipton Mill in UK - We mill a range of organic & stoneground flour).
My first impressions of this latest volume however, are of fabulous breads that are much less accessible to the average home-baker, in the UK at least. In addition to the chapter on Basic Breads it contains chapters on:
* Master Method for Tartine Loaves (utilisiing a sequence of Starter, Leaven, Dough Premix, Autolyse and Final mix).
* Ancient Grain Breads (using Kamut, Emmer, Einkorn and Spelt flours)
* Seeded Breads (with all manner of seeds including Sunflower, Flaxseed, Sesame, Poppy, Caraway)
* Hearth Loaves with Sprouted Grains: (using Sprouted Einkorn, Purple Barley, Quinoa, Kamut, Rye, Spelt, Amaranth, and Emmer berries and Buckwheat groats for you to sprout yourself)
* Rene's Style Pan Loaves: (again using sprouted grains but in a higher percentage with lower percentage of flour including sprouted Rye, Barley, Purple Barley, Amazake (a preparation of Japanese rice grain) and Buckwheat groats plus the harder to find Einkorn flour)
* Porridge, Cracked and Flaked Grain Breads (including Master Methods for Porridge Breads & Cracked and Flaked Grain Breads, with fermented starters made from Rye, Kamut, Farro, Oats, Barley, Corn, Brown Rice, Koji Rice and Millet grains and berries)
The recipe chapters are interspersed with featured sections on the breads of Denmark, Sweden, Germany & Austria, France and Mexico chronicling Chad's journeys through bread.
The recipes all look amazing and I am sure taste equally fabulous if his first two books are anything to go by. But, and it's a big but, many of the ingredients are going to be hard to source by British home bakers, just take a look at the list below and ask yourself where you are going to source whole berries of these grains as well as some of the rarer flours. As always the intrepid adventurous bakers will go all out to do so and I anticipate an influx of enquiries here at the Mill asking if we do these ingredients. Whilst we offer an extensive range (42 different flours) to the home baker there are many of these ingredients which are not available in domestic quantities. Some flours are available, not just (for the sake of impartiality) from us, but other UK mills as well, such as Rye, Spelt, Buckwheat, Emmer Flour and Khorason (Kamut by another name), some such as Quinoa will shortly be available when we open our new gluten free mill however the majority are not and whole berries are only sometimes available by special order by the 25kg sack. Even more interesting is a comment in the introduction which notes at The Tartine Bakery they go one step further than an organic ethos in using Biodynamic flours which whilst milled from the purest and most sustainable grain imaginable is even more limiting and difficult to source if aspiring to the true Tartine Loaf. The professional artisan baker with access to a much more extensive range of high volume flours will likely make much greater use of this book, the domestic baker I fear may be disappointed by temptation put their way and no means to realise these fabuloafs.
I do feel the Amazon Book Description could do with a more comprehensive overview from the publisher and a Look Inside facility if readers are not otherwise going to be disappointed at the number of recipes they may find inaccessible. For this reason, and with great disappointment, I can only give this book a three star rating (*See my update for why I later upgraded it). As a fellow baker @thebreadkiln put it, Chad Robertson is a baker ahead of his time; if the description were more comprehensive, if it had a Look Inside so readers can judge for themselves how much of it they can use, and if the ingredients were more readily available it would be receiving a glowing five stars for fabulously creative baking methods, innovative contemporary breads and enticing photography. I have a feeling the grain farmers and millers are going to be scrambling to catch up with the demand created by this ground-breaking new book.
I will as always update these initial first impressions, once I've delved into it and got my hands into the dough! And to offer a ray of hope, I've just emailed my boss with this review and a summary of these hard-to-find ingredients.....watch this space fellow #breadheads!
OK - so overnight research via Google search has enabled me to source all bar four of the ingredients listed below from various online specialist suppliers in the UK; thus I have upgraded my initial star rating to four since it is after all a fabulous book and at least possible to achieve these recipes in the UK. The requirement to source such a large number of specialist ingredients prevents me however from giving it five stars which it otherwise undoubtedly deserves.
Hence, potential buyers beware: 97% of the bread recipes will require an online specialist purchase (see list of specialist ingredients below), with the possible exception of wheatgerm (required for every bread recipe) it is not going to be possible to walk into your local supermarket and buy the ingredients for the majority of these recipes and since there is no single supplier who provides them all it is going to cost in postage to have all these things delivered. Hence this remains a book for the professional with easy access to specialist ingredients or the experienced #breadhead looking to advance their repertoire, who positively enjoys the challenge of seeking out rare ingredients, doesn't mind spending the extra money to source them or has the knowledge to adapt the recipes for what they have available. Those new to slow fermentation breads or wanting more easily acquired ingredients may prefer his first book Tartine Bread which is a great introduction to Chad's style of baking.
Better news is that the Pastry section has far more accessible recipes. Whilst several still require online specialist purchases if you want to be true to the recipe, all bar one of the 42 recipes could easily be adapted to commonly available ingredients. So if you love Tartine for its sweet treats then this is a winner with lots of interesting and contemporary cakes and pastries using flours more commonly used for breads such as rye, buckwheat, Kamut (Khorason by another name) and spelt, all commonly available.
Buono come il pane. Like to eat. Love to bake
Specialist Ingredients (in addition to more commonly available flours):
Corn (Medium Fine Cracked)
Corn (Whole Kernels)
Purple Barley berries
Quinoa (Whole grains)
Wheatgerm (in every recipe)
Of these, the ingredients I have thus far been UNable to source in domestic quantities in UK are Einkorn berries, purple barley berries, Emmer berries (all for sprouting) and medium fine cracked corn. So if anyone has a source for these and fancies adding a comment with the supplier to this review please do!