13
Dec

why tartine?

It’s pretty clear that I love Tartine – the bakery, the cookbooks, the restaurant Bar Tartine (which I haven’t even spoken of yet!), and I am obviously such a fan of the owners – they have celebrity status in my eyes – we’re talking major, like Brad and Angelina famous.  Before I started this whole project at the end of September, I did not have Tartine on the brain like I do now.  It did have a special loaf-sized place in my heart, though, as I’ve already mentioned nearly two trillion times over the past two months or so. 

On the flight home from my latest trip to San Francisco, I spent a leg of my journey next to an adorable couple and their sweet little daughter.  As we were talking, I was still on cloud nine from the amazing trip.  (No, that’s not a drug reference.)  I was metaphorically high from the amazing time I had, as I’ve already spelled out in great detail here, here and here, so I was telling them about my project/blog with even more excitement than usually is the case.  They were either very intrigued and interested, or were very good actors convincing me of such things.  After I told the lovely woman I started this whole thing because I just love Tartine, and really missed it, she said, “Okay, but why do you love it so much?”  That’s a great question no one had really asked before, and I realize I haven’t really gone in depth about the real why.

Why Tartine? 

I’ve always loved bakeries.  Over the past four years, I’ve been to Europe twice, spending time in Southern France and the northwest part of Italy.  Traveling through Southern France, and visiting smaller towns where everyone makes daily trips to the one local bakery, made me fall in love with the concept of having “your regular bakery” – a place like Cheers where everybody knows your name.  Except, Sam is an older woman and she’s serving baguettes and croissants instead of beer and scotch on the rocks.  One visit in particular, we stopped to grab a bite to eat in a quaint boulangerie when we were passing through the small village of Pourrières, France.  The town was so very tiny, and the woman working was adorable and so eager to see travelers.  She got especially happy when I started speaking French with her.  Some guys who looked like they were in the middle of the Tour de France popped in, greeted her by name, and didn’t even order anything in particular.  She just threw together some things for them and they gave her some money.  One of them kissed her on the cheek.  I was so swept up in the moment, I felt like I was in any one of the French movies I was obsessed with in high school.  I had to fight the urge to leap over the counter and give her a kiss on the cheek, like I knew her or something, before we left. 

Exhibit A: the boulangerie in Pourrières, France

Exhibit B: Peering through the window at the woman I did not kiss.

It’s more than just loving the food, although that’s what gets a person hooked to any bakery.  As far as Tartine goes, I love the style of the actual brick-and-mortar bakery, that it’s right on the corner, the people working are happy to be there and seem like we could be pals, the art on the walls is always beautiful to look at, and the music is always right on.  Come on!  There’s an accordion player like every other Friday evening.  It’s magical, especially if you were one of the gazillion ladies in the world (like myself) who was obsessed with the movie Amélie. Tartine is the perfect American translation of that French bakery I’d always envisioned and wanted to frequent.

As you read their cookbooks, it’s impossible not to fall deeper into admiration and respect, or what I call true love, with the bakery.  You read about what brought Chad and Liz (yeah, I think we’re on a first name basis here) to the bakery in the Mission of San Francisco, and the dedication, love and passion for the craft of baking becomes even more clear.  I am all about supporting a business where relaying all of that to the customers, and audience of at-home bakers.  It’s apparent that is of the utmost importance to the folks at Tartine, and it’s what makes me love that bakery the way I do.

3
Oct

The best way to enjoy this apple crisp: à la mode (Taken with instagram)

The best way to enjoy this apple crisp: à la mode (Taken with instagram)

30
Sep

Photo from the ‘Tartine’ cookbook I cannot wait for this weekend!  A trip to the apple o

Photo from the ‘Tartine’ cookbook I cannot wait for this weekend! A trip to the apple o

29
Sep

Our friends came over and they love the croissants! C’est magnifique! (Taken with instagram)

Our friends came over and they love the croissants! C’est magnifique! (Taken with instagram)

29
Sep

Tartine Baking Project: #1: CROISSANTS!

This croissant-baking process began Tuesday evening and has been completed at noon today (Thursday).  At last!  The reason to start with the croissant is twofold (get it?  A folding reference as I’m talking about croissants!  You fellow croissant bakers get the pun!): I picked the croissant for my inaugural Tartine baking attempt because it was my favorite treat from the actual bakery, and it’s also the first one in the book.  Why not start from the beginning?  I went into this knowing that making croissants was labor intensive, not from experience or even knowledge of the subject, but because the narrative of directions spanned five pages.  That, and anyone I mentioned it to this week seemed ever-so mildly skeptical of such a lofty undertaking.  Throughout the past few days, this was my mantra: It’s a great way to start – if they turned out well, brilliant!  If it was a flop – fine!  I could only go up from there.

Between Tuesday and today, the majority of the time the dough was resting, just taking a little break from the stress of its doughy life, in the fridge, and even spent a brief stint in the freezer.  The second biggest slice on the pie chart of ‘How I Spent the Last Few Days’ would be reading directions.  I read them, re-read them, read them aloud, whispered them to myself, and had my husband read them to me when I was in elbow deep in dough and/or butter.  I just didn’t want to get it wrong.

Apparently this is what I look like when I’m reading something pretty intensely.  Good to know.

A cheesecloth blanket, then waiting for it to rise.  And it did!

Laminating the dough = slathering with butter, then folding, rolling out, folding again, rolling out some more.  This happens one million times.

Folding into a “plaque”.

The rolling part.  My arms are ripped now.  Not really, but I imagine those bakers at Tartine have bulging biceps.  I’ve never checked, but I definitely will the next time I’m there.

All that folding and rolling pays off!  Look at those layers!!!

Cutting them, stuffing half with smoked ham and gruyère cheese (pain au jambon!), then rolling them up was the most fun part!

It was this point right here when the romance of the life of a pastry chef blew out the window, along with the smoke.  Yes, smoke.  I’ll touch on that soon.  It’s like you’re light on your feet, glowing with the magic of a new relationship where everything is falling into place, and suddenly you wake up and they haven’t called you and it’s like 6 o’clock and they should have totally called.  You find yourself anxiety-ridden, questioning your every move, scrupulously analyzing every detail of the other person.  In my case, it was no man, it was those croissants!  Putting them in the oven to “proof” means putting them in a warm-ish spot for them to double in size.  The oven is off, and I even put a pan of steaming water in there to make it a slightly warm 75 degrees.  Well, I left the oven light on and then things got crazy.  Some started to get melty-ish.  Maybe that’s how they’re supposed to look?  I was so worried the butter was melting, I was concerned it was too hot, too cold, were they sagging?, are they noticeably puffy?, do they look spongy?  slouchy?, etc., etc., etc.  All these concerns resulted in me changing the water, turning off the oven light!, taking the water out all together, putting it back in, cracking the oven door.  This was two hours of this nonsense!  And they were all touching each other!  AH!

And then there was the baking.  I then added a baking sheet, and spread the 16 croissants over the two of them, squeezed them into the oven and started the timer.  The smoke began to fill the air as the butter oozed all over the oven.  And the fire (YES, FIRE!) happened soon after my husband, Dan, came home.  Good timing.  That fire was hot and I didn’t want to touch it.

We pressed on.  There was a lot of rotating them around to ensure even baking (which still wasn’t completely successful) and a lot of comparing/contrasting to the picture in the cookbook.  The cook time was increased by ten minutes, I guess because there were so many croissants in that oven!

I’m sure when you saw a picture of a fire you were worried of the outcome.  Believe me, I was too as I was coughing and my eyes were burning from sticking my head in a smoke-filled oven to rotate those croissants a million times, and I looked at Dan and my friend Colleen (who was entertaining the kids) for support as I panicked.  Ultimately, it worked out and after much convincing for honest feedback we all considered it a success!

The final result: a warm flaky croissant oozing with ham and cheese, alongside a coffee with my sugar cubes from our trip to France last fall.  How perfect!

29
Sep

Proofing in the oven! Getting close! (Taken with instagram)

Proofing in the oven! Getting close! (Taken with instagram)

28
Sep

Laminating the dough! The pic is slightly blurry, but that’s butter, folks! (Taken with instag

Laminating the dough! The pic is slightly blurry, but that’s butter, folks! (Taken with instag

28
Sep

Over to the right of the page, you can find this check list of all the recipes from the book in order as presented by the author.  I just wanted to point it out in its own special little post.  As I go through the list I plan on checking them off with a date of completion.  The act of writing every item out in this list provided some excitement (it’s fall and caramel apples and apple crisp are looking delicious and will happen this weekend!), as well as some fear (what am I getting myself into?!).  BUT!  Excitement is coursing through my novice fingers and I can’t wait to tackle it all, little by little.  Off to continue with my croissant adventures!

The baking checklist

28
Sep

The feature of the people behind the bakery behind the book that inspired my current baking endeavor which inspired this Tumblr.  (Thanks for pointing this out, Mary!)

The Selby at Tartine Bakery

28
Sep

Part of me really thought I’d wake up and after a few hours of baking have some Tartine croiss

Part of me really thought I’d wake up and after a few hours of baking have some Tartine croiss