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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Serious Bread: Tartine's Country Loaf

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2009 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge tartinebread1.jpg
I can't honestly name the best bread in the Bay Area. I could come up with a short list of a dozen or two, but they're so different in style that ranking them wouldn't make much sense. Who cares how good a baguette is when you're craving pumpernickel?

I will, however, venture the opinion that the local baker most obsessed with quality is Chad Robertson. A few years back, at his first place, Bay Village Bakery in Point Reyes Station, he made the most delicious whole-wheat bread I've ever had, then stopped because he couldn't find a source of flour that would consistently meet his exacting standards.

click to enlarge tartinebread2.jpg

These days, at Tartine (600 Guerrero), he bakes only one kind of bread,

a "country loaf" made from freshly-milled organic flours. Robertson

uses a relatively wet dough, lets it ferment slowly, and forms it into

unusually large loaves (close to three pounds), resulting in an

exceptionally crispy and crunchy (but not hard) crust and a moist,

light crumb. Something about that combination makes the bread stay

fresh longer than most.

The bread comes out of the oven at 5pm Tuesdays through Saturdays and

sells out quickly, but you can reserve a loaf by phoning earlier in the

day. Plain loaves are $7, flavored $7.25, a half loaf of either $4.

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Robert Lauriston

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