Monday, August 5

Tartine @Ballymaloe

A couple of months ago I was pondering my Bread making skills
I am a massive fan of Jim Laheys No Knead Bread
and make it every week 
But I felt like I wanted to push things up a notch 
After a little bit of a web trawl I was amazed and delighted to discover that 
Chad Robertson from Tartine in San Francisco 
was teaching a workshop at Ballymaloe

Chad Robertson in cork!!! teaching a workshop that I can attend!!
I have been a massive fan of Tartine for some years and have dabbled in his country bread
although I must admit I found the prospect of starters and leavens a little intimidating 

I literally felt like a 5 year old waiting for Christmas 
And finally the day came last week 

Firstly this was my first visit to Ballymaloe
and most certainly will not be my last 
The Weather was not on my side but I still managed a stroll around the impressive gardens

Now that is a herb garden !! (below)

I ate dinner at Ballymaloe house on the first night 
(the cookery school is about 2 miles away)
Local, fresh, they make their own butter and cheese and of course bread 
and grow their own vegetables
Each day the menu is designed around what is fresh and available 

 Mackerel to start 
and then slices of sirloin with spinach and Ballymaloe potatoes

The following morning after eating a delicious breakfast 
Day 1 began 
Darina introduces Chad

Chad talks us through the process as Richard his right hand man 
gets busy mixing the doughs

I would say the message of the morning was pay attention to your environment
Your starter and leaven are living things 
they react to room temperature drafts etc 
be aware of what is going on with your dough

Chad is an intuitive baker
and talked more about look, feel, smell 
than measurements and scales

I am not going to post the recipe for the bread as if you are familiar with Tartine 
then you have the book
and if you are not and you want to make the best bread of your life then buy it 

The recipe in the book is 38 pages long
and I will not do it the injustice of writing a synopsis

Chad talked about the autolysse (initial resting of the dough) 
and the resting and turning of the dough
and the hydration (water percentage)
This dough is WET!
after resting and turning for about 3 hours 
and leaving for a bench rest 
Richard and Chad got to the shaping 

Chad shaping the dough
Chad makes it look very easy ......

In the afternoon the discussion was about Chad's new book (available end of November)
and how his travels to 
Denmark and Sweden had influenced his baking 
He is looking at darker breads 
and using a lot of sprouted grains
I look forward to getting it 
Richard cuts the Rugbrod for tasting

Me the groupie with Chad and Richard

The real highlight came though on the second day 
when we actually got to go into the kitchen with Chad and Richard and mix a dough 
What an honour
and Richard and Chad were so gracious and patient
as the attendees ranged from the experienced chef 
like Skye Gyngell to the complete novice 

Me and Skye

At 2 o'clock I left Ballymaloe
with 2 doughs in plastic bags nestled around a 2 litre of cold milk 
to try and stall the fermentation process while i drove home 

then when i got home, 4 hours later, I tipped them into bread baskets 
left them for 2 hours and baked 
and without a doubt the BEST bread I have ever made 
a light crust 
a chewy centre
complex flavour
This bread has no equal 

So Thank you Richard and Chad 
It was a privilege


  1. Helen

    Loved this whole post!

    felt as if we were there - pulling the dove grey cashmere scarf a little tighter against the wind, tasting the salted butter and the warm doughy gorgeousness of the sliced-freshly-loaf.


    thank you for sharing this.


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