Sourdough

Chad Robertson's Tips for Shaping Dough

December 18, 2013

This week's guest editor is Chad Robertson, the man behind San Francisco's über-popular Tartine Bakery. He'll be walking us through how to make one of the Porridge Breads from his latest book, Tartine 3, and sharing bits of baking knowledge along the way.

Today: Chad discusses his technique for shaping dough.

Shaping Bread on Food52 Folding Bread on Food52

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Now that we've discussed making a starter and levain and mixing the dough, let's talk about shaping it.

I don’t knead or punch my dough, since pounding it releases all the natural gases I’ve worked hard to develop -- that’s where much of the gradations in flavor lie. Instead, I like to “turn” my dough to strengthen the gluten. The surface tension that builds as the dough anchors itself to the work surface is a further sign of the dough’s maturing strength. By the end of the shaping, the dough should have a taut, smooth outer surface.

Shaping Loaves on Food52 Shaping Loaves on Food52

Oat Porridge Bread

Makes 2 loaves

500 grams high-extraction wheat flour
500 grams medium-strong wheat flour
70 grams wheat germ
750 grams water
150 grams leaven
25 grams fine sea salt
500 grams cooked oat porridge, cooled
200 grams almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
50 grams almond oil (optional)
Coarsely chopped oat flakes (rolled oats) for coating (optional)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Chad Robertson

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A Texas native, Chad Robertson always knew he wanted to devote himself to a profession that involved the craftsmanship of his hands. Robertson enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York but quickly became entranced by the art of bread baking. Robertson's first apprenticeship was at Berkshire Mountain Bakery under the guidance of Richard Bourdon. There, Robertson worked 12 hour shifts where he would pull 3,000 loaves a day. From there, he - and wife, Elisabeth Prueitt - journeyed to France and the French Alps to continue learning the intricacies of working with wood fired ovens and naturally leavened, long fermented breads. Upon their return, they became involved with Dave Miller in Chico, CA where they continued to hone their skills and understanding, this time with a larger focus on whole grains. Soon after, Robertson and Prueitt moved to Pt. Reyes, CA where they built a modest bakeshop called Bay Village Bakery. It was here that Robertson baked for 18 hours straight with the intent to perfect his technique by focusing on "three ingredients and a world of possibility." After five years in the country, the hum of city life beckoned. In 2002, the couple opened Tartine Bakery, which almost instantaneously became a San Francisco institution. In 2005, the couple opened Bar Tartine, a restaurant that continuously redefines itself and draws inspiration from all corners of the globe. In 2006, Robertson and Prueitt published the Tartine Cookbook (Chronicle Books), in 2010 Robertson published Tartine Bread (Chronicle Books), and in fall of 2013 Robertson published his third book, Tartine Book No. 3 (Chronicle Books). He is the recipient, with his wife, of the 2008 James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef and has been featured in a variety of premier media outlets, including Bon Appetit, Elle, Vogue, Food Arts, Food & Wine, Saveur, and The New York Times. Chad Robertson is considered one of the leaders in naturally leavened bread baking.

1 Comment

JimCooks December 14, 2014
Considering that you work with such a high moisture content, are there tips for working with this dough, especially for the shaping, proofing (keeping its shape, etc.) and for the handling to get it into the oven? Thanks!