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Chad Robertson's 5 Essential Tips for Baking Bread

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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: All week, Chad has been walking us through the recipe for his Oat Porridge Bread. Today, he's sharing a few more tips. Read them, learn them, love them, then go start your starter. 

Porridge Bread on Food52

Here are the most important factors to keep in mind when you're baking naturally leavened bread:

Temperature of the environment: This dictates what yeast and bacteria will come into play, and what processes will take place. Naturally leavened, long-fermented bread is a microcosm and ambient temperature is critical in dictating the next steps of fermentation.

Specific stages of smell and aroma: Dough undergoes a series of states during the fermentation process where different yeasts and bacteria inhabit it. Becoming intimately connected with the processes and well versed in the specific stages of smell and aroma are central to becoming an intuitive baker.

Patience: Bread baking is not an immediate process. There are many steps involved and many nuances at play. As the baker, you are constantly adjusting in response to these variables based on your knowledge of the medium -- and your patience.

More: For those of you with a little less patience, Chad has a speedier recipe: Apple Walnut Tea Cake.

Working with the nature of the dough: Like I started to mention above, dough is continually shaped by its environment -- a range of uncharted variables. Since there are so many ways little conditions can affect the final loaf, you’re constantly making slight adjustments. Baking bread is not about controlling the process; it’s about guiding the fermentation. You are there to act as a catalyst for what the dough naturally wants to do.

Depth of flavor and texture: My bread has a deep, crackly crust and a soft, moist crumb. For me, it’s a balance between these textures. Using high hydration, naturally leavened dough and initially baking at a high heat then lowering the temperature imbues each boule with sufficient oven spring and layers of caramelization.

More: Are you ready? Here's Chad's recipe for Oat Porridge Bread.

Photo by Chad Robertson

Tags: Oat, Oatmeal, Bake, DIY Food, How-To & Diy, Guest Editors