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Tartine “Best Loaf” Webisode One

Written By Peter Reinhart
Monday, 09 May 2011 Webisodes

The Best Loaf of Bread

Tartine Bakery and Cafe is located on the corner of 18th St. at 600 Guerrero St. and is, like every shop in San Francisoc’s one block “Gastro District,” a total gem. It is the creation of Chad Robertson (baker extraordinaire) and his wife Elizabeth Prueitt (pastry chef supreme). As you will see in this webisode, you just want to eat everything that the eye takes in. If I still lived in San Francisco — and I once did live just blocks from where Tartine now is but, alas, it didn’t exist till much later — I would probably start everyday there with a pastry and a cappuccino and then return around 3 PM to grab one of the loaves you’re about to see. Our tour guide in this segment is Eric Wolfinger, who was one of the bakers at Tartine at the time we shot this video but has since moved on to a number of other interesting projects, including photographer of Chad’s new Tartine bread book. At the time, Eric lived upstairs from the bakery, so, in the next segment you will see us climbing the fire escape up to his apartment where he will make us a pizza on the same dough used to make the astounding French country loaves in this episode.

By the way, Chad was present when we shot this, working away in the background on his breads, and you will catch a quick glimpse of him shaping loaves on the work bench (he’s the one with the beard). I’ve been following his career as a bread baker ever since, as a young man, he had a bakery in Marin County, near Point Reyes National Park–one of the first wood-fired bakers I knew of who was able to build up a viable commercial bakery. But when he and Elizabeth made the move to Guerrero St. and opened Tartine, they really took it to another level. Chad found a way to transition from a wood fired oven to a much larger, gas fired French deck oven without losing any quality, and is now able to make a lot more people happy. The Tartine empire is growing, as they have now opened a restaurant and bar around the corner on Valencia St. called Bar Tartine, and the hits just keep on coming.

What’s significant about the success of Tartine is how Chad and Elizabeth, like many others of the past twenty five years or so (maybe we should call it the Alice Waters Generation, since she’s the iconic personification of what so many others are now emulating), found a way to stay true to their artisan values and bring so much joy to others. We went to “The Gastro” specifically to film at Pizzeria Delfina, yet we were so captivated by what was going on right next door that we spent an extra day just to get some of Tartine on film for you. We’ll continue this Tartine series next time, upstairs, baking a killer pizza in a small home oven, using Tartine’s perfect bread dough.


Jay Forrest

Nice story, Peter!

I began working on the Tartine recipe last summer and got it into pretty good shape and visited the bakery last fall. A real treat. Chad’s approach has definitely influenced my personal bread style. And helped me move the lever up another notch!

Thanks for the story!

Jeff Keith

Where might I find the recipe? Best recipe I’ve found yet comes from the book, 52 Loaves. I built a wood-fired oven in my backyard and discovered Pizza Mozza’s dough recipe which is by far the best pizza dough recipe out there, but have yet to find a bread recipe that can work with the oven.

Jay Forrest

The recipe is in the book Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson published last year. Half the book is about how he makes the bread. There are a few variations – and quite a few ideas for using old bread.


Hello, I recently bought Chad’s book “Tartine” I have made the bread recipe 4 times and the bread is fantastic, my question though is about the size of the loaf. In the video above the loaves are almost twice the size of mine at home. Mine seem to rise fine and just about hit the lid of the 6 qt. dutch oven so I was curious if the ones at the his bakery have a different quantity of ingredients ? Thanks, Kevin

Jay Forrest

Tartine Bakery’s loaves are both somewhat larger and differently shaped than the loaves described in the book. Loaves in the book are smaller so they will fit in the cast iron cooker.

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