“Perfection would be finding that mythical bread that’s in my mind,” said
Her quest started several years ago when a friend of Parker’s returned from an extended stay in Paris talking of nothing other than Tartine. Curious, Parker and a small group of amateur baking friends vowed to recreate the bread in their home kitchens.
The sourdough loaf is best recognized by its dark, crispy crust and moist interior with sizable holes. It is classically used as a sliced, open-faced sandwich bread in France and often serves as a canvas for spreads like tapenade, meats, cheeses and sliced vegetables. It’s been made popular in California by dedicated bakeries like Tartine Manufactory and Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.
Parker’s method attempts total perfection, starting with the first ingredient - salt.
“I wanted it to taste like Santa Barbara ocean water,” she said of her practice of collecting buckets of local ocean water and extracting the salt. “I did compare it to other salts and there was a difference, it was almost like a physical reaction on the tongue.” The process of taking the salt from bucket to kitchen takes about three days.
Salt is one of only three ingredients in Tartine — flour and water are the other two — but the sourdough recipe can span upwards of two pages incorporating slight details about timing and temperature.
Parker bakes the bread in an imported Italian
It takes about two days to make a loaf of
“I have to get everything right,” said Patrick Melroy, an artist, home bread baker
In the kitchen, Parker finished a batch of decorative tartine and as she pulled the bread from the oven, she held a loaf near her ear. “As it cools it crackles,” she said with a laugh. “And I’m listening… I’m listening.”
If you want to try Parker’s