World Chefs: Robertson shares passion for making bread

Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:20am EST
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - For chef Chad Robertson bread is more than just flour, salt and water. It is a staple of life that has played a role in civilizations.

After learning traditional bread-making in France, the 39-year-old Texan moved to northern California where he started a baking business with his wife and pastry chef Elisabeth.

In his latest book "Tartine Bread," Robertson describes how to make loaves like the ones he sells in his bakery and restaurant Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.

He spoke to Reuters about his passion for baking, the importance of natural leavening and why it is a democratic food.

Q: In your book your discussion on how to make basic country bread lasts about 45 pages? Why so long?

A: "On one hand, I understand why it's so intimidating because it's so long. On the other hand, I want to give you a true presentation, as if I am taking a reader on the side as my apprentice working at the bakery with me at the shaping table."

Q: What is the key to making a perfect loaf of bread?

A: "For me, there are always three or four things inherent in any perfect loaf, which would be natural leavening; a very long rise which develops flavors through this fermentation process and using a lot of liquid so it stays moist while you are baking. The more water you have, I think, the more thoroughly cooked the grains get."   Continued...

<p>Chef Chad Robertson is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Eric Wolfinger/Handout</p>