Almost every morning, for the past 16 years, Tartine Bakery opens to a line already wrapped around the block, full of first-time visitors and regulars alike, all ravenously hoping to snag a still-warm, cinnamon-sugary morning bun or giant croissant before they inevitably sell out. The queue ebbs and flows throughout the day, but the tiny space is seldom empty. At 4pm, the afternoon rush rivals that of the morning, as San Franciscans clamber to get ahold of one of their coveted baguettes of which only a select number are baked per day, and which will surely be gone by sunset.
No matter where you live, you’ve likely heard of Tartine, whose name has become nearly synonymous with sourdough. The brainchild of baker Chad Robertson and his wife, pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt, it began as a modest corner shop in San Francisco’s Mission District, years before the neighborhood took off as the city’s culinary mecca.
Since opening in 2002, their standout Country Bread has received unceasing accolades from food critics and carb-devotees alike, for its crunchy outer crust and impossibly soft, chewy inside that would almost be a crime to slather with butter. Hailed by many as “The best bread I’ve ever tasted!,” Robertson patiently outlines (for ambitious home chefs) the bread-making technique he’s perfected for over two decades over 38-pages in his cookbook, Tartine Bread.
The loaf that launched a thousand ships has earned Tartine a rep for pastry perfection that has since resulted in four best-selling cookbooks, a second location and a restaurant and bar in San Francisco known as Tartine Manufactory, (not to mention a freshly-inaugurated bakery in Seoul, South Korea, which opened just in time for this year’s Winter Olympics).
Still ahead however, remains the biggest Tartine reveal to date: a massive Manufactory in DTLA’s The Row, set to open this spring. Set in a 38,500-square-foot former warehouse, the space comes with elaborate plans that far outscore anything they’ve ever done.
Prueitt says she is looking forward to having more space, a luxury not always afforded in San Francisco. “Anyone who has had to make do with cramped kitchen space longs for this kind of breathing room,” she explains. “And we’ve never had enough seating space, so this will help take care of that.”
And there will, of course, still be the famed baked goods made at the in-house bakery and mill, with an open kitchen where top bakers will lovingly craft brioche, cookies, loaves and the like, from noon till night.
“Although the scope is large, we are editing down to favorites and focusing on them, keeping our training tight and quality high,” says Prueitt, adding that adaptability and creativity are essential to the brand’s continued success.
“You wouldn’t think that there would still be things to learn in bread making with only three ingredients, but Chad is always coming home saying he’s figured some new thing out,” she laughs.
The new locale will also serve Coffee Manufactory, their foray into coffee culture that focuses on small-batch, sustainably sourced coffee, with an onsite roastery that will exhibit the roasting process to Manufactory visitors. At the coffee lab, baristas will serve your coffee — latte, cold brew, or straight up. Prueitt says it’s a natural addition to their illustrious offerings.
“It’s something that many bakeries dream of, since we sell so much coffee,” she explains, noting that the process isn’t all so different from bread making. “Coffee is also a product that is fermented, so I like the synergy of that with our bread making.”
A snazzy, all-day marketplace, Manufactory will serve gourmet cheese and charcuterie, plus other fancy bites. For the project, Robertson reigned in friend and artisanal pizza legend, Chris Bianco, who will grace the market with seasonal, al-taglio-style pizzas. Upon embarking on the project, Bianco recently told Bloomberg that Robertson envisioned, “a Disneyland for bakers and people who dig food.”
Just as in the San Francisco Manufactory, a soft serve and scoop bar will offer homemade ice cream with seasonal flavors dreamt up by Prueitt and her team… plus doughnuts in the morning. She says the introduction of ice cream into the Tartine world was inspired by one ingredient:
“When I discovered we had buffalo milk available locally, I knew exactly the style of ice cream I wanted to make — not the higher fat content ice cream that has been popular lately,” she explains, but rather by “using the combination of soft serve technology with the higher fat of buffalo milk (which also happens to have more protein and less water than cow’s milk).”
Eventually, the team also hopes to open a dinner only trattoria within the space, complete with an evolving menu, open-kitchen and full service bar.
Though the gourmet myriad is still under construction, Southern California residents can try a cup of Coffee Manufactory’s delicious brew at the new Fred Segal Cafe on Sunset Boulevard.
For the rest of us non-Californians, a bite of Tartine heaven is still within reach. Below, glimpse the recipe for Prueitt’s Cornmeal Ricotta Upside-Down Cake, a fruity, spring-forward take on cheesecake that is delicious served on its own, or topped with seasonal fruits like peaches, apricots and blueberries.
Says dessert master, Prueitt: “Because the oranges create its topping, it doesn’t really need anything else, although an argument could always be made for ice cream!”
CORNMEAL RICOTTA UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE INGREDIENTS
Butter, unsalted, for the pan
½ cup Light or Dark Brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons Water
2 Oranges, very thinly sliced
½ cup Butter, unsalted, at room temperature
¾ cup Granulated Sugar
3 Large Eggs, separated, (reserve egg whites)
¾ cup Ricotta Cheese, (homemade or store-bought)
Zest, finely grated
Juice of 3 Lemons
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon Stone-Ground Cornmeal
1 cup + 1 tablespoon Almond Flour
CORNMEAL RICOTTA UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE ASSEMBLY
1 | Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with 3 inch x 7.5 centimeter sides of parchment paper cut to fit exactly. Butter the sides of the pan.
2 | In a small bowl, mix the brown or granulated sugar and water together to form a paste, and then spread it across the bottom of the pan. Arrange the orange slices on top of the sugar paste, overlapping them with one in the center. Try to cover as much of the bottom of the pan as possible. (The slices will shrink slightly during baking.)
3 | In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and creamy (about one minute).
4 | Add the yolks one at a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Add the ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Beat to combine.
5 | Mix the cornmeal and almond flour into the egg-ricotta mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
6 | In another bowl, whisk the reserved egg whites to soft peaks. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten whites into the cake batter until no white streaks are visible. (The batter will be very thick.)
7 | Immediately turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
8 | Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the top of the cake is no longer shiny. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. To unmold, run a butter knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and then release and lift off the pan sides. Invert the cake, remove the pan bottom, peel off the parchment and serve.
9 | The cake will keep, well wrapped, for up to four days at room temperature or about one week in the refrigerator.