At its core, baking is chemistry, and Chad Robertson's bread recipe is scientific in its exactitude. An artisan baker in San Francisco, Roberston has devised an intricate recipe for bread that the New York Times' Suzanne Lenzer says is “nearly perfect”—“a tangy, open crumb encased in a blistered, rugged crust.”
Precision, here, is everything. The recipe measures everything in grams, not cups, liters or tablespoons. And, laid out in Robertson's book, the recipe is 38 pages long, says Lenzer.
You will want to follow along closely, because otherwise you'll be wasting a lot of time. According to the Times' slightly more brief edition of the bread recipe, the whole thing will take you around two weeks from start to finish.
Two weeks for two loaves of bread.
This isn't hands-off “letting the dough rise” time, either. You'll be busy—feeding the starter, folding, dusting, mixing—all by hand. Once you've made your first batch, though, subsequent loaves will take just two days.
Even with all this commitment to precision, says the Times, “every time you bake you’ll most likely get a slightly different outcome. The nature of bread baking at home is unpredictable, not least because you’re working with a living organism. The level of activity of your starter, the humidity in your kitchen, the temperature during the rises — all of these affect your loaf.”
But, even so, the lesson is this: simple ingredients combined with care, patience and skill can sometimes yield the best rewards.