Obsessed: New Tartine-Centric Baking Blog, Tar-Tryin'

If there's one thing that San Franciscans can agree on it's the ridiculous tastiness of Tartine Bakery. So, one can only imagine the agony of moving away from our fair city and being deprived of those morning, noon, and night runs for bowls of bread pudding and the best buns on the planet.
But that's exactly the dilemma one expat, Emily Kastner, found herself facing, when she packed up and moved to Michigan. Her solution: Creating a Julie & Julia-style blog (without ever seeing the movie or reading the book), in which she attempts every single recipe out of the oft-gifted Tartine cookbook. Her blog, Tar-Tryin', has her attempting to master everything from the perfect quiche to zesty almond-lemon tea cake, and everything in between. Just why is Kastner doing this, and how's it going so far? Check out our Q&A with her after the jump, along with a tummy rumble-inducing Instagram photo diary! Who's ready for some carbs?
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Why did you decide to start this project?
"I got the cookbook as a wedding gift four years ago and have never made anything from it. Living in San Francisco, I used it as more of a menu; I'd look through with every intent to make something, would spot a beautiful picture, then would hop on a bus to Tartine and get it straight from the source. No dirty dishes to clean up! Since we've moved back to Michigan, I honestly have dreams of Tartine. You know, Inception-like dreams, where everything seems so real and I'm sitting on the patio of Tartine with Leonardo DiCaprio, eating banana cream tarts on the sunniest day ever. Then I wake up, I'm bummed, and I'm hundreds of miles away from that bakery!"

Emily in her Michigan kitchen.

Photo: Courtesy of Emily Kastner
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Were you inspired by the Julie & Julia movie or book?
"Honestly, I've never seen the movie or read the book. A friend declared, 'You're Julie Powell!' and I nodded and smiled like I knew who she was talking about. It took a few minutes to realize she was talking about that Julie. When I decided to tackle this conquest I didn't even think of those ladies. It makes sense that's the first question out of anyone's mouth when I talk about what I'm doing because it's the same concept — documenting things as you navigate your way through a cookbook. I still need to check out this movie though! I recently bought the book, so I'm that much closer to understanding the comparisons!"

An Apple Nougatine Tart.

Photo: Courtesy of Emily Kastner
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What's been the easiest Tartine dish to make?
"Caramel apples were the easiest so far. I thought it would prove more difficult than other recipes since it involved a thermometer, which implies precision and accuracy. But really, you throw it all in a saucepan, watch it reach a certain temperature, let it cool a bit, then dunk some apples. I'm not quite sure why the authors didn't just write that simple sentence for the recipe."

Caramel Apples.

Photo: Courtesy of Emily Kastner
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What about the hardest one?
"Croissants, which were the first thing I made for the project, would win the title for most difficult. In my blog post about the process, I liken it to that stage of dating after the initial magic has dissipated and you're left questioning your every move. Did I do that right? Did I say the right thing? Should I wait to call him? Should I tell him I love him? You know, those usual questions that make you certifiably crazy. That's what baking croissants is like. And, it's a several-day process, so the worry and anxiety really lingers around in a weird cloud. Then, all of a sudden you have these amazing croissants, and the world is all sunshine and rainbows and Leslie Knope."

Tricky Croissants.

Photo: Courtesy of Emily Kastner
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I mean...can we get an award for the cutest kitchen assistant ever?!

Photo: Courtesy of Emily Kastner
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What Tartine dish do you miss most from the bricks-and-mortar bakery?
"Those morning buns make me swoon! I do enjoy a good croque monsieur. Their bread is amazing and I love it. If you love it why don't you marry it, you ask? Ugh...I wish I could."

Emily's Almond Rochers.

Photo: Courtesy of Emily Kastner
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Why the Tartine cookbook?
"I've always been so fascinated with bakeries! So, many of my pictures of France are photos of bakery windows! Since I love and miss the Tartine Bakery so much, it just made sense for me to fall in love with their cookbook before I ever baked a thing from it. The book just patiently sat on the shelf, waiting for me to do something with it, but the mere thought of approaching one of these recipes was a bit nerve-wracking. It's filled with fancy recipes that are paired with wonderful pictures, and it's written in this narrative style, with a built-in fancy ribbon bookmark — it's all just very intimidating! That being said, it seemed like a challenge that I wanted and needed. I'm quickly finding that the intimidation barrier was pretty psychological, because these recipes are proving to be so easy and accessible. I mean they do require attention and focus, but they are totally manageable."

Apple Crisp.

Photo: Courtesy of Emily Kastner
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Mmmmm...Hazelnut Biscotti and, naturally, a Four Barrel mug.

Photo: Courtesy of Emily Kastner
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How far are you into the cookbook?
"I think there are around a hundred recipes in the book, some of which you make over and over — like flaky tart dough for all sorts of different tarts. You may even have to make them even more than planned if your two-year-old sneaks it off of the cooling rack! As of now, I am approaching the eighth recipe. In other words, the gun just went off at the beginning of a marathon. That's where I am."

Catch the rest of Emily's adventures in Tartine baking, here!

Quiche, Pre-Oven.

Photo: Courtesy of Emily Kastner