The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

San Francisco Style Sourdough

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San Francisco Style Sourdough

San Francisco Style Sourdough
JMonkey

I don’t make white breads very often, but I make this one every so often to satisfy the occasional, overpowering hankering. If you like, you can substitute whole wheat flour for up to half of the white flour, or you can simply use a whole wheat starter. You’ll probably want to increase the water, though by 1 to 3 Tbs.

Formula:
White flour: 100%
Salt: 2%
Water: 72%
30% of the flour is in the starter. (I’ll give two recipes, one for starter at 100% hydration and another at 60% hydration)

Ingredients
White flour: 500 grams or about 4 cups
Salt: 10 grams or 1.25 tsp
Water:

  • Using a wet starter: 210 grams or 1 cup MINUS 1 Tbs
  • Using a stiff starter: 270 grams or 1 cup +3 Tbs

Starter: Two options

  • Wet starter (100% hydration) 300 grams or 1 ¼ cup
  • Stiff starter (60% hydration) 240 grams or 1 cup

Mixing
Dissolve the starter into the water, and then add the salt. Finally add the flour and mix until all is hydrated.

Dough development and the first rise
However you develop the dough, from the time you mix until the time you shape the dough, it’ll take about 3 to 4 hours for the first rise at room temperature.

Shaping
Be gentle. You want to retain as many of those air bubbles as possible. Rounds and batards are the traditional shapes for San Francisco-style sourdoughs.

Second rise and retarding
Sourdoughs benefit quite a bit from retarding – many people think loaves that have been retarded taste better. You can simply cover the shaped dough and place it in the fridge or, if you’re lucky and the overnight temperature will be between 45 and 55, you can simply place it outside, in which case the bread will probably be ready to bake when you wake up.

If you put it in the fridge, it’ll need to warm up for 3-4 hours to complete its rise.

If you don’t want to bother with retarding, you can let it rise for another 2 to 3 hours at room temperature. You can also speed things up (and increase sourness) by placing the dough on an upturned bowl in the bottom of a picnic cooler, throwing a cup of boiling water in the bottom and covering it quickly. After an hour, throw another cup of hot water in. The rise should only take a couple of hours this way.

Baking
Score the bread as you like. Hash marks are traditional for rounds, and batards usually take a single, bold stroke down the center or a couple of baguette-style slashes.

While you can certainly bake this bread on a cookie sheet, it benefits from a stone and some steam, or a covered baker. However you do it, bake at 450 degrees for about 35-40 minutes.