The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

San Francisco

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Ivan.Z's picture

If I only visit one bakery in San Francisco area, which one should it be?

April 16, 2013 - 8:37am -- Ivan.Z

Hi TFL,

I'm Sacramento on business and will be visiting some friends in Monterey over the weekend, so I'll only pass through SF for a few hours. I'd love to use this as a chance to get a taste of 'real' San Francisco Sourdough. As true to the core as it gets. So which bakery would you recommend? Acme Bread? Something else?

By the way, is it worth the effort to buy some 'authentic' starter and go through the hassle of feeding it in a hotel room to take it back home some 2 weeks later?

 

Thanks,

Ivan

Yeasty Boy's picture
Yeasty Boy

Hello. I'm a noob to this forum and I'd like first to thank everyone here for such informative content as I've found it rather easy to navigate and research the information necessary to score a perfect success with my very first baking effort ever, and to produce the finest pizza I have ever had the priveledge to bake and eat.

Joyful Whisper's picture

What is it with San Francisco sourdough?

February 7, 2012 - 6:05am -- Joyful Whisper

Read several articles but none really tell me what makes San Francisco sourdough so special. Some say it is REAL sour dough, others say it is just a hint of sour. Several say it is the delightfully crunchy crust that make it special, others it is all about the crumb.

If San Francisco Sourdough is the ideal sourdough bread I would love to know what it is that makes it worth striving for.

totels's picture

Any SF bakers willing to donate a little starter?

January 9, 2012 - 9:18pm -- totels

I have been travelling for 2 1/2 years with my starter and I finally left it behind by accident. I am visiting some friends in SF and meant to bring my Starter with me and mistakenly left it behind at another friends place in LA. Are there any SF bakers with a fresh sourdough that might be willing to donate a sample I can bake with this week? I took a chance and asked at Tartine, but they shot me down. :(

Feeling naked w/o my starter, help! (I'm in Potrero, but the busses here are amazing so I can come get it probably just about anywhere.)

Thanks!

Redrummy's picture

California bio culture via Californian honey?

December 1, 2011 - 12:17am -- Redrummy

Hello,

I've been experimenting with different starters and still havn't had any luck getting a good sour bread. I have ordered a few San Francisco starters but I've been told that they wont last long before the local yeast and bacteria take over. One thing I wondered is if you were to source honey from California, shouldn't that contain the local yeast and hopefully lactobacillus? If this idea were to work, anyone could create and maintain a SF sourdough starter. Any thoughts?

loydb's picture
loydb

I got some of the San Francisco sourdough culture from http://www.sourdo.com/. I decided to make two different starters -- one that was fed nothing but King Arthur Bread Flour, the other fed nothing but home-milled hard red and hard white wheat. Both produced extremely active cultures within 4 days of 12-hour feedings. I used the basic sourdough bread recipe from BBA, using KA Bread Flour for one, and an 85% extraction sifting of hard red wheat (13%) for the second. Both were given a light wash of egg yolk whisked with milk before the seasame seeds were sprinkled on. They had a 5 hour bulk fermentation and a 2.5 hour final proof.

The KA rolls were crunchy on the outside, but were very much 'white bread'-like on the inside. My wife likes them, I'm thinking about turning them into french toast. They have almost no sour flavor at all, and not much depth. The whole wheat rolls, on the other hand, have a more assertive sour flavor (but still nowhere near King Arthur's New England sourdough). They also (unsurprisingly) have way, way more flavor overall.

I'm going to keep both alive and separate and try again in a few weeks. I'll also try a much longer bulk fermentation.


King Arthur Bread Flour 


Whole Wheat

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

I came across the following link/article on Lactobacillus San Francisco posted in 2004 by Mark Preston on a site called “Danger! Men Cooking!”  http://dangermencooking.blogspot.com/2004/10/i-promised-to-write-about-fermented.html

The article describes how over several weeks one could replicate the SF Sourdough culture started by Isadore Boudin himself in 1849.  And be able to maintain it locally with minimal effort after the initial series of builds and at the recommended temperature for various steps.

This article is fascinating because many posts on TFL and the web in general say that any culture purchased or created will eventually assume the characteristics of the bacteria naturally present on the wheat, i.e. being local to where the wheat was grown.  Or that over time it assumes the characteristics of the wild bacteria present in the bakery/household in which the culture is maintained. Or a combination of both, which to me seems to be plausible- i.e. that once started from say a purchased culture, you cannot maintain it.  Is in fact that assumption correct?

The author says otherwise referencing a $192 technical book “HANDBOOK OF DOUGH FERMENTATIONS by Karel Kulp and Klaus Lorenz. (NY: Marcel Dekker, c.2003), some 328 pages long.  The book is listed on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Handbook-Dough-Fermentations-Science-Technology/dp/0824742648

To quote: “Well theories on that point differ radically. Some say the microorganisms are wild and floating around in the air. Others speculate that the quality of the flour has much to do with the fermentations. I have read a serious scientific paper on the quantity of lactobacillus microorganisms being greater on wheat near humanly populated areas than wheat in less populated areas. Another research paper says that there are about 400 types of microorganisms in a fermenting loaf. Other papers say that the sanfranciscensis microorganism is about 36% of that 400, that is to say, by quantity it predominates, naturally. So the question becomes how to nurture those San Francisco organisms along and not get anything bad going. That's what the Handbook of Dough Fermentations is all about. The piece of information lacking was to not make bread after two to three or four days, but that the starter needed about two to three weeks of refreshments. And it needed specific amounts of water and flour and at very specific intervals.”

Boudin is the oldest sourdough bakery in San Francisco. Mr. Boudin came from a village along the Swiss French border. The boat trip across the ocean allowed no baking so it likely took weeks of feeding to establish the culture. The Boudin Bakery still uses the same starter and the production method at the bakery also has to be taken into account.  I can honestly say it is the best sourdough that I have ever tasted and a must stop attraction for those visiting the Wharf in San Francisco.

My homemade culture using fresh ground rye has thrived for years.  Over time I have come to have a better understanding of some of the variables that we control to target a given bread style. These variables combined with the fermentation times and temperatures allows for an infinite range of bread styles – from a hardly noticeable and not desirable sour (baguettes) to the high levels typical in Northern/Eastern Europe as in Polish, Czech, German or Russian ryes. 

The essential elements are by controlling the buildup for a given bake in terms of:

1)       Intervals between feedings/buildup

2)       Percentage of starter used in the final recipe

3)       Temperature during the builds

4)       Hydration levels of the starter ranging from stiff to very loose (75% to 150%, each giving a different characteristic).

5)       Fermentation time and temperature of the dough

Yet as good as they are, the taste is not that of Lactobacillus Sanfranciscensis.  Should I be happy?  Yes.  Yet the pursuit of bread perfection is never achieved and continues!

The feeding cycle expansion from the initial start point is 312,500 times!  And the feeding cycles alternate between 8 and 16 hour cycles and follow specific temperature guidelines.  The author says after a few weeks you will have it.  Note: regarding the build table shown, there is a typo in the row that shows 12,500 water – the flour amount should be 10,000 not 1,000. 

In summary, a very interesting read that represents one approach that surely is not the final word on the subject.  There are many articles on the web regarding Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis and Candida milleri, likely counter to some of the points raised in the post.  This is leading me to do more research and explore other information on the web regarding this infamous grouping of complementary bacterias.  

I would also like to hear from people that may have purchased the SF cultures and whether or not they evolved over time to something other than when started?  That would seem an easy way to start if in fact one could maintain it so it doesn’t evolve away going forward.   Thanks to all…

ngabriel's picture

ok! Extremely Confused and frustrated!

April 29, 2011 - 8:48am -- ngabriel

Hi all, I have SEVERAL questions, and just find myself becoming more and more confused and frustrated the more I try to dig and research these topics out. I am hoping someone can help me. Here are my questions: 


 


1. I do NOT like SOUR tasting bread. However, I like the idea of having my own self-propagating starter. Is there any way to have a starter that will prodice bread that is not SOUR? 


 

Earlybirdsf's picture
Earlybirdsf

Just made a trip out to Central Milling, which is actaully called "Keith Giusto Bakery Supply". They have moved into a new location. 755 Southpoint Blvd, Petaluma, CA. 866-979-2253


They have a very large selection of organic bulk flours. Now, you can call ahead, and they will pack 5lb bags. They ask that you please call ahead though, otherwise, you will wait for some time. If you are buying in 25 or 50lb bags, no problem.


Under construction, is a Bakery School, on site, that will be open soon.


Please email me your contact, if you are intersted in bulk flour. We were told that if enough of us order, they will deliver to SF, as they deliver to the Ferry Bldg twice a week.


Earl


 


 

Paddy Last's picture

San Francisco

March 9, 2009 - 1:03am -- Paddy Last

Hi all,


I'm new a new member but have been using this website and baking bread for over a year. I'm living in Singapore which is a bit of a desert in terms of artisan baking. The wife and I are planning a holiday to the US in April including about 4 days of exploring SF. I'm extremely excited to be visiting such an important baking city. I was wondering if you could recommend a few key bread places for us to visit. Just two or three will be plenty. My wife won't let me distract her from shopping for very long. 

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