The Fresh Loaf

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san franciso sourdough bread

rossnroller's picture

Having recently tried Syd's version of a San Fran SD, I thought it was a good time to revisit DM Snyder's very different version. When I baked it a couple of months ago, my sense of taste had been annihilated by a shocker of a head cold, so was curious to try it again now that I'm back to salivating, savouring, gluttonous normality.

I don't have an electric mixer or bannetons, so I modified David's recipe accordingly, but otherwise sought to stay as true to his recipe/directions as possible. The starter and dough mix was the same, but of course my local flours differ from David's. And at a temperate 20.5-21C (approx 70F) my ambient temps are now lower than those he baked at. Last time, I had to drastically reduce his bulk and final proof times, as it was evident from the state of the dough that it was ready to rock. The finished bread confirmed this. In fact, it was slightly overproofed - some classic early signs of this are observable in these pics of that bread:


I thought the overproofing might be explained away by the still summerish ambient temps at that time.

As anticipated, on this occasion I was able to stick closer to the proof times David used, since my temps were now so much lower. ie: BP was 4 hours, FP before retardation 1 hour,  retardation was 9 hours @ 5C/40F (fridge temp recently taken). However, I found that I had to completely cut out the post-retardation final proof period, as the shaped dough was clearly ready for the oven on removal from the fridge after its retardation. In fact, it was slightly over-ready - the baked loaf showed signs of overproofing!

I just sliced into some of the bread for lunch, and I must say, I was very impressed with the beautifully developed wheaten flavours - cool and almost creamy to the palate. As with the first bake, I like the textural quality of the crumb, too, which I can only describe as soft yet well structured. And the crust is crisp but not a jawbreaker, just how I like it. Very nice. Notably, though, NO hint of sourness! I don't mind at all, as I'm not a big fan of sour bread, but I do like a mild sour tang, and was expecting this of a SF style SD. I suppose my reduced final proof might have had something to do with the absence of sourness.

I'm still puzzled by the proofing. Even with Syd's SF SD, which he makes in the much higher ambient temps of his Taiwan kitchen, my proof times had to be reduced to avoid over-proofing. I am well aware that fermentation and proofing times should be determined according to the dough, not the clock, and this has long been my modus operandi. Still I wonder, though, why at my kitchen temp of 21C/70F, my fermentation and proof times inevitably need to be reduced from those specified in recipes where ambient temps are around 24C (or in Syd's case, considerably higher). Manic starter? Seems far-fetched. Flour qualities? Maybe...but wish I could get a definitive answer. Any other suggestions, folks?

Here are a couple of pics of today's bake of David's SF SD, which show unmistable signs of overproofing: limited spread of slashes, some tunnelling under the crust and bubbling on the outside, and crumb compression at the base of the loaf. I have to reiterate, however, that the eating qualities of this bread were fine indeed.




Does overproofing explain all this caving? Maybe not - I am thinking the mousehole centre-right might indicate a shaping issue...

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