The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough, San Francisco

KittyKat's picture

Sourdough, San Francisco

Hello All,

Am new in town and was hoping to find a recipe for "San Francisco" Sourdough like my mother used to make. I'm not sure if she made "true" SFSD, but I recall that it had a lovely, wide open crumb and thin but crisp crust and rose like a dream (she may have used a combination of sourdough starter and active yeast). She made boules which had lovely oven spring and held their shape, without proofing in any kind of basket or pan. Am sure she used all white AP "Robin Hood" brand flour from the US, but am not sure that's essential. Can anyone help with a good recipe?

Also (and this is the embarassing bit), I live in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and it is hard to find decent "hard" flour here with a high gluten content. Can anyone recommend the some decent hard flour which I can readily find here? Ironically, even though the best bread I have ever eaten was in France, I haven't produced a good loaf since I arrived in Europe! Average Europeans do not tend to bake anything these days and flour in the supermarkets comes in one varierty -- low-gluten and in small bags. Does the origin of the flour even matter? Are European-grown flours OK? I do have access to ONE decent French-style bakery here (the Netherlands is not France as far as the food is concerned), but $5 a loaf is killing me and the stingy baker won't even disclose the name or origin of the flour he uses.

If anyone is familiar with European breads, I have to admit I'm not overly crazy about Poilane (too big, too barnyardy, too sour for me) but I do like Paul's pain de compagne as an every day loaf. Unfortunately the only Pauls in the Netherlands is at the airport! So...I'm reduced to my baker's blackmail or trying to perfect my own loaf at home (and my LITERAL "Dutch oven" is so small I at first thought it was a microwave!). Any advice on how to circumvent stingy bakers and tiny "Dutch" ovens appreciated.




Floydm's picture

David makes an SF Sourdough fairly often.  You might look back through his blog and find a formula you like.

Yes, I believe you are correct that the average European flour is lower protein than American AP flour.  If you could track down some French Type 55 or 65 flour you'd be in heaven, but I don't know where to point you.   Good luck!

rockfish42's picture

Take a quick trip to the UK and get some strong bread flour? Here's a recipe from the uk that looks to produce something along those lines

Glare Seethe's picture
Glare Seethe

I think your best bet is to buy flour straight from a mill, either in the Rotterdam area or online. As you said, the supermarkets only carry the very basic kind and at least here in Amsterdam I haven't been able to find any stores or mills or such.

I like De Zuidmolen - they're all the way near Nijmegen, so nowhere near you, but they have many kinds of flour and were very helpful when I contacted them with some questions. I don't know if they carry stronger flour than in the supermarkets, but just email them and ask. You would have to do the math and check if it's worthwhile for you to make an order online, though. They also carry the aforementioned French type 55 and 65 - I wasn't able to find them in other mills' online shops.

Alternatively you could check the biological shops but they are crazy expensive. When I bought rye flour at the Natuurwinkel it was 1,79 euro for 500g; I bought a 5kg bag from de Zuidmolen for 4,20 or so... so way cheaper, also when you factor in the shipping costs, as long as you can go through that much flour before it expires.

I also only have a very small oven and the worst thing about it is that the bread doesn't brown evenly. Even on the lowest rack the top browns far too quickly - I have to keep an eye and some aluminum foil ready. Other than that it gets the job done, though.

LVautier's picture


Have you tried going to De Distilleerketel in the Delfshaven area of Rotterdam?

Here is a link to an information page.

I wasn't making bread when I went there so I haven't tried their flours for bread making.  They do have gluten that you can buy to add to flours.  Their maismeel was much more delicious than anything I have had before.  I was finally able to taste why cornmeal made from the whole grain was so highly recommended.  Also I remember the prices as being reasonable compared to the healthfood store prices.

I recently bought flour from a molen in Delft and when I did a clump test it stayed pretty compact so I am estimating that it has a fairly low gluten content.

I haven't really met any nonprofessionals who make real bread, especially not sourdoughs.  I do know a couple of great bakeries.  Since I usually have to travel to get their bread I finally started my own sourdough starter.

I am still in the steepest part of the learning curve on making my own bread, particularly when you factor in the differences we encounter here in ingredients and equipment.

Good Luck