The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Variation on San Francisco Country Sourdough— BBA Liquid Levain, Central Milling Flours and Dutch Oven

GSnyde's picture

Variation on San Francisco Country Sourdough— BBA Liquid Levain, Central Milling Flours and Dutch Oven


After my baking hiatus, I needed to take another try at variations on my “San Francisco Country Sourdough”.  I made three mini-baguettes and a 800 gram boule. 


I wanted to try this bread with my new favorite flours--Central Milling Co.’s Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft (with malted barley) in place of AP flour, and Central Milling Co.’s Organic Type 85 in place of the whole wheat. Making the BBA Poilane-Style Miche Saturday involved making a larger quantity of liquid levain (what Reinhart calls his "barm") than I needed for the Miche, so I used some leftover levain for the SFCSD.

Once I got all the math done to adjust for the different hydration in the BBA levain, it was all pretty simple.  The mixing, fermenting, dividing, shaping and proofing pretty much followed my previous techniques for this bread. 

The baguettes were proofed on the wondrous linen couche from SFBI, and I’m pretty pleased with the scoring and grigne.  The boule was proofed in a linen-lined banneton.  I tried a different scoring pattern; ok, it ain’t artistic, but it spung.

My main experiment was baking the boule in a cast iron Dutch oven (Lodge 5 quart “Double Dutch Oven”).  I did not preheat the DO, though the oven was pre-heated.  I loaded the loaf on parchment in the lid of the DO.  It didn’t get any color in the first 12 minutes covered, but it sprung some.  Maybe 15 minutes covered would have been better.


It took almost an hour of total baking time to get the right color and internal temperature. Maybe the longer baking time was due to using a lower shelf in my oven to make room for the DO.

In any case, all four loaves came out well.  The flavor of the baguettes is wonderful, but not noticeably different than with KAF flours.  The malt in the Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft may have added a bit to the dark roan color.




Here’s the whole formula.


San Francisco Country Sourdough (12-12-10 variation)

Yield: Two 750g  Loaves or Three Mini-Baguettes (235g each) and one 800g Loaf




140 grams KAF bread flour

140 grams water

26 grams active starter (75% hydration) 

FINAL DOUGH (66% hydration, including levain)

660 grams   Central Milling Organic Artisan Bakers Craft flour (85.7%)

65 grams  Central Milling Organic Type 85 flour (8.5%)

45 grams   BRM Whole rye flour (5.8%)

456 grams   Water at room temperature (59%)

17 grams   Salt (2.2%)

306     Liquid levain  (40%)



1. LIQUID LEVAIN:  Make the final build 8 to 10 hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at about 70°F.  The levain should be bubbly and gluey.  It can be refrigerated once it has activated; if you refrigerate it, make sure you adjust the water temperature in the final dough to compensate.

2. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the levain, but not the salt. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass. Correct the hydration as necessary.  Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for an autolyse phase of 30 to 60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough, and finish mixing 5 minutes. The dough should have a medium consistency.  

3. BULK FERMENTATION WITH S&F:  3 hours. Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl twice 30-strokes at 45-minute intervals.  Place dough ball in lightly oiled bowl, and stretch and fold on lightly floured board at 45 minutes.

4. RETARDED BULK FERMENTATION (optional):   After second S&F on board, form dough into ball and then place again in lightly oiled bowl.  Refrigerate 8-20 hours, depending on sourness desired and scheduling convenience.

5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: Divide the dough into two  pieces (or more for baguettes) and pre-shape.  Let sit on board for 30 minutes, and then shape into boules or batards or baguettes.

6. PROOFING: Approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours at 72° F. Ready when poke test dictates.  Pre-heat oven to 500 with steam apparatus in place.


7. BAKING: With steam, on stone. (or in cast iron Dutch Oven)  Turn oven to 460 °F after steaming (or 475 °F if using DO). Remove steaming apparatus (or DO cover) after 12 minutes. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes total (50-60 minutes if using DO).   Rotate loaves for evenness as necessary.  When done (205 F internal temp), leave loaves on stone with oven door ajar 10 minutes.

Happy Baking.




trailrunner's picture

You are really putting your all into your loaves and technique and it shows. Lovely loaves.

I do leave the lid on my 7.5 qt Le Creuset and my cast iron pot for 15 min. I  preheat my pots for the full 30 min. after the oven reaches 500. They are hot but with the parchment paper to lower them I have had no incidents at all. My cast iron pot is a 5 qt. It makes no difference the size of the pot as the bread doesn't spread. I can put both pots on the same shelf in my oven. 

It does make a difference in the browning if you preheat ,so allow for that I'm thinking, if you are going " cold turkey" with the pot. I lower the oven temp to 460 to get a bold bake as soon as I place the pots back in the oven. I also mist the loaves right before I place the hot lid back over them. Hope these tips help....but really your loaves are so pretty you don't "knead" my help. c

proth5's picture

The doctors at "the place" are trying to help me to let this go, but then someone mentions the linen couche and I just have to say:

Isn't it wonderful after struggling with towels and drop cloths and other substitutes to just buy the right tool and have it enhance the experience so much...

Have fun with your new toy and

Happy Baking!

LindyD's picture

Nice breads, nice color, and nice cuts, Glenn.  I rather like the pattern on your boule.

I emphatically ditto Pat about that SFBI linen couche material.  

It's magic and I'm so enamored with it, I called TMB and had them send out two liners for my brotforms....but only after they promised me they were made of the same linen.

GSnyde's picture

Caroline, Pat and Lindy-- Thanks for the comments.  I do love that couche.  As for the scoring, I'm pretty satisfied with my baguette-scoring progress.  I've only done 5 or 6 boules in my short baking history, so there's lots to learn.  

Thanks for the DO tips, Caroline.  I'll be trying different variations, including pre-heating.


belfiore's picture

Really, really, nice Glenn. I don't think it gets any better than that!


GSnyde's picture

Thanks, Toni.  At this point all of my experiments are edible.  But I hope to keep improving.