The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

After an Adventure in Nature, Back to the Kitchen – Country-er Sourdough

GSnyde's picture

After an Adventure in Nature, Back to the Kitchen – Country-er Sourdough

Cat and I spent the week of 3/3 through 3/10 on an expedition on the waters and islands around Southern Baja California.  It was a glorious trip, with great up-close encounters with marine mammals and other local fauna.

My camera was busy trying to capture some sense of the wonderful natural world we experienced.

[That's a Grey Whale calf our friend Julie is about to pet]

On our return to civilization, once I got my work life under control, I found time to bake this weekend.  I’m very glad my camera has had some stop-action exercise.  My bread photos are much improved by a faster shutter (it looks like the loaves are lying absolutely still).

I tried a bit of an experiment in sourness.   I took my tried-and-true San Francisco Country Sourdough formula and made it “country-er”.  A bit more rustic and a bit sourer.  I added more whole wheat and more rye (15% of each), used pumpernickel rye in the main dough, increased the hydration to 70% to compensate for the thirstier flour, and lengthened the fermentation time for the levain.

I made three loaves of about 525 grams each, two batards and one boule.  The boule proofed in the basement (about 55 F) so I could bake it in a second batch in my small oven. 

The result was a noticeably sourer, but still only medium-sour, bread, with a bit less open crumb (due to the coarser flour).    This bread, like ones made with the basic SFCSD recipe, has a wonderful light, moist crumb and a moderately chewy crust.  Very delicious.

I will definitely make this bread again.  Maybe even take it up to 25% pumpernickel.

Here’s the new formula and procedure:

San Francisco Country-er Sourdough (Sourdough Pain de Campagne with more rye and whole wheat) version 3-17-12

Yield: 1570 grams: Two 785g Loaves; or Three 523 gram loaves; or…   



88 grams   AP flour

24 grams  Whole Wheat flour

24 grams  light rye flour

170 grams   Water, cold (45 F or so)

28     Mature culture (60% hydration)

FINAL DOUGH (70% hydration, including levain)

540 grams   All-Purpose flour (70%)*

115 grams  Whole wheat flour (15%)**

115 grams   Whole rye flour (15%)***

470 grams   Warm water (80 F or so) (61%)

17 grams   Salt (2%)

312 grams   Liquid levain  (40.5%)   

 3-17 used CM Artisan Baker’s Craft (malted)

** 3-17 used CM Organic Hi-protein fine whole wheat

*** 3-17 used CM Pumpernickel rye



1. LIQUID LEVAIN:  Make the final build 15 or so hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at about 70°F

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 and let stand for an autolyse phase of 60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough, plus a few drops of water to moisten the surface, 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 20-strokes at 60-minute intervals.  If the dough has not increased in size by 75% or so, let it go a bit longer.

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: [Note: if bulk retarded, let dough come to room temperature for 30-90 minutes before pre-shaping.]  Divide the dough into pieces and pre-shape.  Let sit on board for 30 minutes, and then shape into boules or batards or baguettes.

6. PROOFING: Approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours at 72° F. Ready when poke test dictates.  Pre-heat oven to 500 with steam apparatus in place.

7. BAKING: Slash loaves.  Bake with steam, on stone.  Turn oven to 450 °F after it hits 500F after loading loaves.  Remove steaming apparatus after 12 minutes (10 for baguettes). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes total (for 750g loaves; 27 minutes for 500 gram loaves; less for smaller loaves).   Rotate loaves for evenness as necessary.  When done (205 F internal temp), leave loaves on stone with oven door ajar 10 minutes.



gmagmabaking2's picture

Great looking bread... and great pictures... even the whale was clear and crisp!

GSnyde's picture

Thanks, gmagmabaking2.  Always trying to keep my whales crispy.


breadsong's picture

Hi Glenn,
So good to see your Country SD and thanks for sharing the photo from your trip.
Looks like it was a great day to be out on the water!
:^) breadsong

GSnyde's picture

We had lots of lovely days on land and sea.  Wish I had pics of the people swimming with Sea Lion pups.  Both species very cute.


dabrownman's picture

This the kind of bread I like for sandwiches.  Glad the momma whale wasn't upset too!  Petting a baby whale has to be priceless, if a little bit dangerous!!!

GSnyde's picture

Oddly enough, the cows seemed to push the calves toward our boats, as if to have us admire their offspring.


dabrownman's picture

here in the States they have laws that you must stay so far away from whales yo can hardly see them - only to find out the mothers want their babies noticed and push them toward boats in other more sane places.  I'm guessing that moms are going places to get their babies noticed and leaving the restricted zones :-)

dmsnyder's picture

If you want to push the pumpernickel and up the sourness, I recommend you put all the pumpernickel flour you plan on using into your starter feeding and ferment it. I think you will be astonished by the effect.

And once you have the pumpernickel up to 50% or so, you have made Jewish (as opposed to German-style) pumpernickel, minus the coloring ingredients (coffee, caramel coloring, etc.). If Cat likes it, you have overcome her aversion to rye bread. She'll never know, if you don't tell her, ... until you make pastrami sandwiches with it. 


GSnyde's picture

I don’t hide anything about my baking from Cat…except the amount of butter in croissants.

I like the pumpernickel flour, and do plan to use it more.  Under pastrami sounds good.



Syd's picture

Welcome back, Glenn and nice baking.  Fortunately, whales don't lurch around like fast moving boules.  Nothing that a faster shutter speed won't sort out.



GSnyde's picture

Thanks, Syd. Using a faster speed compensates for the sourdough shuddering in anticipation of being enjoyed.


rayel's picture

Nice pictures Glenn, and nice flour mix.. The breads are wonderful, as is the crumb picture. Outstanding.


GSnyde's picture

This bread is a keeper.