The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

SFSD hand-mixed & gas oven baked

dmsnyder's picture

SFSD hand-mixed & gas oven baked

We are visiting our son in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving, and I'm introducing him to sourdough baking. This has entailed three challenges. The first is the demands of baking with a houseful of family. This is wonderful, but the scheduling complexity is greater by several orders of magnitude. The second is that Joel does not have a mixer. This is a very minor issue, but it does require adapting some recipes I am accustomed to making with machine mixing. The third challenge is baking in a gas oven. This is a new experience for me and, from my reading of TFL topics over the years, a challenge to many.

Yesterday, Joel and I made a large loaf of my San Francisco-style Sourdough. I followed my usual formula (see My San Francisco Sourdough Quest, Take 4) with the following changes:

1. Mix the flours and water in a bowl with a spatula and autolyse for 30 minutes.

2. Add the salt and levain and mix well using stretch and fold in the bowl.

3. Stretch and fold in the bowl x 2 at 30 minute intervals.

4. Stretch and fold on the bench x 2 at 30 minute intervals.

5. Ferment without molestation for another hour.

6. Pre-shape and shape one 1 kg batard. 

7. Proof for 2 hours en couche.

8. Bake at 450 dF for 35 minutes steaming for the first 15 minutes using Sylvia's method (towels in loaf pans, saturated with boiling water.)

Here are some results (I couldn't get a photo before Joel had cut the loaf after cooling.):

Even using two towels in loaf pans, the crust was rather dull, suggesting sub-optimal oven steaming. However, oven spring was satisfactory. The crumb structure was more open than usual and a bit less chewy. I judge it better than acceptable. Note that I did not retard the loaves, so the flavor was minimally sour but very nice - more like a good French pain au levain than a San Francisco Sourdough.

The results were good enough to warrent baking more hand-mixed SFSD's after I get home to my own oven.

I hope everyone had as nice a Thanksgiving as I did.



suave's picture

David, in gas oven you have to bake under a cover, there's simply no other way.

dmsnyder's picture

I'm not sure there isn't another way, but I have passed your solution on to my son.


dabrownman's picture

really nice baking in a foreign kitchen with a gas oven, no retardation and scheduling conflicts.   Heck, we couldn't even get our rolls done till after the dished were washed!   Eric H. said you don't need a stone but it looks like your son had one with that thick dark bottom.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

dmsnyder's picture

My son has a well-used pizza stone which I used well.


Janetcook's picture


Glad to know you were teaching your son the 'ropes' :-)  The results look very tasty and hopefully he will experiment in your absense and you might find a mixer in his kitchen next visit....though we all know one isn't really needed...convenient, yes; needed, naw.  I consider mine a luxury item :-)

Nice to read you got away and had time with your son's family too.  After all that is what the holidays are about :-)

Take Care,


dmsnyder's picture

We had a great time with our sons and their families. I think Joel will be baking bread. His wife generally doesn't eat bread because of the poor quality breads where she shops, but she loves my home-baked breads. And Joel loves to cook and is quite fearless in the kitchen.


GSnyde's picture

...might involve some baking tools from dad.

Looks like a nice loaf notwithstanding the challenges.

Sounds like a great Thanksgiving.


baybakin's picture

Ah! you stumbled across the problem I always have with gas ovens, they just evacuate the steam far too quickly.  As an earlier poster said, under a cover is just about the only way to generate enough steam for a shiney crust in a gas oven.

That said, I don't mind a more dull crust sometimes, when you bake in a WFO there is a similar result.  Great to see that you are showing family the ropes! I've been doing it the opposite way, teaching my folks sourdough.

EvaB's picture

gas stove top, and electric oven, although I prefer all gas, I was never so happy as when I managed to get my cherished brand new stove hooked up after moving to a new house, I hate electric stoves! In fact my husband will tell you I can cook over a burning campfire or on a pressure stove in the middle of a river on a boat (that is like a gas stove) so much better than on an electric stove that he actually had offered to fire the charcole burning BBQ with wood for me to cook on while living at the other house. It just makes that much difference for me.

But I love my Rival electric roaster oven that sits on the counter, that made doing Turkey on Sunday so much easier and allowed me to bake pies, and scallop veggies while it was roasting, so while I find cooking on the stove top so much better, it is nice to have the roaster. I brined the turkey for two days before roasting, and it was the absolute best one ever, although the one my husband did on the rotissarie on the BBQ (old charcole burning one, filled with hardwood chunks instead, and done at around 20F on Christmas day in an unheated garage with the door open) that was a deluxe turkey!