The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello Everyone from Santa Cruz, CA

tropicalelder's picture

Hello Everyone from Santa Cruz, CA

My wife and I have just recently taken an interest in breadmaking, particularly San Francisco style sourdough. We've visited a gagillion sites, watched a bunch of movies, download and printed reams of pages of how-to's, and alas . . . stumbled on The Fresh Loaf!  Whew. Just in the nick of time.

After a bit of trial-and-error we got our starter working (still living) and have actually made a couple of loaves of bread. We think we're ready to take the next steps -- polish our technique and expand our "expertise" (?).

We can tell already that The Fresh Loaf and fellow patrons are going to be a God-send.

We're thanking you in advance for your encouragement and assistance.

Best regards,

tropicalelder (aka John)

jannrn's picture

You are gonna LOVE it here!! There are members literally from all over the World and full of information! 

Enjoy and Happy Baking!


baybakin's picture

Welcome from just further up the bay!  I hope you find just what you're looking for.

As far as SF style sourdough goes, the member dmsnyder on here had a whole quest on getting warf-style sf sourdough, which you can find on his blog, and I've sucessfully made a few times.

My basic sourdough recipe flirts with the sour aspect, but not quite as much as dmsnyder's.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing some of your bread!

linder's picture

Welcome to the fresh loaf - you are in for a great ride - lots of info/formulas and beautiful bread. Do try dmsnyder's SF sourdough formula.  It's some wonderful bread. I'm not far from you - in Martinez, CA.  Have a great time exploring the site.

richkaimd's picture

I am an older but wiser bread baker having learned by making lots of mistakes over the past 40 years.  What I'm about to write is advice I wish someone had given me when I started:  bread baking, while not done by rocket scientists, is best learned from an expert and often in a course.  If you have no local expert and cannot take a course, you can learn from a text book.  I recommend a text book way over a basic bread cook book because texts are intended to teach from the fundamentals up; cook books, even if they have learning subsections, just don't cut it for that.  The problem with TFL is that as good as it is, a newbie simply doesn't know enough to sort good from bad advice.  I read TFL daily, at least, and would recommend that you continue to do so.  But starting from taking the time to work through a text book (e.g., DiMuzio's Bread Baking) will be well worth your time.  It's a short thorough text meant for a beginner such as your self.  (Look on Alibris for a used copy for near $20.)  Do not start with a more complicated text, such as the quite wonderful but far too thorough, Bread by Hamelman.  As good as it is, you're likely to get caught in far too much detail, get bore, and quit.

In addition, watch all the videos linked on this site so that you get an idea of things to come.  Then return to them later when one of them is triggered.  Just looking at them will give you ideas of what you might also find on Youtube.

Oh, yes, practice, practice, and practice some more.  I give away lots more loaves than I eat in exchange, always, for honest criticism.  People will do that for you.  It's worth it.



tropicalelder's picture

... for the kind words of welcome and encouragement. We're certain that this is going to be a fun and productive place to hang out.

Thank you also for the suggestions on how to best use the site, references, and videos. We've already begun this education and are having fun stumbling around all of the info.

Last night, we cooked baked our first loaves of sourdough bread. Although we used techniques from other sources, we're pretty pleased with the results. I will take some pixs and post our procedure later today.

Again, many thanks!


tropicalelder's picture

Hello All, again.

I want to share with you our first loaves of San Francisco sourdough bread. Since these loaves coincide with our joining The Fresh Loaf, I thought I'd post this here rather than as a new thread.

About 7 months ago, we decided we wanted some good fresh San Francisco sourdough bread. We live about an hour and a half from SF and know what great SD bread is all about, but sadly aren't able to get any great SD bread locally. That's when we decided to learn how to make our own.

We searched the Internet and learned that San Francisco sourdough may not be the same as other sourdoughs based on the specific organisms that come to life. Since we wanted the real deal, we kept searching and came upon the San Francisco Sourdough Starter for $9.99 from Linda Wilbourne ( In addition to the starter mix, we ordered a few utensils including a scraper, rising container, wire-top jar for storing the starter, scapers, thermometer, tea towells, scoring knife, basting brush, etc.

We did not do anything with the starter for about 6 months. Then, a couple of weeks ago we decided to plunge in. We followed Linda's detailed instructions in making our starter. However, after about 2 or 3 days, we realized that we had failed. I sent Linda an email and she promptly sent another batch of the starter mix. This time we didn't hesitate and our starter turned out great (at least it smelled great).

Her procedure requires making the intial batch of starter and then feeding it continually for a full 3 days. After feeding our starter for 4-5 days, we finally created our sponge and then baked our first loaves. First 15 mins at 400 degrees, then 45 mins at 375 deg.

The bread turned out great. It has an excellent, distinctive San Francisco sourdough flavor. The crust is firm but not too hard. The inside texture is slightly damp.

With such a great start, we're looking forward to learning more and trying lots of different formulae.