The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

San Francisco Country Sourdough—Take Two

GSnyde's picture

San Francisco Country Sourdough—Take Two


I was very pleased with my San Francisco Country Sourdough a couple weeks ago (, but no formula is exempt from tweaking.  This week I tweaked it as follows: (1) I used KA AP flour in place of KA European-Style Artisan Bread Flour; (2) I increased whole wheat from 6% to 8.5%; (3) I increased hydration from 66% to  67% in light of the increased whole wheat;  (4) I refrigerated the dough for 17 hours after the 3 hour room-temperature primary fermentation; (5) I baked smaller loaves instead of two 750g boules; and (6) I went with the latest steaming craze.  The tweaks led to improvement.


I don’t know if my starter was more active this week or loved the increased whole wheat  or the water was a bit warmer or what, but the dough got somewhat larger and gassier in the primary fermentation than it did last time.   There were many big bubbles in the dough when I put it in the fridge.

Right out of the fridge, the dough was divided into three 235g pieces for mini-baguettes.  The remaining 815g piece was formed into two mini-boules.  I decided to bake bats and balls in celebration of the Giants World Series Championship.

Bat and Ball IMG_1744

Dividing the dough into appropriately shaped pieces was interesting.  I ended up with three different shapes of mini-baguettes.  I could have shaped them more uniformly, but I sort of let them shape themselves based on how they were divided, and this is what they wanted to do. 

After carving off the mini-baguette pieces, I returned the rest of the dough to the fridge for another 90 minutes, so the mini-boules (baked after the mini-baguettes) started proofing around the time the mini-baguettes went into the oven.  I had to leave time to re-heat the cast iron pan and lava rocks for the second bake.

After 75 minutes proofing, the mini baguettes were baked on the stone at 500F with steam for 10 minutes and dry at 475F for 12 minutes more.  

The mini-boules proofed 90 minutes and were baked on the stone at 500F with steam for 12 minutes and dry at 460 for 16 minutes.

The steam was produced using the Sylvia’s-Luxury-Spa-Method-plus-good-old-cast-iron-pan-with-lava-rocks combination I used last week.  My oven was exuding steam throughout the first 10 minutes, so there’s no doubt it was moist in there.

The results were very satisfactory.  Like last time, the crust was thin and crispy and the crumb was light but chewy.  The taste is a bit nuttier with the increased whole wheat.  I like it so far and look forward to trying the “next day flavor”.

Baguettes IMG_1732

Baguette CrumbIMG_1735

Boule CrumbIMG_1749

I had most of a mini-baguette for lunch and part of one mini-boule with my scrumptious “Greek Gumbo” (soup with lamb meatballs, lentils and vegetables) for dinner.


With my wife away, Tasha thinks she should join me at the table.  “Just meatballs for me, thanks”.


Here’s the revised formula:

San Francisco Country Sourdough (Sourdough Pain de Campagne)

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



100 grams   AP flour

24 grams  Whole Wheat flour

12 grams  Whole rye flour

170 grams   Water, luke warm

28     Mature culture (75% hydration)

FINAL DOUGH (67% hydration, including levain)

660 grams   KAF All-Purpose flour (85.5%)

65 grams  Whole wheat flour (8.5%)

45 grams   Whole rye flour (6%)

435 grams   Water at room temperature (56%)

17 grams   Salt (2%)

306     Liquid levain  (40%)   


1. LIQUID LEVAIN:  Make the final build 12 to 16 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 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.  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: Divide the dough into pieces and pre-shape.  Let sit on board for 30-45 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: With steam, on stone.  Turn oven to 460 °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; 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.

Happy Baking!



Submitted to Yeast Spotting (



dmsnyder's picture

Your baguette scoring is clearly progressing. It's less clear whether Tasha scored a meatball.


GSnyde's picture

Thanks, David.  I was hoping you'd say that.  I'm pretty pleased with the effects of my improvised couche, my Breadtopia double-edged razor, and my improving technique.  If SFBI ever sends my backordered couche fabric, I might approach (the receding horizon of) perfection.

As to Tasha, she was thrilled with her usual nighttime snack of kitty crunchies.  She didn't offer to share either, so we're even.


breadsong's picture

I guess today is Country Bread day on TFL!
Your breads are just beautiful and I love the color of the crust, and your baguette scoring looks really good!
Regards, breadsong


GSnyde's picture

I admire your bakes, too.


Mebake's picture

Thumbs up to your baking skills, Glenn! and What a cute plump cat!

GSnyde's picture

Some time soon I hope to try a multi-grain like your gourgeous loaves.


trailrunner's picture

Another   gifted Snyder on TFL. Your descriptions are very helpful with  easily followed details. I am impressed with your shaping/scoring. I haven't got the touch you have....but then I don't have your brother either LOL. May need to make a visit to the Snyder Baking School in 2011. Caroline

GSnyde's picture

Thanks for the nice comment, Caroline.  David has been a big help, though we've never baked together (but I expect we will in a couple weeks).  His help is available here at TFL to all who follow his blogs and tutorials.


Jaydot's picture

LOL at the catpic!

My gran used to say "you have to take good care of yourself, no one else will do that for you" - looks like you're managing beautifully!

Lovely bake! I'd love to join you for a lunch like that :).

GSnyde's picture

Thanks, J.

The cat and the bake have much in common.  Warm, round and amusing.


SylviaH's picture

Great write-up too!  You just keep baking so many great looking loaves!

The kitty, steals the show!  Did you know kitties of this color, type live the has had a 3 live over 20yrs...Skitty, was our last, gray tabby...but they never went outdoors that it wasn't housed for them. 


GSnyde's picture

Thanks, Sylvia.  I would be happy with ugly loaves as long as they all taste and chew as nicely as these.  

As for Tasha, she is all or part Mau, an ancient breed characterized by dark grey spots (her stripes are actually lines of spots) on lighter grey background, with a fawn-colored undercoat and fawn-colored lining around the eyes.  They are also very smart.  Tasha is a real pal.  She has tons of personality and is very affectionate.  Not to mention photogenic.  I wouldn't mind if she stays around a long time.


coffeetester's picture

I wish I had thought of the bat and ball method. So to give a little back ground. I have been at this artisan baking for 3 weeks. My starter is now trippling or quadrupling in a 12 hour period. When you say 75% hydration starter I would need to reduce the liquid in my starter.  So if I take 100 grams starter and 100 grams flour and put in 75 grams water would this be a 75% or do I need to do it a couple of times. Or is there a way to convert the recipie to accomodate the 100% hydration starter. I definatly want to keep this recipie going after my Thanksgiving experiment is done.

GSnyde's picture


Yes, to change a 100% hydration starter to a 75% starter, you feed, say, 15 grams of your starter with, 60 grams of flour and 45 grams of water.  That's close enough for Jazz.

You could change the formula to use 100% hydration starter by calculating the total flour and water in the dough and setting the water at around 67%, using the magic of Baker's Math.

As to the bats and balls, I thought about trying to replicate a baseball's stitching pattern with my scoring, and decided I'd strike out.  Therein, a baking lesson: if you swing for a home run when you can't even hit the curve, you'll never get to the big leagues.



wally's picture

Don't know if it's the genes in your family, but each new bake you do produces noticeably improved results.  Keep it up and keep sharing with us!


GSnyde's picture

Whatever else, I'm good at having fun.  That's a family characteristic.


LindyD's picture

You're in the groove!

GSnyde's picture


belfiore's picture

Go to the head of the class, Glenn...your breads look amazing. So does the to share your recipe?

@trailrunner~I second your Snyder School of Baking idea!



GSnyde's picture


Glenn’s Greek Gumbo

(Soup of Lamb Meatballs, Lentils and Vegetables)


Ingredients for Meatballs:

1 lb ground lamb

3 cloves garlic, crushed

½  tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Ingredients for Lentils:

¾ cup small green lentils

1 yellow onion, whole

3 cloves garlic, whole

1 carrot ,cut in 3 pieces

1 stalk celery, cut in 3 pieces

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Ingredients for Soup:

1 large yellow onion diced

4-5 cloves garlic minced

3 stalks celery diced

½ cup olive oil

4 cups chicken stock

1 cup water

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

½ tsp thyme

2 carrots sliced

one large red potato diced ½ inch

prepared lentils


12 tender green beans, cut in one inch lengths

2 large leaves swiss chard, cut into strips.

1-1/2 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped




For Meatballs:

Combine ingredients in bowl.  Mix well with hands.  Let sit in refrigerator for one hour or more.  Form into balls about  ¾ inch diameter.  Bring 3 quarts well-salted water to soft boil.  Add meatballs.  Remove meatballs from water when they float (about 5 minutes), and set them aside in bowl.

For Lentils:

Combine ingredients in 2 quarts cold water.  Bring to slow boil.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until al dente (about 1 hour).  Drain water.  Dispose of onion, garlic, celery, carrot..  Set lentils aside.

For Soup:

In large soup pot, heat olive oil on medium.  Add onion, garlic, celery.  Saute until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add stock, water, canned tomatoes, and thyme, and bring to simmer.  Add carrots and potatoes.  Bring to simmer.  Simmer covered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add lentils.  Simmer covered 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add meatballs, parsley, green beans, chard.  Simmer covered 45 minutes, or until carrots and potatoes are done as you like.  Salt and pepper to taste at some point before done.

Serve with crusty bread.


Hope you like it.



belfiore's picture
belfiore find ground lamb! Not a common item here in tri-tip country. Thank you Glenn, for sharing your recipe and taking the time to make detailed instructions. I love lentils and am always looking for ways to use them. Lane & I both like lamb when we can find it.




GSnyde's picture

Over the last few years, I've put a number of my recipes on the computer.  The only downside is the occasional splatter on the laptop keyboard.

If you really can't find lamb, this would work fine with ground beef. But it's better with lamb.  I bet your butcher would grind some from a leg of lamb.


belfiore's picture

...terrific! My husband says, "keep that recipe you'll need to make it again!" I had very much an experimental day in the kitchen today. It's a rainy day and my husband thoughtfully searched out ground lamb so I could try Glenn's recipe. Thanks to Teresa at Northwest Sourdough who helped me scale down an old 17 pound monster dough recipe, I made my Grandmother's Italian bread. I baked it in my new Lodge combo cooker (aka-dutch oven).

Not as pretty as your picture but delicious anyway

Boule baked in dutch oven

Boule crumb

Thank you Glenn for sharing your Greek Gumbo!


GSnyde's picture

Glad you enjoyed the soup. And the bread looks wonderful. I'm going to try baking in a cast iron Dutch Oven soon.