San Joaquin Sourdough: Update
While I enjoy a variety of breads, the San Joaquin Sourdough remains my “go to” bread. It's easy to fit into a busy schedule. It uses few ingredients. It always tastes delicious. It's wonderful freshly baked but also makes great toast, French toast, garlic bread and croutons for salads or onion soup. It is almost as good after being frozen as fresh. What's not to like?
I first developed this formula about 3 years ago. Since then, I've tweaked the formula and methods in many ways. I know many TFL members have made this bread and enjoyed it. So, I thought an update on my current recipe might be of interest.
To summarize the changes I've made in the past 6 months:
I substituted 25 g of whole wheat flour for an equal amount of the rye flour in the original formula. The difference in flavor is subtle, but I like it better.
I adopted the oven steaming method for home ovens we were taught in the SFBI Artisan I and II workshops.
SFBI Steaming method
I switched from using a parchment paper couche to a baker's linen couche. (Highly recommended! Here is my source for linen: San Francisco Baking Institute)
Most recently, after trying several different methods, I've settled on the method of pre-shaping and shaping bâtards taught in the King Arthur Flour instructional video. (See: Hamelman technique videos The relevant instructions are in the fourth video, starting at about 7:00 minutes.) The SJSD dough is very extensible. This method forms a tighter loaf which is shorter and thicker than that produced with the method I had been using.
Active starter (100% hydration)
All Purpose flour (11.7% protein)
BRM Dark Rye flour
Whole Wheat flour
In a large bowl, mix the active starter with the water to dissolve it. Add the flours and stir to form a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let rest (autolyse) for 20-60 minutes.
Sprinkle the salt over the dough. Using a plastic scraper or silicon spatula, stretch and fold the dough 30 times, rotating the bowl 1/5 turn between each stroke. Cover tightly. Repeat this stretch and fold procedure 3 times more at 30 minute intervals.
After the last series of stretches and folds, scape the dough into a lightly oiled 2 quart/2 liter container and cover tightly. (I use a 2 quart glass measuring pitcher with a tightly fitting plastic lid manufactured by Anchor Glass.) Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes with a stretch and fold after 45 and 90 minutes, then return the dough to the container and place it in the refrigerator and leave it there for 21 hours.
Dividing and Shaping
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and scrape it gently onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat it into a rectangle. Divide the dough into two equal pieces.
To pre-shape for a bâtard, I now form a ball rather than a log. Place each piece of dough smooth side down. Pat into a rough circle, degassing the dough gently in the process. Bring the far edge to the middle and seal the seam. Then go around the dough, bringing about 1/5 of the dough to the middle and sealing it. Repeat until you have brought the entire circumference of the piece to the middle. Turn the piece over, and shape as a boule. Turn each ball seam side up onto a lightly floured part of your board.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and/or a kitchen towel and let it rest for about 60 minutes. (The time will depend on ambient temperature and how active your starter is. The dough should have risen slightly, but not much.)
To shape a bâtard, I now favor the method portrayed in the King Arthur Flour instructional video. I encourage you to watch the video, but here is a verbal description of the method:
For each piece of dough, place it in front of you on an un-floured board.
Hold down the near side and stretch the far side of the piece into a rough rectangle about 8 inches front to back.
Now, fold the far end two thirds of the way to the near end and seal the seam with the heel of your hand.
Take each of the far corners of the piece and fold them to the middle of the near side of your first fold. Seal the seams.
Now, the far end of the dough piece should be roughly triangular with the apex pointing away from you. Grasp the apex of the triangle and bring it all the way to the near edge of the dough piece. Seal the resulting seam along the entire width of the loaf.
Turn the loaf seam side up and pinch the seam closed, if there are any gaps.
Turn the loaf seam side down. Then, with the palms of both hands resting softly on the loaf, roll it back and forth to shape a bâtard. Start with both hands in the middle of the loaf and move them outward as you roll the loaf, slightly increasing the pressure as you move outward, so the bâtard ends up with the middle highest and the ends pointed .
Preheating the oven
One hour before baking, place a baking stone on the middle rack and put your steaming apparatus of choice in place. (I currently use a 7 inch cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks.) Heat the oven to 500F.
After shaping the loaves, transfer them to a linen couche, seam side up. Cover the loaves with a fold of the linen. Proof until the loaves have expanded to about 1-1/2 times their original size. (30-45 minutes) Test readiness for baking using “the poke test.” Do not over-proof, if you want good oven-spring and bloom!
Pre-steam the oven, if desired.
Transfer the loaves to a peel. (Remember you proofed them seam side up. If using a transfer peel, turn the loaves over on the couch before rolling them onto the transfer peel. That way, the loaves will be seam side down on the peel.) Score the loaves. (For a bâtard, hold the blade at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf. Make one swift end-to-end cut, about 1/2 inch deep.)
Transfer the loaves to the baking stone. Steam the oven. (I place a perforated pie tin with about 12 ice cubes in it on top of the pre-heated lava rocks.) Turn the oven down to 460F.
After 12-15 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus from the oven. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees, if it is browning unevenly. Close the oven door. (If you have a convection oven, switch to convection bake, and turn the temperature down to 435ºF.)
Bake for another 12-15 minutes, then remove the loaf and place on a cooling rack. Check for doneness. (Nice crust color. Internal temperature of at least 205F. Hollow sound when you thump the bottom of the loaf.) If necessary, return to loaf to the oven to bake longer.
When the loaves are done, turn off the oven but leave the loaves on the baking stone with the oven door ajar for another 7 minutes to dry the crust.
Cool on a rack for two hours before slicing.
Submitted to YeastSpotting
Thanks for the update.
I'm so glad that bread re-heats well.
I don't believe I said anything about "re-heating." The best way to thaw the SJSD is to unwrap it and let it sit on the counter until thawed. I'm not sure this would be the best way in a very humid climate, but it would probably be true for you.
I like to toss a thawed loaf in the oven for 10 minutes to crisp the crust. Doesn't seem right to slice hearth bread without crust shards flying off the knife.
Thanks for sharing your latest on your signature loaf, and also for including a link to the shaping video. The dough in the video appears to be of a much lower hydration than the sourdoughs I make. My doughs typically are above 70% hydration and are much more difficult to shape.
If my math is correct, your San Joaquin dough is about 76% hydration. Does it look or behave anything like the dough in the video?
You're correct. The SJSD dough is relatively high hydration. It is harder to handle than the dough in the video, but if you are comfortable with judicious flour dusting and bench knife use, standard shaping techniques work well. This is not ciabatta dough.
Two things to keep in mind: The stretch and folds in the bowl and the additional stretch and fold on the board and tight pre-shaping all develop really good dough strength. The other point is that you do your pre-shaping with dough right out of the fridge. This makes it less sticky than the same dough at room temperature.
Hope this helps.
Those tips do help, Thanks!
I hope to give this bread a try very soon.
I made your SJSD on Wednesday (sorry, no photos). Shaping was a bit of an adventure, but your tips about using a bench knife and a judicious dusting of flour helped a lot.
My wife, alas, is not a huge fan of "tangy" sourdough so most of my bakes are on the mild side. I didn't tell her anything specific about the SJSD other than it was a formula I had never tried before.
She LOVED it, as did I. She wanted to know how many loaves I made and when I would be baking it again.
Thanks for sharing it. Next time I'll take pictures.
I gather you'll be baking it again. I'm certainly an advocate for keeping ones spouse happy with bread.
I'm looking forward to seeing your photos. Until then, Happy Baking!
Do you normally pre-shape tightly? So many videos/bakers I see barely touch the dough during pre-shaping. Your loaves are always beautiful, so whatever your procedure, I'm in.
Do you normally pre-shape tightly? So many videos/bakers I see barely touch the dough during pre-shaping. Your loaves are always beautiful, so whatever your procedure, I'm in.
Very nice shaping on these loaves David, with spot on final proof and slashing. Perfect! Clear and thorough writeup from you as usual. Thanks for keeping us updated on this TFL favourite.
I appreciate your kind words.
wonderful david, thank you for the update, san joaqin sourdough was on my must-try-list for a long time. Now you just put it on the top of the list. I know the video with hamelman and I learned a lot watching him and his team.
Have you tried to make baguettes using this formula? I want a sourdough baguette recipe, do you think this will work?
The SJSD dough makes wonderful baguettes and ficelles. I especially like the ficelles rolled in a mix of sesame, poppy and sunflower seeds before baking.
Here's another formula for sourdough baguettes that I particularly like: Baguette Tradition after Phillip Gosselin
David, those are beautiful, perfectly-shaped and scored batards!
Your SJSD looks like a wonderful formula!
I decided to make this bread, so I started today. Wish me good luck!. I just made a rye bread wich turn out flat-ish (I didn't cut it yet to see the crumb) and I'm a little sad. I need SJSD to turn out good, or else I'll completely lose my confidence. Any last moment advices?
Just follow the method. Don't stint on the S&F's.
Let us know how it turns out.
Very handsome looking batards, David. I read your notes closely and with interest. Your recipe is quite similar to my "go to" loaf in terms of ingredients except that I usually go for 20% whole wheat and 10% rye. My hydration is closer to 71% whereas yours is slightly higher than 75%. I have never tried the folding with the dough-scraper-in-the-bowl method that you describe. My worry would be that it wouldn't distribute the salt evenly enough. However, you have obviously found that not to be a problem. I am wondering if your kneading method is what contributes to that nice open crumb you have achieved?
That is just the amount of crust caramelisation that I always strive for. I bet it has lots of flavour. Nice bake.
When you consider that I do between 82 and 122 S&F's, salt distribution is just not a problem.
This technique results in excellent gluten development with the gluten strands cross-linked in a chaotic pattern, as opposed to the more regular pattern achieved with machine mixing. I do think this has a big impact on crumb structure. Of course, the high hydration level also contributes to the larger holes.
david, sorry to bother you again... If you read this message in time, can you tell me what temperature is in your fridge? Mine has 50F (10C) and I don't know if I should let the dough 21 hours or less. That is how it looked after last S-F , before I put it in fridge. (I halved the amounts given in your formula)
Thank you, codruta
My fridge runs right around 40 degrees F.
50 degrees F is great for retarding bread and storing wine, but I think it's above the safe temperature for storing foods, e.g., milk products.
With the SJSD, I'd compensate for the higher temperature by shortening the bulk fermentation prior to retarding the dough, but give it the full time in the fridge. But "watch the dough, not the clock." If the dough seems to be expanding too fast, shorten the retardation time. You don't want to over-ferment this dough. Hmmm --- You could also shorten the time between pre-shaping and shaping, if the dough seems pretty gassy. Again, let the condition of the dough be your guide.
The dough in the photo looks really nice.
I don't know if I should put my bread pictures here, your post is too beautiful. The problem is I don't know what happened to my loaf. It has poor volume, and seems heavy. At first I suspected it was over-fermented in the fridge (I let it stay 18 hours at 48F), but it has no sour taste. The taste is quite good actualy. When I preshaped it, it was fine, a nice ball of dough, tight and smooth. But after that, the disaster happened. when I tried to give it the final shape, the skin broke and the dough started to expand (to flow slowly). I couldn't manage to make it smooth again, it kept breaking and breaking. I overworked the dough? or it was already overprooved? I let it proof another 30 min, and then I baked it. With your permission I'll upload some pictures, if you don't mind.
You're free to post your photos here or start a new topic.
From your description, it does sound like the dough over-fermented and you had proteolytic degradation of the gluten.
FYI, I've cold retarded SJSD dough for 36 hours at 40 degrees F without a problem. The bread was just more tangy.
david, I'll put the pictures here, maybe you can help me. After I cut the crumb, I now suspect the dough was underproofed. It annoys me not to be able to give a correct diagnosis... I'm making the same mistakes over and over because I can't figure out what I did wrong last time.
here are the pictures, in that order: after retardation, pre-shape, proofed, and final product.
best wishes, codruta
The photos do help. I see good looking stuff until the shaped loaf, as you described before. The proofing loaf and the baked bread look like either you need to work on your shaping technique or the gluten quality was poor. Since the pre-shaped dough looks so nice, with a good gluten sheath supporting the ball, I lean towards the problem being with how you shaped the loaf.
What do you think?
I have exactly the same issues: dough will come together and shape well. Then I let it ferment in the fridge for overnight or 24 hours.
If I try to shape it, it literally starts to "puddle" on the surface. I've resigned myself to getting an oval ceramic dutch oven (Walmart has a Paula Dean 3.25 qt version for $26...ceramic doesn't burn the bottom like cast iron...no oil needed...just preheat with in a very hot oven at 525 degrees; I added about 1/8 cup of corn meal to the bottom before adding the dough) and just "pouring" it into the dutch oven.
The picture attached comes from a round le creuset dutch oven. Notice the rise. This is due to the walls of the dutch oven keeping the loaf from flattening out. I've tried over-kneading, under-kneading, more rise, less rise. I have no idea how to ferment a loaf and get it to hold it's shape so I can bake it on a stone.
From your question, it sounds like you are cold retarding shaped loaves. That is a different procedure than mine, of course. In any case, it is important to provide good lateral support while the loaves are proofing when you are working with a relatively high-hydration dough. I use a linen couch with the SJSD.
You might clarify your procedure and how you are supporting the loaves while they proof, in particular.
You know, maybe I can try that. I've made the poolish, then for the 2nd step, putting the add'l flour and water in the mixing bowl alone, mixing and then letting it autolyse, then adding the poolish and salt, then having my machine knead the dough until it pulls away and then put that in an oiled covered bowl. I then have tried doing stretching and folding every 1/2 hour for 3 hours, then letting it rise until it is about 1.5x the size before stashing in the fridge overnight. The problem is the next day when I remove it from the fridge and try to form the loaf. There is not enough structure for it to hold any shape at all. It has lots of bubbles and is very sponge-like, but literally just puddles on the counter when I try to form a loaf.
I was wondering if you've weighed your dough before you flour your hands and surface and then form the loaf, and then weigh it again to see how much flour has been added/absorbed? I'm wondering with "wetter" doughs, if using the flour on the surface changes the hydration?
From your last reply, I have the impression that you have tried a number of variations on the procedure. The procedure described in the OP is tried and true. It works for me every time and has worked for lots of other folks on every continent except Antarctica. May I humbly suggest you give it a try. Then, once it has worked for you, if you want to change things, change one thing at a time. That way you will know what you can get away with. Who knows? Maybe you can discover a better method.
1. When you use a liquid levain, include it in the autolyse. All you need to add after the autolyse is the salt.
2. You are bulk fermenting at room temperature for at least 3 hours - I suspect significantly more, then, in addition, cold retarding overnight. This makes proteolysis very likely as the cause of you runny dough when you go to shape the loaves. Refrigerate sooner.
I do S&F and shape on a floured board. I would be surprised if this adds more than 2 tablespoons of flour to the dough altogether.
I baked a couple loaves of SJSD this evening. I'll upload some photos to this topic shortly.
Thank you for all your help. It means alot.
I think my challenge may be ambient temperatures as well. I will follow your instructions to the "T" and also start measuring the temperature of my dough at various stages and put all in a journal this time.
I will also do a photo journal at various stages this time.
Success or no, I will report back! It'll probably be 2-3 days if I start today.
Wish me bon chance!
Bon chance! Buona fortuna! Mazel tov!
That oughta do it. ;-)
One last question for clarification please? For your 2KG loaf your recipe calls for 132g of "stiff starter". May I ask the number of grams of flour to water in your version of "stiff starter" please? That should help me eliminate another variable in my next attempt.
The SJSD uses a liquid starter. Are you asking about a different one of my bakes?
If so, please re-post your question in that thread. I use slightly different stiff starters for different breads.
Success! It had everything to do with:
1) Mixing the flour and water separately and letting it autolyse for 1 hour;
2) Adding the starter with no salt - stretching and folding for about 5 min, letting it bench rest for an hour and then incorporating the salt, stretching and folding until it formed a smooth skin, about another 3-5 min.
3) Allow it to ferment on the counter (I tried 3 hours as I was gun shy; I'll try the full 6 less the S&F hour above next time) before stashing in the fridge overnight.
This morning I have happy structured dough, and then some! No more puddling or "pouring" the dough into dutch ovens. I can now cook on a stone without getting wide flat bread. Yippee!
Thank you so much for all your help.
I'm glad things are working better for you, but I definitely do not recommend bulk fermenting at room temperature for six hours before retarding, unless your room is 50 dF or less. You will have breakdown of the gluten by proteolysis and be back to a sloppy mess, most likely.
Richard Bertinet's youtube video of how to make dough, including the stretch & fold method:
This was the first video I've seen showing how to stretch & fold until the dough comes together.
I did two things differently:
1) I mixed the flour and water separately and let it "autolyse" for 1 hour before adding the starter (I left the salt out at first);
2) Once I added the starter, I did the Richard Bertinet stretch & fold, though got impatient, and decided to let it bench-rest after about 5 minutes of stretching and folding with no real change in the dough. The bench rest for an hour after did the trick, at which point I did additional stretch & folds (I added the salt at this point), and the dough came together into a nice smooth round. I didn't try a window pane test on it yet.
I then let it rise at room temp for 3 hours before placing in the fridge. If I need to, I will let it finish rising tomorrow as it is late and I was nervous about what happened to me last time when I let it sit for 6 hours on my counter before stashing in the fridge overnight and the subsequent puddling that occurred.
After watching the youtube video, I think I have a better understanding of what the dough is supposed to look like. We will see tomorrow! I'll post pics of the dough after shaping/prior to putting in the oven, and the after bake.
You may have already seen this video on youtube, but if not, it really helped me alot to understand how dough should be mixed, stretched & folded, for how long, and what each stage looks like when it comes together:
Richard Bertinet's youtube video of how to make dough, including the stretch & fold method:
David, as you said, I don't think the gluten quality was poor, so there must be a problem with my technique . I've watched that video (with hamelman & co) tens of times, I know every step, and I am able to make those moves... but... the problems are, I think, I'm not sure I'm right, (1) that I didn't give the dough enough time between preshaping and shaping (maybe 25-30 minutes, and the preshaped ball was pretty tight, the dough was still cold when I worked it), and (2), my working surface is not good. I can't work the dough as you mentioned in your instructions, on an un-floured board. I tried to work it on my un-floured counter, it sticked, I moved it on an un-floured wooden board, it sticked more. It even sticked on my hands, when I tried to seal the seams. I managed somehow to ruin a wonderful dough... and what's upsetting me even more, is that this bread, ugly and stiff as it is, has a taste close to perfection. It might become my everyday bread, if i'll ever learn to do it right...
So, the reason why the skin fissured was because I tried to stretch the dough when the gluten was not fully relaxed... or it cracked simply because it sticked on the working area and on my hands?
I suspect the dough sticking to the work surface was more the problem than it not being sufficiently relaxed.
As I said, judicious use of board flouring and use of the bench knife to free the dough from the bench, rather than pulling and tearing it, is the trick. Also, in handling sticky dough, your hand contact with the dough should be as brief as possible with each move. Note in the Hamelman videos that, when they feel the dough sticking to their hands, they keep flouring their hands. This is a good technique to emulate. Some bakers wet their hands or even oil them. I prefer Hamelman's technique, myself.
These just seem to get better and better each time you bake David.
Just wonderful loaves that you have baked here.
I agree with your advice to codruta; more judicious use of flour on the bench and hand at the final stage should sort out the shaping problems.
I like the steaming tip with the perforated pie tin and ice cubes too; thanks for that one
All good wishes
The optimal use of bench flour is one of those "minor" techniques one learns by experience, as is the many ways the bench knife can be used. Since these skills tend to be acquired gradually, I don't usually think about them as important to communicate to new bakers. I think Sjadad's nice comment, above, shows what a big difference these little things can make.
Do you still use the perforated pan for steaming?
I recently used a roasting pan with a small cup of water steaming inside, & think I got my prettiest loaf yet.
What do you think is the difference? Where did you get the perforated pan?
Thanks for all the great tips!
Yes. I continue to use this method. It works for me, but whatever works best for you is best for you.
I think I got the pan from Bridge Kitchen Wares. Amazon.com has some, but they shipped me the wrong ones twice, and I gave up on them.
but how do you feel the affect of leaving this dough to retard for, say 12 hours in the fridge would affect it? Could I perhaps leave it out and extra 30 minutes before the cold retard? I've tried this once already and it was delicous with a lovely crumb (but I still need to work on my scoring).
At various times, my cold retardation time has varied from 12 to 36 hours. The bread has always been good. That resiliency is one of the things I like about the San Joaquin Sourdough.
That said, the shortest fermentation times result in less sourdough tang and overall less flavor complexity. The longest fermentation times result in a less open crumb, presumably due to proteolysis. I think 18-24 hours is probably the best range.
I have also varied the bulk fermentation times prior to retardation with no ill effects. The dough does show more expansion during cold retardation if you bulk ferment longer. This has a limit of course, but 30 minutes is no problem. I have not done this planfully in anticipation of a shorter cold retardation, but it makes sense. I'm glad it has worked well for you and that you are enjoying the SJSD.
BTW, I personally appreciate members "resurrecting" older posts. TFL has been online long enough that there is a lot of excellent older content that is unknown to more recently joined members. I've been thinking recently about some breads that were really astonishingly good but have not been posted on for 4 years or more.
Hello, I'm new around here, but I find your posts full of specific and interesting informations. Everything is quite simple to understand:) Still, i have one question about my 3 kg SJSD dough (we are a big familly an I always give bread to my friends). After the first 7 hour of cold retardation the dough nearly doubled in size. Is that normal? Should I continue with cold retardation until 21 Hours? I don't wanna end up with an over-proof dough or too sour ... The temperature in my fridge is around 3.5 - 4 Celsius degrees. Thank you very much.
How much expansion the dough has during the first part of the retardation depends on starter activity and dough temperature. However, once the dough is cooled to 4dC, expansion should essentially stop. I would continue retardation, although you could certainly divide and shape after less than 21 hours, if it is more convenient.
So, i let it in the fridge for 19h. And I think that I coud let it even more:) DDT until going into frigde was 23.5 C so I thing this was the reason for a quick expansion in the first 7h. But, of course I had problems with the pre-shape and shape. Still, I can say that it's my favorite bread until now:) Thank You very much for your help.