The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

SJSD Experiment, Take 1

Maine18's picture

SJSD Experiment, Take 1

I finally got around to trying my hand at DMSynder’s San Joaquin Sourdough recipe, one that I bookmarked years ago, but hadn’t got around to trying for no good reason.  I used the “Updated” SJSD recipe post, though he left me know he’s made some updates to the update, so next time I’ll make the latest tweaks as well.


To make things interesting/difficult on myself, I decided to switch up the process a bit on this bake and use the order of operations I've grown somewhat fond of with other levain recipes – specifically the "pre-shape>shape>place in banneton>place banneton in fridge overnight>score/load into oven" routine that Tartine/FWSY uses often.  It seems to just fit nicely into my weekend schedule, so I made that change to this experiment as well.


Happy to report the results look pretty good!  As expected, the formula appears pretty flexible, which is nice.  I still need to bake a bath of this bread using David’s regular process so I can compare, but from appearances, this bake seems solid.  Of course, I haven’t cut into the dough to see the crumb yet, or even tasted it, so hard to say much more than the exterior/over spring look good, but I can update the post after we dig in.


One question for the group:  I've recently been using my baking steel -- previously reserved for pizza -- for sourdough bakes, as I also love the oven spring it produces. I'm having a recurring issue with burnt/scorched loaf bottoms, though, and was wondering if anyone here has experienced the same with the steel, took some mitigating measures? I've tried propping up the loaves on an inverted sheet pan halfway through the bake, but the damage seems to be done in the first 15 or so minutes. I've seen the issue across a number of higher hydration recipes, so it doesn't seem to be unique to a particular formula. I use small pieces of parchment to load the dough, and am going to experiment with sprinklings of corn meal next, see if that helps.   Does the steel just transfer too much energy/heat to use it for these types of bakes? I’ve seen Maurizio ( use the steel with great success, so I’m guessing it’s more about me than the materials, but any advice from you or your readers would be great!


Update: cut into one of the loaves for lunch.  Fantastic, subtle flavor, soft crumb, not gummy but creamy.  Really great for a sandwich (which I just finished).  The crumb was a tad tighter than some other high hydration doughs I bake, but I actually prefer this for spreads/meats.  Will definitely keep working on this one!



Danni3ll3's picture

Wow! That is impressive!

My only suggestion is to perhaps put an upside down sheet pan over your baking steel and see if that insulates the bottom of the loaf enough to prevent the burning. I would experiment putting it in when preheating the oven and putting it in at the same time as the loaf.

Maine18's picture

I was thinking along similar lines for next time -- a bit worried that might negate the benefit of the steel (intense transfer of heat in the beginning of the bake), but definitely worth a try!


Isand66's picture

What shelf in your oven is the steel on?  You may need to switch it up or down and see if that helps.

Maine18's picture

the steel is on the middle rack, which is about where it has to go in my oven to allow for room to spring up and still be able to fit a cast iron pan on a rack below for steam - limited options unfortunately

dmsnyder's picture

It has a more closed crumb than my typical SJSD bake. I can't say it's due to the changed procedure. There are several possible causes.

I'm glad you liked the eating quality. That's the final measure, isn't it?

I have a baking steel, but I have only used it for pizza. I think your ideas and all the suggestions you have received have merit.

Happy baking!


Maine18's picture

Appreciate your help and inspiration with this formula.   It truly has a lovely taste, which is indeed the final measure ;).  Very much looking forward to baking this bread again. 

Thanks again,


alfanso's picture

I won't jump in and address the baking steel issue as I don't use one.  I was just reviewing your past postings here and you are really getting consistently looking beautiful loaves emerging from the oven.  Certainly including the lead photo and other batards on this post.  Congratulations and keep on posting.  Love seeing these.

dabrownman's picture

the bottoms too done.  I just take it out the DO 5 minutes after the  lid comes off and finish it on the rack or stone in the oven.  For baking steel you want to get it off the steel and finish it the same way 5 minutes after the steam comes out so does the steel.  My CI steel came with my BBQ so it is smaller and easier to remove from the oven when hot.

David's SJSD is famous for good reason - it is fine white bread and on the easier side to make especially if you retard it shaped and bake it cold out if the oven.

Happy baking