San Francisco Sourdough

San Francisco Sourdough

Jane Mason
There are hundreds of recipes for San Francisco Sourdough bread.  Some call for 100% wheat and some call for a wheat/rye dough.  The "sour to flour" ratio can vary from as low as 35% to as high as 65%.  Some ferment over 3 days and some over 12 hours.  Some have a very high hydration and some do not.  Some require stretching and folding every hour and some do not.
Here is a recipe for San Francisco Sourdough Bread that is as easy as it gets, with a nice open crumb (read:  holes) and a great flavour. Everyone wants to bake San Francisco sourdough – they want the challenge, they want the flavour, they want the texture and most of all, they want the HOLES!
5 from 1 vote
Baking time 40 mins
Course Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1 Loaf


  • bowls, rising baskets or tins, baking trays, non stick baking parchment, scale


  • 80 g Wheat sourdough starter From the vat in the fridge
  • 530 g White wheat flour
  • 370 g Water
  • 10 g Salt


Day 1

  • Measure the sourdough starter into a large bowl and return any remaining starter to the refrigerator.
  • Add 80 g of the flour and 80 g of the water. Stir and cover with plastic wrap, and leave on the counter for around 8 hours. Make sure your starter is ready to use

Day 2

  • Add the remaining 450 g of flour and 290 g of water and the salt and knead well for 10 minutes by hand or by machine on the lowest setting.
  • Put the dough in a bowl and cover the bowl with a shower hat or plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 6 hours.
  • Stretch and fold the dough every hour during that time (this is important to do if you want holes). To do that simply pinch the edge of the dough, stretch it up and fold it over the rest of the dough. Don’t press it down, just lay it down. Work your way around the edge of the dough, stretching and folding 4-6 times.
  • That’s it. Then, cover the dough and let it sit for another hour.
  • Stretch and fold the dough one last time and then shape it into a ball. Flour the top generously and place it floury top side DOWN in a well floured, 1 kg, round rising basket.
  • Cover it with the shower hat again and let it rest 2-4 hours until it passes the probe test.
  • Preheat the oven to 230 degrees C.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment and gently turn the dough out of the basket.
  • Pop it in the oven and bake for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 200 degrees C and bake for a further 30 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
Keyword 5 ingredients or fewer, sourdough bread

8 thoughts on “San Francisco Sourdough”

  1. This is the best loaf I've made EVER! Tweaked a bit:
    for the 450 gr of flour, I used 200 gr w/w & 250 gr unbleached organic white bread flour.
    38 hrs cold ferment in fridge
    Sheet cake pan of water on bottom rack , oven bake at 450 for 15 mins, 400 for 45 mins.
    Wish I could send pics!
    Many thanks for the recipe & inspiration!

  2. Hi there
    I am just about to start this recipe.
    On point 5 does this mean the bread rests for another 6 hours after 6 hours of stretch and folds? It doesn't seem clear.


    1. Hi Emma, I am so sorry I did not see this until now. That is a confusing instruction, sorry for that and thanks for telling me. No – you don't leave it for another 6 hours. I have clarified that now!

  3. Sheelagh Flowerday

    I already use your “All you Kneed if Bread” sourdough recipe with a lot of success and have an established organic white starter so will be giving this a go. I was wondering though about the starters for San Francisco sourdough you can buy on line — I assume they are one, maybe two use only? Surely they will quickly morph into a UK starter made in a UK kitchen with its own microorganisms and the use of UK flour.

    1. Dear Sheelagh, so sorry for the delay in responding. Life….As re buying a starter, it’s really not worth it. My starter has been all around the world – it was born in the USA and has been to many countries. I took it to be analysed by a yeast lab thinking there would be rare and wonderful yeasts and bacteria and no! They explained that these organisms are in the air and the air blows all around the world so it’s not like there are rare organisms sitting still in one place!

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you, my best white bread so far. It just happened that I had a San Francisco starter and was searching the net for a recipe. Although I’m a beginner, I’ve been avoiding making a low hydration sourdough bread naively thinking it won’t give me the airy crumb with lots of holes in it. But I gave it a go and it proved me wrong! A good kneading and stretch and fold is the key. And some practice obviously. I had to adjust the recipe a bit and had a dough in the fridge as it happened it wasn’t ready for me to bake, but it came out just beautifully still, shame I can’t leave a picture.

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