San Francisco Sourdough

Easy recipe for San Francisco Sourdough

Jane Mason
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!
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 very high hydration and some do not.  Some require stretching and folding every hour and some do not.  
If you are in San Francisco, you should certainly go to Boudin's. They have great SF sourdough but I cannot tell you how they bake it, nor can I provide you with the "most authentic" recipe for you to try at home.   However, last week I developed 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.
Baking time 40 minutes
Servings 1 Loaf


To refresh the starter

  • 80 g White wheat sourdough starter from the vat in the fridge
  • 80 g Strong white wheat flour
  • 80 g Water

To make the dough

  • 450 g Strong white wheat flour
  • 290 g Water
  • 10 g Salt


Day One

  • Measure the sourdough starter into a large bowl and return any remaining starter to the refrigerator. the 80 g flour and the 80 g water. Stir and cover with clingfilm or a shower hat. Leave overnight on the counter.

Day Two

  • The starter should be bubbly. If not, tuck it up and leave it for a bit longer. If it is still not bubbly, you may need to troubleshoot.
  • Add the dough ingredients to the refreshed starter and knead well for 10 minutes.
  • Cover the bowl with a shower hat 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.
  • After 6 hours, turn the dough out on to a floury surface. Stretch and fold the dough one last time and then shape it into a tight 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.
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4 thoughts on “San Francisco Sourdough”

  1. What if I do not have a sourdough starter and I just want an easy recipe for holey bread? Can I use this recipe and leave out the starter?

  2. Hi, can I make the same recipe using spelt flour? And you don’t have to make a slit in the dough and bake it covered?

    1. Hi, you can use spelt flour for certain and no of course you dont have to slit it or bake it covered if you don’t want to!

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