San Francisco Sour Dough Style Bread

Further to the post on cups and spoons it struck me that I have not actually given the recipe for refreshing and baking with the 1857 sourdough.  Without further ado (get your cups and spoons ready).

To make three medium sized loaves

Step One:

24-48 hours before you want to bake take the 1857 sourdough out of the fridge.  If you are working from what you have received from me or a sourdough share save schemer, you will have 1 cup (that is 8 fluid oz) of sourdough.  Scrape it all out of it’s jar into a big mixing bowl and add 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of white wheat flour.  Cover and let it sit on the counter for 12-24 hours.

**Very Important**

After 12-24 hours it will be foamy.  Give it a stir and take one cup out and put it back in the fridge for another day.  If you do not do this you will have lost your starter!  So, don’t forget:  “a cup in, a cup out.”

Step Two:

Add the following to your mixing bowl of sourdough:

4 cups of flour (Any kind will do – seriously.  Wheat, rye, spelt, dark, white, or a blend – whatever you have on hand)
1.25 cups of warm water (10 fluid oz)

Give it a stir.  It will be really thick but have no fear, after 12 hours it will be bubbly.  Cover it and leave it for 12 hours (24 if in fridge).

Step three:

To the mixture in the bowl, add:

1 -2 cups more flour (at least).

Begin to knead.  You will have to knead for a good 10 minutes and you will probably have to add more flour.  The dough will be sticky (that is the nature of sourdough dough).  After 10 minutes, add:

3 tsp salt

any other ingredients you fancy (honey, molasses, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, olives, cheese, etc).  If you are going to add dry ingredients you might want to soak them first over night so they don’t take moisture from the dough)

Knead for another 5 minutes or so.  A plastic dough scraper helps enormously if you are kneading by hand on a table.

When you have finished kneading, put the dough back in a bowl (or a big tupperware box) and cover it.  Let it rest for an hour or so.

Now, there are at least a million ways of dealing with the dough so the world is your oyster.  You can:

a) Stretch and fold it for another several hours (at least 4)  in its bowl or box before GENTLY dividing it, shaping it, rolling it in flour, letting it sit for another hour or so and baking it.  You will need a fairly stiff dough to bake it this way – if it is too slack it will just collapse and spread out while baking.  Probably tasty but not very good looking.  When I say “stretch and fold” I really mean “stretch and fold.”  Grasp a handful of dough and pull it away from you before folding it back on itself.  Turn the bowl a quarter turn and do it again.  Do it four times at the four “corners” of the dough.  When you do this you strengthen the dough and you allow it to rise more easily by creating space in the dough itself for bubbles to form.

b) Divide it into loaves, give each loaf a little stretch and fold, roll them gently in flour and put them in a tin or a basket to continue rising for 5 hours or so.  If you are rising in a basket, roll the dough out of the basket and onto a baking tray GENTLY to bake it.  Don’t put the basket in the oven.

To test whether the dough has risen enough, gently poke it.  If the indentation comes out again within about 1 minute, it’s ready.  You can always rise bread in the fridge.  As long as it is above zero, the bread will rise.  If you find yourself caught short of time, stick it in the fridge (at any stage).

Bake the dough at 230 for ten minutes and then at 200 for 30 minutes.

Persevere. This is an art, not a science.  There are a million ways of baking sourdough bread.  All of them work.  And remember, it’s all good toasted.

11 thoughts on “San Francisco Sour Dough Style Bread”

  1. Thankyou for your amazing recipe for the sourdough starter and bread. Have just successfully made my first ever sourdough loaves and I’m hooked!

    I’m much more comfortable with cups and spoons, even though I grew up with kitchen scales! I was converted when an American friend gave me a ‘Joy of Cooking’ and a set of measuring cups in 1971, and I’ve never looked back.

    Can’t cope with grams of liquid starter, so am sticking to the San Francisco recipe for now – there’s lots of flexibility in it so I won’t get bored! Or is there a simple way to convert?

    1. Hi Pat, I am so pleased that this is working for you. First, there is plenty you can make with this basic recipe – add spices, egg and butter for enriched bread and rolls, make pizzas, etc. Second, as re conversions, there is no easy way. Believe me it is such a drag. Short of getting a scale and measuring it all out and writing it all down. I never bothered until I had to do it to write the book and it took me several attempts because I kept forgetting what I had done! Soon you won’t really need to measure anyway – just throw in some flour and water and get kneading! Thanks again for your commnent. Jane

  2. Hello,

    Many thanks for sharing this detailed and delicious recipe! I’ve tried it couple of times with very pleasing results.

    I have a quick question about step 1 refreshment. You mention ‘a cup in, a cup out’… but it seems that two cups are going in (1 flour + 1 water), whilst only one is coming out (combined sourdough). I’m finding that my starter expanding significantly beyond what I’m taking out.

    I’d be really grateful if you could clarify this, as it seems a pity not to use it all. I was wondering if 0.5 cup of each (flour and water) would work o.k?



    1. Hi Tom, you are so right! It is a funny expression with sourdough – a cup in and a cup out. In fact, you can put in 1/2 c flour and 1/2 c water and then you truly have 1 c in and 1 c out. However, beware that the refreshement will happen very fast – the old starter will chew through the new food and go to sleep again. Don’t worry about it though – it will still be active even if you see that it has seperated in the bowl (ie liquid floating on top). The other thing to do is 1 c flour and 1 c water in and then take 1 cup out and put back in fridge. You have 2 c refreshed starter. Use it all in the bread. Reduce the water content significantly (I cannot really tell you how much but just kind of adjust it to have the right consistency. The dough will taste a bit stronger and move a bit more quickly. You can also simply double the amount of flour and water that use are using at the moment – make LOTS of bread and put some in the freezer! Let us know what you choose and do send photos!

  3. Many thanks for these ideas. I’ll give them a go.

    I also realised that if I start off with just 0.5 cup of starter, and refresh with 0.5 c of both flour & water, I’ll keep your original proportions (1:1:1), and end up with the required 0.5 c starter after removing 1 c sourdough for baking. There are so many variations!

  4. Why is my first attempt so heavy? Very tasty but very disappointing. It didn’t seem to rise much on the last proving and Ieft it 5 hours
    Any suggestions gratefully received before I throw away my starter and give up!

  5. Hello, for IBS sufferers its the fructan in the gluten protein that they have problems with so the longer fermenting time helps toeliminate this from what i have read. How long can i ferment this for?


  6. When you say “stretch and fold for another 4 hours or so” I guess you don’t mean continuously? Any guidance on how often duting the 4 hours?


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