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San Francisco Sourdough Bread Recipe

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This San Francisco sourdough bread recipe is packed with awesome sourdough flavor, has a thick chewy texture and is perfect for sandwiches, french toast, grilled cheese and more!

San Fransisco Sourdough slices on board with napkin

What is San Francisco style Sourdough Bread?

Classic San Francisco Sourdough is supposed to be unique, and a lot more tangy than just a regular sourdough bread. Normally, to make a “true” San Francisco Sourdough, you need a special starter from San Francisco!

What makes San Fransisco Sourdough bread different?

Sourdough gets its taste from lactic acid and acetic acid produced by local sourdough. So Sourdough tends to take on flavors of its environment. The bacteria in San Francisco has its own distinct taste (yes, tasty bacteria!)! And I read a really interesting article on how bugs might have played a role in the taste of San Francisco Sourdough, too!
But this San Francisco sourdough bread recipe is supposed to help you turn your own starter into an increased acidity starter that mimics the breads found in San Francisco.
loaf of sourdough bread on kitchen cloth

Love a good Sourdough Bread recipe? Try these simple sourdough bread recipes:

New to sourdough? Read my Ultimate Guide to Sourdough for Beginners to answer all the questions you have!

sourdough slices

How do you make San Francisco Sourdough Bread?

This San Francisco Sourdough bread recipe seems a bit ridiculous to make. It is quite time consuming (but not nearly as ridiculous as Sourdough Panettone! ).
Not hard, mind you, but time consuming, full of steps, and just plain ridiculous!! I felt completely tied to the kitchen all day, even though I didn’t spend much time in there. But note – even with all the time and steps, this bread isn’t hard to make! You can do it!!

Baker’s Schedule

The total time to make this recipe is quite a bit, almost 29 hours! But there is a lot of hands off time, and two places where you could overnight the dough in the fridge. To decide when to start your dough, work backwards based on when you want to be done baking.

  • Bake 45 minutes
  • Final Proof 1 hour
  • Shaping 
  • Bulk Ferment with Stretch and Fold – 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Mixing Dough –  15 minutes
  • Poolish – 24 hours
slice of san fransisco sourdough bread

Equipment needed:

  • Stand mixer
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Parchment paper
  • Lame or bread scoring knife
  • Small metal baking tray
  • Baking stone
  • Oven mitt

Steps to make this San Francisco sourdough bread recipe:

Make the poolish the day before you want to make the bread:

  1. Combine all the poolish ingredients in a large mixing bowl and leave at room temperature (that’s 74-80 degrees F, I had to leave mine in the laundry room!) for 24 hours, covered in plastic wrap.

Make the dough:

  1. The next day, pour room temperature water in the bowl of your stand mixer.
  2. Add the poolish and break it up with a wooden spoon (gently now!) and stir until it is dissolved.
  3. Add about 1 cup (5 ounces) of flour and the salt and stir until combined.
  4. Place the dough hook on the mixer, and slowly start to add the rest of the flour (you may not need it all) until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Knead for 12 minutes at the second speed of the mixer.
  6. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand a few times. You don’t need to knead a lot, and it won’t have any gluten structure at this point. You are just doing a final gather of the dough here.
collage showing how to mix sourdough dough

Bulk Proofing with Stretch and Folds

  1. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm room temperature place for 45 minutes.
  2. Remove the plastic covering and stretch the dough out and fold it over itself (in 3’s, like a pamphlet). You want to grab the side furthest from you and stretch it up and out away from you, then fold it back over to the center of the dough. Turn the bowl of dough 90 degrees to the right. Grab the next portion of dough that is farthest away from you and repeat the stretch the fold. Do this two more times, rotating the bowl each time, until you have stretched and folded each “edge” of the dough.
  3. Recover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise another 45 minutes.
  4. Repeat the stretch and fold from before, recover, and let rise for 60 minutes.
  5. Place the risen dough over a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, and without deflating it too much, form it into a ball.
  6. Let it rise for 45 minutes.

How do I know when proofing is over? It has risen enough when you can carefully make a small dent in the dough with your finger, and the dent disappears and the dough springs back. Halfway through this time, prepare the oven.

collage showing steps to stretch and fold

Shaping

  1. Shape the dough into a long loaf. Use gentle, delicate hands and pick up the ball and turn it over. Stretch the dough into rounded square shape. Pick up the top two “corners” (if it was a square) and fold them into the center of the dough. Pick up the bottom two corners of the dough and fold them up into the center, overlapping the other edge. Grab the other side edge and bring it into the center. Turn the dough and carefully roll it tightly into a log, kind of pushing it tight (roll, push up, roll, push up, etc) as you roll. Tuck the ends under. Make sure that the seam side is down. 
  2. Let it proof for 1 hour on the parchment paper, at a warm room temperature. It does not need to double in size here, but will get puffier.

Optional: At this step you can place it in the fridge overnight and bake the next day. If you do this, give it an hour or two at room temp before you bake.

collage showing shaping of loaf

To Bake:

  1. Place a small metal baking tray on the bottom rack of the oven (this is to help create steam while you bake. You can use like a roaster or something, as long as it can take the heat. It doesn’t need to be big) and a baking stone on the rack above it. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. Score your bread with a long slash down the center of your bread (or whatever pattern you would like) with a lame or bread scoring knife. 
collage showing scoring
  1. Carefully transfer the dough with the parchment paper onto the baking stone. Toss a few ice cubes into the baking tray below to create steam.
  2. Bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Turn the oven temperature down to 425 degrees and bake for an additional 35 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool on a rack for a few hours before slicing into it. It needs to be completely cool before you slice it, it still does some cooking 
  5. Enjoy!
collage showing baking

Ready to take your sourdough bread to the next level? Try these tasty sourdough bread recipes:

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Yield: 12 Servings

San Francisco Sourdough Bread Recipe

sourdough san fransisco bread

This San Francisco Sourdough Bread Recipe is packed with awesome sourdough flavor, has a thick chewy texture and is perfect for sandwiches, french toast, grilled cheese and more!

Prep Time 6 hours
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 6 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients

for the poolish:

  • 4 ounces sourdough starter, 100% hydration, fed and active
  • 4 ounces bread flour
  • 4 ounces water

for the dough:

  • 8 ounces water
  • all the poolish
  • 16 ounces bread flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt

Instructions

Make the poolish the day before you want to make the bread:

Combine all the poolish ingredients in a medium bowl and leave at room temperature (that's 74-80 degrees F, I had to leave mine in the laundry room!) for 24 hours, covered in plastic wrap.

Make the dough:

  1. The next day, pour room temperature water in the bowl of your mixer.
  2. Add the poolish and break it up with a wooden spoon (gently now!) and stir until it is dissolved.
  3. Add about 1 cup (5 ounces) of flour and the salt and stir until combined.
  4. Place the dough hook on the mixer, and slowly start to add the rest of the flour (you may not need it all) until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Knead for 12 minutes at the second speed of the mixer.
  6. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand a few times. You don’t need to knead a lot, and it won’t have any gluten structure at this point. You are just doing a final gather of the dough, here.

Bulk Proofing with Stretch and Folds

  1. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm room temperature place for 45 minutes.
  2. Remove the plastic covering and stretch the dough out and fold it over itself (in 3's, like a pamphlet). You want to grab the side furthest from you and stretch it up and out away from you, then fold it back over to the center of the dough.
  3. Turn the bowl of dough 90 degrees to the right.
  4. Grab the next portion of dough that is farthest away from you and repeat the stretch the fold.
  5. Do this two more times, rotating the bowl each time, until you have stretched and folded each “edge” of the dough.
  6. Recover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise another 45 minutes.
  7. Repeat the stretch and fold from before, recover, and let rise for 60 minutes.
  8. Place the risen dough over a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, and without deflating it too much, form it into a ball.
  9. Let it rise for 45 minutes.

Shaping:

  1. Shape the dough into a long loaf. Use gentle, delicate hands and pick up the ball and turn it over.
  2. Stretch the dough into rounded square shape.
  3. Pick up the top two “corners” (if it was a square) and fold them into the center of the dough.
  4. Pick up the bottom two corners of the dough and fold them up into the center, overlapping the other edge.
  5. Grab the other side edge and bring it into the center.
  6. Turn the dough and carefully roll it tightly into a log, kind of pushing it tight (roll, push up, roll, push up, etc) as you roll.
  7. Tuck the ends under.
  8. Make sure that the seam side is down.
  9. Let it proof for 1 hour on the parchment paper, at a warm room temperature. It does not need to double in size here, but will get puffier.

    Optional: At this step you can place it in the fridge overnight and bake the next day. If you do this, give it an hour or two at room temp before you bake.

To Bake:

  1. Place a small metal baking tray on the bottom rack of the oven (this is to help create steam while you bake. You can use like a roaster or something, as long as it can take the heat. It doesn’t need to be big) and a baking stone on the rack above it.
  2. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Score your bread with a long slash down the center of your bread (or whatever pattern you would like) with a lame or bread scoring knife.
  4. Carefully transfer the dough with the parchment paper onto the baking stone.
  5. Toss a few ice cubes into the baking tray below to create steam.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Turn the oven temperature down to 425 degrees and bake for an additional 35 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool on a rack for a few hours before slicing into it. It needs to be completely cool before you slice it, it still does some cooking
  9. Enjoy!

Notes

How do I know when proofing is over? It has risen enough when you can carefully make a small dent in the dough with your finger, and the dent disappears and the dough springs back. Halfway through this time, prepare the oven.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 188Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 293mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is an estimate and is provided for informational purposes only. For the most accurate information, please calculate using your specific brands and exact measurements.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram, and don't forget to tag #gingeredwhisk.

adapted from San Francisco Sourdough Bread (Bewitching Kitchen, Daniel Leader’s Bread Alone)

slices of bread on cutting board
san fransisco sourdough bread loaf ready to be baked
san fransisco sourdough bread sliced into slices

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