Homemade San Francisco Sourdough Bread

This post is Part 2 of baking with sourdough. Part 1 was Sourdough – Reviving your Starter when for the first time making bread I weighed my Rosebud starter, flour and water as I went through a 2-day process of turning her into a bubbly happy camper. I was turning cups into grams and even ounces – something very new for me.

Math was involved which just so happens was my worst subject throughout school (from grade school to a Masters in Information Technology – I was a librarian) so you can imagine my thought, did I actually get the right number of grams. This recipe shows what I made with my energized and renewed starter through the weighing process. All I can say it is very hard to teach an old dog new tricks 🙂

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This recipe is also special because I used sour salt/citric salt to give my bread a little more sour taste. When I first tried  sourdough bread  in San Francisco many years ago, on a business-pleasure trip with Gene, I knew some day I would  make my own as this was Gene’s favorite bread and for him, the sourer the better! I even ordered gift baskets from Boudin Bakery in San Francisco a few times as we just loved their bread.

Needless to say I have experimented some using sour salt but never recorded my results so I am really starting out fresh. A lot of other priorities came before it such as baking and decorating cakes for special occasions, birthdays, holidays or other events. Anyways, it was easier to satisfy Gene’s sweet tooth than try to meet his standards for sourdough or any bread for that matter. Gene judged a restaurant by how good their bread was. Of course here in the United States bread is served first so we always had a pretty good idea of what the entrees would taste like. Honestly, he was rarely wrong.


Sour salt lends a wonderfully assertive tang to sourdough breads. You can add it to a number of things where you want more of a tang to your recipe, like a cake or regular bread. KAF’s good rule of thumb is to use no more than 1/8 tsp. sour salt for each cup of flour used.

So, what makes the sour in sourdough bread? There are two acids, lactic and acetic which are created as the dough rises and ferments. Refrigerating the dough encourages the production of more acetic than lactic which is the tangier of the two. Thus, refrigerating your sourdough before baking will have more of a sour flavor. Then add some sour salt and you have really made this a memory of San Francisco, for me anyways 🙂

I am pleased with the results of this bread after using my very “active starter, Rosebud“. By the way, Rosebud is a daughter of Selma’s Twinkle who was a favorite blogger with Fiesta Friday. This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread.

Homemade San Francisco Sourdough Bread, Adapted

  • 1 cup “fed” sourdough starter, 8-8-1/2 oz. or 227-241 grams
  • 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water (about 90°F), 12 oz. or 340 grams
  • 5 cups flour, divided, 4-1/4 oz. or 120 grams per cup of flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. salt
  • up to 1/8 tsp. per cup of flour or 5/8 tsp. sour salt (optional, but I strongly recommend) I used 1/2 tsp. and next time I will add the extra 1/8 tsp.

Combine the active starter (see Reviving your Sourdough Starter), water and 3 cups of the flour. Remember, these ingredients are all being weighed. Beat vigorously for 1 minute. I tried my hand mixer but the dough crawled up the beaters; if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook definitely use it.

Cover and set aside for 4 hours at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight for about 12 hours.

Add the remaining 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt and sour salt if desired. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes to get a smooth dough. I also added 1/8 to 1/4 cup extra flour so it would not be sticky – this is the key to this bread as you do not want it sticky! If adding more flour is an issue you can wet your fingers to make the dough more manageable.

Place the dough in a greased, covered bowl until it’s relaxed, smoothed out and has risen. It all depends on the vigor of your starter as to how puffy it becomes. This could take any where from 2 to 5 hours. It took my dough 4 hours to double in size and I was happy; just remember results will vary.

Divide the dough in half and place on a parchment baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Since I was baking 2 loaves I cut the parchment in half for easier handling. The dough was not sticky and I was able to stretch and form the two loaves of dough. I sprayed the tops of the loaves with baking spray and covered the two loaves with plastic wrap, then a cloth and placed them in the oven with the light turned on.

This last rising before baking can be anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. The loaves are known to spread more than they rise.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray the loaves with lukewarm water . Make two fairly deep diagonal slashes using a lame or a bread knife.

Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes until it’s a very deep golden color.

COMMENT: I used 1/2 tsp. (not 5/8 tsp.) and the sourdough tang was just perfect for me. I loved it without butter and that is saying something; the bread was delicious on its own. Yes, I did brush on melted butter after they came out of the oven – can’t have bread without some butter!

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com 

My Rosebud starter never looked better!  Overnight rising created an active dough ready for the next step which was beating  part of the ingredients vigorously for 1 minute. This was best done in my stand mixer as the dough climbs up the beaters of a hand mixer.

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After the addition of the rest of the ingredients and 10 minutes of kneading my dough is complete and is ready for the first rising. The dough more than doubled in 4 hours – Rosebud is working her “magic” and then some.

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My dough was stretched and shaped into two perfect loaves below. I did not take a picture of how much the two loaves grew in just a couple of hours. KAF wrote “not to worry if the loaves spread more than they rise, they’ll pick up once they hit the oven’s heat”. This did not happen – my loaves were huge – reminded me of a loaf of ciabatta! Is it possible to have too strong of a starter?


I need to take a course on scoring bread and shaping probably too.  Amazing all of the different ways there are and the reasons behind them 🙂 Don’t you just love that black walnut lame?

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After the loaves came out of the oven I brushed them with melted butter to get a softer crust. The loaves did not look like what I was expecting but the sour flavor was fantastic.


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In conclusion: I will go back to my old ways of making bread. At my age making such a drastic change from eye-balling to weighing is just not in my future. It was fun to do and who knows – maybe I will try it again. Sour salt will definitely be an ingredient in future sourdough recipes. Also, I usually only feed Rosebud once or twice prior to using her – two days was overkill 🙂


I am hurrying over to join the party at Fiesta Friday #115 where Angie, Ashley and Julie are hosting yet again a terrific celebration.

38 thoughts on “Homemade San Francisco Sourdough Bread

  1. I think your bread came out beautifully! I need to get over myself and get on with the sourdough baking. I’ve not been to San Francisco, but I’ve heard that they are known for their sourdough bread? Thanks for sharing your techniques too Judi!


  2. Interesting to see how you got on with a different technique..the outcome looks great! And yes, you know I love your lame, and I love that I have the same one in my kitchen so far away 🙂


  3. I never knew citric acid was also known as sour salt… thanks for the education! Thanks also for taking me along on your experiment. Old way? New way? I’d eat your bread any old way. 😉 Looks fabulous, Judi!


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