San Francisco Sourdough Bread

As I’ve been catching up on my blog reading over the past week or so, I’ve noticed that a lot of people are interested in learning to bake bread this year. I love it! I plan to continue baking homemade bread this year, and I’m thrilled to see that so many others are excited about it, as well.

This year, I’m really excited to experiment more with sourdough.  I’ve played around with it a bit in the past, and it’s a favorite of mine. Sourdough bread is really quite simple to make, and you can’t beat the amazing flavor that comes from the sourdough starter.  While many people seem to be a bit afraid of it, I would argue that sourdough bread can be one of the easiest breads to make, and I think it’s a great place to start!

So, today I’m teaming up with Red Star Yeast to bring you a great recipe for sourdough bread.  It’s a pretty basic recipe, and I’d really encourage you to give it a try.  Baking sourdough bread does require a sourdough starter, but you can easily make your own sourdough starter at home… You’ll just have to wait a few days before you give this recipe a try.  But, I promise you that it will be worth the effort.

I’ve made this sourdough bread myself a few times, and I have photos to help you through each step of the process. And, if you still have questions or need some encouragement,  I’m here to help!  You can certainly leave a question in the comments here, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Twitter is also a great place to get help as you’re baking, and you can always chat with me (@JenSchall) or the great folks at Red Star Yeast (@RedStarYeast), as well! We’re happy to answer your questions. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with posting a photo of your finished loaf and bragging a bit amongst friends… We’d love to know how it turns out!

So, whether you’re a bread baking pro or you’ve just decided to start baking homemade bread this year, I’d really encourage you join me in starting the year off with some homemade sourdough bread. This recipe uses standard bread flour, and yields a nice, crusty loaf of bread with a light crumb.  As you get more comfortable with the sourdough bread, you can start to experiment with new types of flour for multigrain and whole wheat versions, as well!

Oh, and did I mention that this bread makes a mean grilled cheese?  I’ve got a simple recipe for my new favorite grilled cheese coming later this week, so stay tuned!

San Francisco Sourdough Bread
Makes 1 large loaf
(Recipe from Red Star Yeast, used with permission)

  • 3 cups bread flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon warm water (120º-130ºF)
  • 1 cup sourdough starter

In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together 1 cup of bread flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.  Add the warm water and 1 cup of sourdough starter. Fit the mixer with the paddle/beater blade attachment and beat for about 4 minutes on medium speed.

Switch over to the dough hook, and gradually add the remaining flour and knead with the dough hook for about 5 – 7 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and elastic.  If necessary, add additional bread flour to reach the right texture.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough over in the bowl to lightly grease all sides of the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let the dough rise until the imprint of two fingers pressed into the dough remains (about 1 1/2 – 2 hours).

Prepare a baking sheet by lightly greasing it (or lining it with a silicon liner) and sprinkling it with cornmeal. Set aside.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and punch it down to remove any air bubbles.  Using your hands, pat the dough into a rectangle approximately 12 inches by 5 inches.  Starting with the shorter side, roll the dough tightly.  Pinch the edges seal so that you have a long loaf. Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise until an indentation remains on the side after touching the dough (about an additional 1 – 1 1/2 hours).

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Use a sharp knife to make 2 or 3 diagonal slashes across the top of the loaf.  Mist the dough with cold water before baking for 30 – 35 minutes. Remove the loaf from the cookie sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

My Kitchen Addiction Disclosure – This post was sponsored by Red Star Yeast.  Though I have been compensated to write this post, all opinions expressed are my own.

34 Responses to San Francisco Sourdough Bread

  1. Jen, I just love how you make things look so easy! I’ve always wanted to make sourdough bread (it’s on my baking bucket list), but after reading this, I think I’m gonna tackle it sooner rather than later. Thanks for sharing all this!

  2. Your loaf is a work of art! Truly!!!
    I have my sourdough starter on my counter. Tomorrow is day number 5 so I’ll be ready to bake this sourdough bread too. Thanks so much for encouraging me to do this Jen. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. I can’t wait to smell this bread baking in the oven!!!

  3. Your sourdough bread turned out beautifully! Such great step-by-step photos; and I do love the heart bowl :) I hope this will encourage lots of bread baking in the new year.

  4. I made your starter on Wednesday and it seems to be doing well. I’m so excited to try this SF Sourdough Bread tomorrow and if mine turns out half as wonderful as your looks I’ll be one happy lady.

    Thanks so much for sharing these recipes with us. I can’t wait to tell people that I learned how to make SF Sourdough Bread (and riser) from Jen at My Kitchen Addiction ;)

  5. Going to the pantry and gathering my ingredients for starter; hopefully in 5+ days I will make this bread. Thanks for the recipe. Will let you know the outcome.

  6. What is the cold water for? To make the crust crusty? :) Thanks for the great recipe, I want to give sourdough a try.

    • Monica – Yes, spraying with cold water is what makes the crust crisp and crusty. You can actually continue to mist the bread throughout the first 10-ish minutes of baking, but I usually just do it once before it goes in the oven. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  7. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect sourdough recipe, and this one might be it! Mine didn’t look nearly as perfect as yours did though! I will post a link to your recipe when I blog about it! Thank you so much!

  8. Okay, I gotta try this with my sourdough starter! Mostly because I want to make grilled cheese LOL but also because it’s such a pretty-looking loaf!!

  9. Sorry but while it’s a good looking loaf, it’s not SF Sourdough. Without Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, etc. it’s just sourdough. Good tasting maybe but not SF.

  10. Thank you!! I haven’t tried baking bread in 20 years. When it came out like a couple of bricks, I gave up and decided it was just something I wouldn’t be good at. When your blog post came up on Facebook, I thought I’d give it a try. When you said easy, you weren’t kidding! Now I’m looking forward to trying more of the recipes on your blog and the Red Star site! Here’s a picture of my fresh-from-the-oven sourdough bread:

  11. I am wondering what the difference is between all-purpose flour and bread flour. Can I use all-purpose in this recipe or will it not turn out?

    • Hi, Denise – Bread flour contains more gluten than all purpose flour does, so it tends to rise a bit better, and may produce a slightly chewier loaf of bread. That said, I’ve made this recipe with both bread flour and all purpose flour, and it will work out just fine. Just be sure to knead it well to develop the gluten.

  12. I am so excited to finally use the starter that has been sitting on my counter screaming at me for tha last 5 days! Quick question, after I replenish my starter can I store it in an airtight container in my fridge or does it need air in there too? (Honestly, I don’t want it stinking up my fridge so I hope the answer is yes!)

    • Hi, Erica – Yes, you can keep the starter in an airtight container in the fridge… It is better if it gets some air (in something like a crock or a mason jar that’s not completely sealed), but I have kept mine in a tupperware container in the past, and it’s been OK. Just remember to stir in a bit of sugar each week to keep it going, and keep replenishing with 1 cup flour + 1/2 cup water. Happy baking!

  13. I have started the starter & plan to follow your instructions exactly. I am so hoping this will taste close to the Boudin’s Sourdough I became addicted to in SanF. Now I confess, I have started about 8 different starters & I am no where near close to a good loaf. I forget about them, or I hurry them along, in the oven, or my sister wrecked one even, or I even tried to keep one warm wedging it in the edge of guest water bed. Now what a mess that was! Undaunted I begin again…….will let you know how it comes out! – or not! BJ

  14. I’ve been trying out several different bread recipes in these past few months; mostly these are recipes from Pinterest. When I read how quick and easy your recipe was to make, I jumped right into the mix. Coincidently, I whipped up a starter last week so I had instant gratification when I came across your pin. Directions were easy to follow and I took the liberty of spreading my dough with homemade spinach pesto and Greek olives before I rolled it up! The bread is taking its final rest and I can’t wait to cut into it. Thanks for the FANTASTIC recipe!

  15. This will be the second time I’ve made this recipe, and each time it comes out great! I even doubled it today. One of the main reasons I like your so much is that it has a larger amount of starter to bread ratio. How is it SD with 1/2 cup of starter to 6 cups of flour?

  16. Made this bread today. It came out so tasty. I usually avoid yeast recipes because I can’t always make it work.

  17. thank you so much for this bread. Just took it out of oven and let me tell you it smells and looks amazing. Can’t wait to eat it….. I’m just learning about making breads and have had my starters sitting for two weeks. I’ve done whole wheat sourdough loafs but not the white flour tell today. Thanks so much

  18. There are a few things wrong with your recipients. The kneading time and the amount of sugar to yeast.kneading time should be twelve minutes not five or seven minutes. I followed your recepie to the letter and noticed right away something wasn’t right.