Jun 4, 2016

Wild Yeast San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread

Wild Yeast San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread

I am pretty happy with this Wild Yeast San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread. The bread has an amazing sourdough "tang," and has a lovely airy and gelatinized crumb. Plus, my sourdough starter did all of the work.

Wild Yeast San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread

This bread is San Francisco "style" because, unless you live in The City, you don't have access to Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis to the same extent that you would if you lived there. Fortunately, according to Peter Reinhart, these yeasty organisms exist everywhere, but just not in the same concentration as they do in San Francisco. I guess it's way better than in my town or yours.

However... I will testify that the yeasties in my neighborhood produced some pretty amazing bread. Judge for yourself.

Wild Yeast San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread

Holey moley!

This bread takes a couple of days to make, but the schedule is fairly flexible after the first rise. The bread is tasty, and pretty hard not to hide from the rest of the members of your household so that you can keep it for yourself.

Wild Yeast San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread

Wild Yeast San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread

Makes two approximately 1 1/4 pound loaves



56 grams 100 percent hydration sourdough starter that has been fed and gotten bubbly within the last 36 hours
227 grams unbleached bread flour
142 grams water

Final Dough

All of the Starter
397 grams of lukewarm water (95 degrees F)
567 grams unbleached bread flour
18 grams Kosher or sea salt


Day One:

  1. Combine all of the starter ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a dough whisk or large spoon for about two minutes. 
  2. Turn the dough out onto your counter and knead by hand for about 30 seconds. Return it to the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for six to eight hours. Place the starter in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Day Two:

  1. Cut the starter into small pieces and place them in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water, and mix with the paddle attachment on low speed for about a minute. 
  2. Add the flour and the salt and switch to the dough hook. Knead on the lowest speed for about two minutes. Let the dough rest for five minutes. 
  3. Mix on medium low with the dough hook (you can also hand knead) for four minutes. Your dough should be on the sticky side. 
  4. Transfer the dough to the work surface and hand knead for about two minutes. This dough is pretty sticky, so sometimes I will lightly oil my hands. 
  5. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, and then do one "stretch and fold" from all four "sides" of the dough. 
  6. Form the dough into a ball, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Do one more stretch and fold, and then place the dough into a large oiled bowl, cover, and let rise at room temperature for four hours. Place the dough in the refrigerator for up to three days. 

Day Three:

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for two hours. 
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl, divide it in half, and gently shape it into two boules or batards. You can also make rolls. You can place the loaves seam side up in floured brotforms, or place them seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for about two hours, until they grow to about 1 1/2 times their original size. 
  3. One hour before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with two cast iron Dutch ovens placed on a rack on the lower third of the oven. 
  4. Carefully remove the Dutch ovens from the oven, and place the dough seam side down into the pan. Slash the dough, cover, and place the pan back in the oven. (You can also bake the loaves on a baking stone with steam as with this bread.)
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, uncover, and bake for 10 to 25 minutes more, until browned and the interior has reached 200 degrees F. 
  6. Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Wild Yeast San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories


  1. Karen, I love sourdough bread a lot , your sourdough bread looks wonderful and look at those big crumbs , thank you for sharing this lovely sourdough bread from Peter Reinhart’s, you’re the best Karen ..P.S. can you stop by and see my new post and thank you.

    1. So many of the so called San Francisco Sourdough Bread recipes have commercial yeast in them, eggs, margarine and other junk. Thank you for this no frills authentic recipe.

    2. Thanks Ernie! I know what you mean =)

  2. Gorgeous! Always wondered if it was possible to make a truly great sourdough at home with wild yeast.

  3. I haven't baked bread with wild yeast in months! I refreshed my neglected starter before leaving on this trip, but put it back to hibernate.. it was so active that it made me feel guilty!

    but soon I'll be back home and maybe this bread could be my first to bake... it is a classical holey moley type of bread.... ;-)

  4. I have been diligent about feeding my sourdough starter. This is tempting me to try the recipe soon and make it a Milehigh sourdough bread!! Loved it.

  5. I can't wait to try this soon Karen--looks fabulous!

  6. So excited to bake this. What a wonderful recipe for gifting. Super easy to follow and simple ingredients

  7. Using this recipe, how would you alter it to cook it in a bread pan for sandwiches? Thanks.

    1. I'd make my soft sourdough sandwich bread instead. It's in the index. Better for a bread pan.

  8. My first starter it's 7 days old. And my first sourdough was started today. Will fill you in how it goes in a few days! :-)

  9. Okay, so I am new at sourdough. Still learning a lot and testing out different methods and how much I need to feed before baking.

    You say on the first day after mixing the starter you should take it out of the bowl and knead for 30 seconds. But isn't it too thin to do that? Maybe I'm measuring wrong?

    And my second question... on the last step of Day 2, after the 4 hour rise time, can I just skip straight to step two of Day 3? Or does the dough need to go in the fridge?

    1. Hi Bethany. Regarding the starter, after you add the 227 grams of flour and the 142 grams of water, the starter should be stiff enough to knead by hand. Maybe I should rename it "preferment" so that it won't be confused with the sourdough starter =) Regarding the rest in the fridge, you could skip the overnight refrigerator rest, but that is part of the process in order to develop a true sourdough flavor and the unique texture of the crumb. Happy baking!

    2. Thank you Karen! I may need to get a scale, as I was doing my best to convert to cups. That may be why mine was thinner.
      And good to know on the overnight in the fridge. Wasn't sure if it was necessary or just to space out the process a bit.
      Two questions...when preheating oven with Dutch ovens, do you keep lids on or off? And if I want to make one large loaf instead of dividing, would the bake time increase or stay the same?

    3. Oh definitely get a scale. Not only is it more accurate, you save on washing measuring cups!

      Regarding the Dutch ovens, I preheat with the lids on. If you want to make a large loaf, the bake time would be longer. I'd also lower the oven temp to 425 when you remove the lid, and then move the loaf to a sheet pan so the bottom doesn't burn. I've started doing that with all of my DO bakes.


I would love to hear from you!