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Cracked Wheat San Francisco Sour

I have been working with my San Francisco Starter and came up with a 65% hydration Sourdough with a small amount of cracked wheat thrown it for texture and eye appeal. I used a larger amount of starter than usual in the mix, to have the dough raise a little quicker. The dough was great to work with, sticky, yes, but bubbly and airy too. I started with:

  • SF starter, vigorous and at 166% hydration – 32 oz
  • tepid water- 20 oz
  • Sea salt – 1.2 oz
  • Oil- .8 oz
  • Cracked wheat – 1.5 – 3 oz (put in more or less to suit your taste, I used 1.5 oz)
  • Bread flour – 48 oz

Do the usual mix, autolyse and bulk ferment. I bulk fermented for seven hours, folding the dough several times while it fermented in a covered,flat retangular container. You can see in the pictures how the dough strengthened with the folding.

After bulk fermentation, shape loaves and then refrigerate overnight for 12 – 14 hours. Take out and warm up and proof your dough. Then bake when ready, using the roasting lid method of baking. This is how the dough looked as it was nearing baking time, with one loaf already in the oven:

The resulting bread is terrific with a wonderful crisp crust and holey crumb, just what you expect and hope for in a San Francisco loaf.

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  1. Jacqueline Lostritto Jacqueline Lostritto
    December 11, 2008    

    How do you get those beautiful ears? I have recently started baking my sourdough in a woodfired oven that my husband built and so I’m working on learning how to regulate the temperature. I’m getting a decent oven spring, but I don’t get the nice “ears” in my slashes. Maybe I’m not slashing deep enough?

    Beautiful loaves!

  2. December 12, 2008    

    Hi Jacqueline,slash at an angle so you get more of a “flap”, make sure the dough is proofed correctly, and use a lower hydration dough, 64% or lower. Teresa

  3. John John
    December 13, 2009    

    Just made this recipe using Guisto’s High Performer and Ultragrain at 50/50. The hydration level turned out a bit high to hold a boule shape. The right flour for different recipes seems to be a trend that I am running across far to often and it’s always hydration levels that seem to be problematic. Any flour recommendations for higher hydration recipes would be helpful. BTW…I scale everything in grams.

  4. January 31, 2010    

    What temperature and for how long do you bake this bread?


    • January 31, 2010    

      Hi Sarah, the temperature would be 450 degrees for the first 20 minutes with the roasting lid coverin a well preheated oven witha baking stone, then take off the cover and turn the oven down to 425 degrees for 10-15 more minutes. Teresa

      • January 31, 2010    

        Thank you so much Teresa! After I had posed the question via comment I perused some other, similar recipes of yours and found the youtube link to your roasting pan technique – fascinating! Unfortunately I don’t have a roasting pan with a lid (yet!) so I did my normal technique of a cookie sheet under the baking stone and pouring hot water in it for steam. I think my MIL has an old roasting pan in her basement though, so your technique is on my list to try!

        We baked this bread this afternoon and I enjoyed slicing into my first baked loaf for a light supper with homemade pesto on top. My (almost three year old) son dipped it in olive oil and balsamic and just adored it as his afternoon snack. Plus, it was my first time getting great blistering on the crust and the crumb was lovely.

        Thank you so much for the inspiration! I so enjoy your blog!


        • January 31, 2010    

          Thankyou Sarah, getting feedback like yours is what spurs me on. Try using an upside down metal bowl or pan that has oven safe handles, or use an aluminum turkey pan or even get some heavy aluminum foil and make up your own temporary lid.


  5. Keith Keith
    February 1, 2010    

    I have another question Teresa.

    The measures you use, are they dry or wet ?

    And is the starter wet measure or by weight ?

    And is the flour by weight ?



  6. Mark Mark
    March 23, 2010    

    Finally fantastic bread , came out perfect brown crisp crust, holey creamy crumb, and best of all a great rise and spring !!! I used Your SFO starter, 1/2 GM bread flour 1/2 KA Sir Lancelot (half recipe) . Made one 1 1/2 pound batard and a fist sized round, saving 1# 4 oz to try Power Flour bread using KA .
    I just got a Fibrament stone so I think it has alot to do with oven spring , my Pizza took a night and day turn for the better with it .
    Been struggleing for years with sourdough ,this recipe has boosted my confidence. Hope it wasn’t a lucky accident and I can repeat it !
    Thanks Teresa

    • March 23, 2010    

      Wow Mark, what a great story, I am so happy your bread is a success! Thankyou. Teresa

  7. Guy Guy
    October 13, 2010    

    Now this bread looks awesome…makes me wish the internet had smell capability…lol! I have to do this!

  8. cynthia eklund cynthia eklund
    June 25, 2011    

    Questionn: Do you soak or grind the cracked wheat before adding it?

  9. cynthia eklund cynthia eklund
    June 25, 2011    

    Question: Do you grind or soak the cracked wheat before adding it?

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      January 22, 2012    

      I either do a soaker or take into account the water in the dough necessary for the grains to absorb.

  10. Leslie Johnson Leslie Johnson
    January 22, 2012    

    I have no S.F. sourdough starter, but the bread sounded and looked so good I decided to try it with my ww sourdough starter @166% hydration. I understand from reading your e-book that a 6-8hr. fermenting starter like mine shouldn’t do well with a long fermenting recipe like this, but I tried it none the less. The results were FABULOUS! My loaves looked like yours with great hole structure and tangy soft interior and a wonderful blistered hard crust. They were just a tiny bit off-white with the ww starter addition. I’m going to have to get some S.F. starter and compare. Thanks for all you share with the rest of us.

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      January 22, 2012    

      I too have had great success with the 6-8 hour starters for these breads and can get a better sour than with the SF. However, the shorter starters, the Alaskan and the French sometimes don’t hold up well. I am glad you had such great success, there is nothing more addicting than success!!!

  11. March 17, 2012    

    Love your website,very helpful. I too have stumbled along the path of making a good sourdough until i started using the “roasting pan / lid method” It opened my eyes to the importance of keeping the exterior moist for maximum oven jump. My first loaf was so beautiful i gave it to a friend just to special to keep for myself. thanks for all your great insight.

  12. Steve Steve
    January 30, 2013    

    I received the San Francisco sourdough starter from you in the mail yesterday, and followed the instructions to mix it, and stirred it up again today. I’m looking forward to baking with it.

    (I had kept a starter culture, originally bought at a long-gone kitchen store, for almost twenty years. Unfortunately, a few years ago my horrible ex-girlfriend didn’t know it was supposed to smell like a sourdough culture, and threw it away. Fortunately, I got away from her, met and married someone wonderful, and she’s curious to taste the bread from your sourdough starter.)

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      January 31, 2013    

      Sounds like you made a good decision! She is a lucky lady to have you baking for her.

  13. Brian Brian
    April 22, 2013    

    Hmmm… I am a newbie baker. My starter is 2 months old. I got it from King Arthur Flour company. I follow their instruction of taking out half of it and then feeding it 1 cup of AP Flour and 1 cup of water. What would the hydration level of my starter be? Would it be suitable for this recipe?

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      April 23, 2013    

      Your starter would be around 166% hydration and should work fine for this formula. To be more accurate with your hydration levels, use a scale when feeding your starter and for mixing the formulas.

      Happy Baking!

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