San Francisco Sourdough – The Insomniac’s Version

Having been subjected to a general anaesthetic for knee surgery the day before, my circadian rhythm was clearly struggling to re-establish itself yesterday morning. Bright as a lark, I found myself perusing recipes and blogs on the cursed ever-present smartphone. One of my favourite sourdough bloggers is dmsnyder on, and I was taken by his San Francisco sourdough with added wholewheat, which looked and sounded divine. My drug-addled brain calculated that I would have just enough time to squeeze in a bake before heading back to bed in around 21 hours time, so slipping on my dressing gown, I glided (hobbled) downstairs to get to work.

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Now, my version of this recipe required an increase in the relative amount of flour included in the preferment in order to cram the baking schedule into one day, so it is not absolutely true to the original. I have to say though that I am really impressed with this formula, particularly the preferment, which has given the bread oodles of tangy sourness, and the prolonged steaming helped produce a really crisp crackling crust.

Here’s how my day progressed:

2.45am Staggered into kitchen in a confused state. Switched on coffee maker. Combined the following ingredients for the preferment:

  • 95g strong white flour
  • 10g rye flour
  • 45g water
  • 50g starter (100% hydration)

3.40am Realised getting up this early was a terrible idea, back to bed.

5.30am No way I was getting back to sleep (now quite rageful). Got back up and started working on another bake (more on this some other time- top secret for now).

11.00am Began on rest of this bread using the following:

  • 245g Plain white flour
  • 140g Wholewheat flour
  • 312ml Water
  • 8g Salt

Roughly mixed the flours and water, and allowed to autolyse, covered, for half an hour. Then, using a hand mixer and dough hooks, mixed the preferment, dough, and salt for around 5 minutes, until it was quite smooth and pliable. Allowed to rest.

12.00pm Stretched and folded dough.

12.05pm Collapsed in bed.

1.30pm Woke with realisation dough had been resting too long, downstairs to S&F again.

2.30pm One last S&F, placed dough in clean bowl and covered.

4.00pm Shaped dough, placed in banneton and covered.

9.30pm Placed well-risen dough in hot oven (230C) with steam for 30 minutes, then 15 mins without. Placed bread on wire rack to cool. Lost consciousness.


The results are interesting- because of the low amount of bread flour in the recipe and the reasonably high hydration (74%), I had expected the dough to be quite slack, but in fact it was a delight to handle and shape. 25% of the flour in the recipe is prefermented in the levain, which probably aided with gluten development. I had expected this high percentage to detract from the sourness of the bread as it would cause the rest of the fermentation to proceed more quickly, but the end result is just to my taste, with plenty of tang.


4 thoughts on “San Francisco Sourdough – The Insomniac’s Version

      • Distracted as I was by holiday (yay, holiday!), I forgot to return and say the bread was spectacular. Will try it again soon and will send you pics – thanks again for a super cool recipe!


      • Yessss!! I’m so happy someone actually tried one of the recipes 😆:mrgreen:☺!! Thanks Alexis, that really makes my day (night). Hope the holiday was brilliant 😎 Stay tuned for some healthy sourdough alternatives to traditional sweets….. coming soon to a blog near you

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