San Francisco Sourdough Bread Recipe -
San Francisco Sourdough Bread Recipe

San Francisco Sourdough Bread

Recipe by  

"Use a good sourdough starter, one you have tended to, for best flavor."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 2 loaves Change Servings


  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and dry yeast. Add milk and softened butter or margarine. Stir in starter. Mix in up to 3 3/4 cups flour gradually, you may need more depending on your climate.
  2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to oil surface, and cover. Allow to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in volume.
  3. Punch down, and let rest 15 minutes. Shape into loaves. Place on a greased baking pan. Allow to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.
  4. Brush egg wash over tops of loaves, and sprinkle with chopped onion.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 30 minutes, or till done.
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  • Tip
  • Aluminum foil can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.

Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Oct 28, 2004

I haven't tried this recipe yet, I just wanted to point out that sourdough starters made in different places have different levels of sour flavor - my starter will taste differently than one made in another state, for example. Therefore, unless you're IN San Fran, you're unlikely to make a sourdough that tastes like San Fran sour; this may explain why some folks think the recipe produces bread that is not sour enough.

Most Helpful Critical Review
Mar 24, 2010

After using this format, the recipe is very good with some modifications. First off, it should never be called SF Sourdough Bread for the same reasons as mentioned before, PLUS - I live in San Francisco, and we rarely see bread served with onion on top of sourdough. Other specialty breads, yes, but to us, that's corrupting the true SF style sourdough. It should simply be called "Onion-Topped Sourdough". Second, I HIGHLY recommend using water instead. Real SF Sourdough never has milk, and use can sugar and sea salt for improved flavor. The yeast is marginal, as it's not often used here. That's supposed to be why the starter is used, but it doesn't rise correctly unless you use 1 cup starter per loaf and extend the rise time out to 2-3 hours in a warm oven. Also use Unbleached flour for denser bread (more like SF). Next, use ONLY the egg white to lightly brush on top of the loaf right before baking, not with the yolk. Last, there's no mention in the recipe what to do with the last Tbsp of water. I'd omit that, as the egg white does not need water added. If you want closer to authentic SF Sourdough, don't use the onion. After those modifications, you'll have a great loaf! You're getting tips direct from a SF born and raised bread lover.. Enjoy! :)

Jan 24, 2005

Unfortunatly, my established starter was dumped down the drain by a well meaning daughter-in-law so this was made with a newly established starter. It only had a mild "tang" but I would suspect that was because of my immature starter. The texture of the bread was awesome. If you spray water on your oven walls a few times in the first few minutes of baking,the steam will encourage a thicker and crustier crust. It also helps to put a shallow pan containing water on the bottom rack and leave it during baking. This makes lovely loaves and can't wait to try it when I have a good strong starter. Thanks for the recipe, Donna!

Feb 26, 2007

I used the "Sourdough Starter" by Esther Nelson, from this website. I replaced 1-1/4c of the bread flour with 1c of King Arthur Whole Wheat White Flour (for healthier bread), and 1/4c of vital wheat gluten (to help with rising). I used butter rather than margarine. And rather than an egg/water wash, I brushed butter on the loaves after they were done baking, and omitted the onion topping this time. I formed this into two baguettes. They had a distinct sourdough flavor, and a great texture with a good crusty crust and soft inside! Thanks so much, Donna!

Feb 10, 2010

As usual, I'll share my KitchenAid Mixer version. My starter is 20 years old and came from King Arthur Flour. Several times it has been put to sleep by dehydrating and reawakened. The current one is only 4 weeks old. The day before I bakes I took 3/4 cup of starter from the fridge and added 3/4 cup warm water and 1 cup AP flour. Set it 6 feet from my wood stove and let it awake overnight. I now had a bubbly 2 cups of starter. Followed the directions to end of sentence in line one (except reserved the salt and used only 1 tbs sugar) and then into the mixer bowl with the dough hook. Added 1 cup flour at a time until I hit 4 cups of flour and then slow speed for 6 minutes. Turned the dough out onto my lightly floured bread board and l inverted the bowl over the top for 20 minutes. This 1st rest period is called the autolyse. Remove the bowl, flatten out the dough with your hands, and sprinkle about 1/2 the salt over it. Begin kneading the salt into the dough. After a few turns, sprinkle on the rest of the salt and continue to knead for 2 to 4 minutes, until the salt is completely incorporated and the dough is soft and smooth. When done with step 3...try this variation. Instead of chopped onion I VERY thinly slice an onion and sautee w/ butter and 1 tbs fresh thyme for 8 minutes. Even though it may look like lots use it all sprinkled over the top of the bread, then bake as timed. The tips may blacken but the taste is awesome. I do not do an egg wash with the thyme/onion mixture.

Jul 19, 2003

Excellent sourdough bread. Makes wonderful croutons. Used the "Sourdough Starter II" recipe for starter.

Apr 14, 2003

This is by far the best sourdough bread I've made. I place sesame seeds on top instead of chopped onion, it's great!

Apr 14, 2003

This didn't taste like sour dough bread but it DID taste like good white bread. I blame my starter for this b/c it was only 3 days old. I will try it again in a few weeks and report back.


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  • Calories
  • 145 kcal
  • 7%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 26.4 g
  • 9%
  • Cholesterol
  • 11 mg
  • 4%
  • Fat
  • 2 g
  • 3%
  • Fiber
  • 1.1 g
  • 4%
  • Protein
  • 5.1 g
  • 10%
  • Sodium
  • 267 mg
  • 11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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