Friday, October 8, 2010

San Francisco and Sour Dough Bread

After cruising in Alaska for a couple of days seeing Hubbart Glacier, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka we made our way south and have arrived in San Francisco after two rough days at sea. Yes the weather was not great and we had even snow in Alaska, but now here in San Francisco we have beautiful sunshine and it is lovely warm.

We are here for two days, but of course my time is very limited to go out and explore much, on top of that I need to get new plates for our Tapas in the evening, so all I actually could do is to go out to Pier 39 and indulge in a wonderful New England Chowder served in a San Francisco Sour Dough Bread.

Of course there are plenty of sights in town already, never mind the proximity to the Californian Wine Lands, something one must explore while here on the West coast. But like I said, all I did was going out to Pier 39, a lovely place full of restaurants and shops, the Aquarium is there and some museums are close by.

Being hungry I went on in my search of local cuisine and found something really interesting close by, a shop selling a sumptuous Clam Chowder served in traditional San Francisco Sourdough Bread. Wow, was that nice, the soup just had the right amount of spice and the bread was soaked with the soup, I had every bit to the last crumb. After that I had a leisurely walk through Pier 39, relaxed a bit in the sun, before going back to the ship. So of course being here in San Francisco I have a lovely recipe for the Sour Dough Bread. Try it out, it is the artisanal way of doing the bread, you will enjoy every bite
San Francisco Sourdough
Makes 1 loaf


For the starter:
3 tsp dried yeast
450ml (¾pint) water
375g (13oz) strong white flour, sifted

For the dough:
175g (6oz) strong white flour
75g (2½oz) wholemeal flour
2 tsp salt
75g (2½oz) “old” dough (see below)


1. To make the starter Sprinkle the yeast into the water in a large jar. Leave for 5 minutes; stir to dissolve.
2. Stir the flour into the jar of yeasted water using a wooden spoon. Cover with a tea towel and leave to ferment at room temperature for at least 3 days and at most 5 days before refrigeration. Stir the mixture twice a day; it will be bubbly and and pleasantly sour-smelling.
3. To make the dough Mix the flours and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Spoon 500ml (16floz) of the starter into a liquid measuring jug. Replenish the remaining starter for the next time you make bread. Tear the “old” dough into tiny pieces then add the starter and the “old” dough pieces to the flour well.
4. Mix in the flour to form a firm but moist dough. Add more water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the dough it too dry or crumbly.
5. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
6. Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Knock back, then leave to rest for 10 minutes.
7. Pinch off a 75g (2½oz) piece of the dough for your next bread making. Wrap the piece of dough loosely in greaseproof paper and foil and refrigerate or freeze the dough until the next time you make bread.
8. Shape the remaining dough into a round loaf. Place on a floured baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and prove until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
9. Cut three parallel slashes, about 5mm (¼in) deep, across the top of the loaf, then three more slashes in the opposite direction to make a criss-cross pattern. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour until golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Rising: 2 hours
Proving: 1½ hours
Oven temp: 220C / 425F / Gas 7
Baking: 1 hour

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