Salt Fermented… San Francisco Sourdough

In my upcoming book, the feature recipe is the Salt Fermented Sourdough. I love working with this sourdough. I decided to experiment using the Power Flour from Pendleton Mills that I have been posting about. Power Flour is the flour of choice for this San Francisco style bread. I started out by…

mixing up a batch of the dough and then I divided into half. One half I used as a regular motherdough and I allowed it to ferment for a while at room temperature before putting it into the refrigerator. The other half I added the salt to and used it to make my seed dough for the Salt Fermented Sourdough.


Salt has an interesting effect on the dough. It suppresses the enzyme activity so that the actual fermentation is slowed way down. It inhibits the Protease enzyme so that it isn’t able to break down the gluten as quickly. When you autolyse a dough, you leave the salt out for a period of time so that the Protease can go to work on the gluten and break it down enough to make the dough more exstensible.


However, there are other ways of doing this in a slower manner. Dough which is made up and then refrigerated to slow down fermentation in a cold state, is often called motherdough. It can help you make some terrific bread.


The first half of the batch that I made up for the experiment, I will call motherdough, the second half of the experimental dough I will call salt dough.


Here are the two doughs after being fermented in the refrigerator for three days:

Motherdough after three days in the refrigerator:

The motherdough is VERY sticky like a glue.

Here is the salt dough after three days in the refrigerator:

The dough is nice and tight, with no sign of being broken down.

Here are both doughs:

I think you can guess which one is which!

At this point(three days), I made up a loaf of bread using part of the motherdough:

The bread turned out very nice, with a terrific flavor and thin crispy crust. The flavor was mild but complex and delicious.

I then returned the remaining motherdough to the refrigerator and waited until day six to mix up a two loaf batch of bread using the salt dough. This dough was divided in half and I bake one of the loaves of bread on day seven:


This bread was also very good, but it was mild flavored with a fine crumb, the crust was thin and chewy.

I took out the motherdough and the salt dough on day seven to compare them:

I tasted some of the motherdough on my tongue, it was bitter and didn’t taste good.

Here is the salt dough on day seven:

This dough had a tangy, zingy taste.

I shaped another loaf from the salt dough and refrigerated it until day eight when I baked it after three hours proof (even in warm weather, the dough slows way down when it gets acidic).


I used some polenta corn flour on the banneton to add some texture to the crust:



Another closeup:


The crust is crisp and chewy, it has a lot of depth with color and blisters.


Here is a picture of the crumb:


The interior had a translucent sheen and it had a creamy custardy feel to the mouth. It was featherlight and looked beautiful. It had a great tangy sour taste.


I had to put the rest of the seed dough away for the next batch. After you spend eight days producing your first loaf (day seven was only an experiment) then you can save the seed dough and every three days make up a new batch of bread.


The salt dough bread really needs the Power flour or high gluten flour to withstand the very long ferment. It is also better to have a temperature controlled proofing box because the dough really needs to be held at between 46-50F degrees to obtain the terrific sour tang. You can bake it on day nine and ten even and it will continue to increase in acidity, however the proofing gets longer.


Here was the end result of the motherdough and the salt dough:


The motherdough:


The salt dough:


Great baking everyone!


Teresa L Greenway - Sourdough bread baker, author, teacher, entrepreneur. Join my baking classes at:

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