So You Want Your Sourdough…well…SOUR.

Salt Fermented Sourdough

I am at it again. I wanted to go after the crust and the sour of the San Francisco Sourdough. I have come up with a new technique that I have been experimenting with for a while. 

However, I want to take a moment to thank Peter Reinhart for giving me assistance with the publishing aspect, just like he promised. A real pro and gentleman he is. Thankyou Peter!

I also want to thank Randy Longacre who has so tirelessly read my manuscript as a newbie baker and professional writer. He has provided invaluable insight into problems and questions a newbie baker might have and has given me great advice.Thankyou Randy!

I have two other proof readers who are non- bakers, they also taste test my bread, their names are Ann Davidson and Carol Stibbie. For their encouragement and efforts, I want to offer thanks. Thank you Ann and Carol! 

When testing is done on the recipes, I will list the testers and give them public thanks  as well.

Now onto  SOURdough. Why do we consider San Francisco Sourdough the Holy Grail of Sourdough Baking?

Although you can bake a sourdough every bit as tasty in your own oven at home, if you don’t wish to bake at home, you cannot find a terrific sourdough very easily.  

San Francisco has set the standard in sourdough baking with their century plus, of great sourdough breads. Boudin states that the process for their bread takes as long as 72 hours! I do not know their technique or formula for their bread, however I know that in most sourdough baking, the dough would be a gooey mess by that time.


So I sat down to think about that. I came up with a process I call “Salt Controlled Fermentation”. I don’t know if it is what Boudin does, but it has worked for me. I use salt to limit the effects of the Protease enzyme.  I will cover this process in my upcoming book, but I wanted to show you what kinds of results I am having with it at this time as I am fine tuning the test results.  I use a salted motherdough and ferment the first “seed” culture for many days.


Once you have the seed culture, you will only have the shorter time of using some of the reserved older dough to start a new batch (like a Pate Fermente).  The cold salt fermented motherdough is incorporated into a batch of dough and let ferment for several days. Then when the time is right, the dough is warmed up and baked. Here is what has come out of my oven so far:

My first experimental loaf was overfermented, the color was lacking and the loaf didn’t get a good oven spring:






Also, I was not getting a consistant sour… no sour, a little sour, some sour….is there any sour? So I sat down and thought about it again and started to experiment with the only other ingredient I noticed in the ingredient list on the side of the San Francisco Bread… malt. When you see barley malt or barley malt flour added to the flour, what is being added is Diastatic Malt. Diastatic Malt has the enzyme Amylase. Amylase breaks down starch and helps convert starch to sugar with by products of alcohol, acids and Co2. So I started adding the Diastatic Malt to my dough.


Success! A nice deep sour tang was produced consistantly. So here are some of the results of my Salt Controlled Fermentation with Diastatic Malt added:

Notice the dark,deep color with red overtones in the crust:

The interesting thing about the sour is that it is at it’s fullest sour flavor the next day after baking. The sour seems to develop within hours of baking and just continually improves until the next morning. This salt fermented, malted bread obtains a deep, very tasty sour flavor.


This experimentation has been so much fun! I even bought a ph meter to be able to see what was going on during the different stages of dough development. So give me some ideas….what should I experiment with next? What are you interested in?


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

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