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Jan 6, 2013 08:05 PM

Sourdough Bread

Posted this in mid-Atlantic because our best so far has been in Rehoboth, but realized there's more activity on this board and we'd prefer to find a Chester County source . . .

We've been searching for years for anything that approximates San Francisco sourdough bread in our area (southern Chester County, PA).

For a while we found loaves that actually had the sourdough tang -- oddly enough, at the Safeway in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. (Note that no other Safeway we tried in N. Wilmington, West Chester, Dover, etc., had the same dough, so the taste was completely different. And nowhere near as good.)

But now the Rehoboth Safeway has changed sources, apparently, and their "sourdough" is just awful.

A friend who grew up in SF, and now lives in N. Wilmington, says there's something about the air out there, and we'll never find anything remotely like good sourdough here. Frankly, we'll settle for "remotely" at this point. Anyone know of a local source of decent sourdough?

Failing that, anyone have a favorite place to order sourdough from the West Coast, with the ultimate cost less than about $9 a loaf? We want it for toast and sandwiches.

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  1. I don't know much about SF sourdough, always seemed peculiarly overrated to e, but in the city Metropolitan and Four Worlds make bread with great sour tang to me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: barryg

      Years ago while driving around the country I was walking around SF in the cool misty morning and happened to pass a Boudin bakery shop. I got a good cup of coffee and a sourdough roll right out of the oven. I got it simply buttered and sat on a bench for one of the most memorable breakfasts I ever had.

      Possibly affiliated with the gold rushes (might have been Burt Wolf or Alton Brown talked about once?), tangy sourdough is also common in Alaska and the Yukon and I looked forward to it every morning when I visited up there.

    2. Since i make my own, I can't help with the "perfect" source..........but Chadds Ford/Glen Mills has Whole Foods, Fresh Market and to Hills seafood. Maybe one of them has something

      1 Reply
      1. re: FriedClamFanatic

        I cannot speak for the Chadds Ford Whole Foods, but the one in North Wales makes a decent sourdough. Definite tang. Worth considering.

      2. Thanks, all.
        "In the city" is not an option, but thanks anyway. I bought a loaf at Whole Foods the first week they opened, but it was seriously not-good sourdough. Same with Wegman's in Downingtown. But things change so maybe I should try again.

        We tried Fresh Market in the early days, will have to try again. I think I've asked at Pannini, but can't remember for sure so will re-visit.

        FriedClamFanatic -- Though the last thing I need on my counter is a bread machine, I may have to resort to that. Where did you get your starter? And you have a recipe you're happy with?


        4 Replies
        1. re: Red Oakley

          Both Metropolitan and Four Worlds are available through Harvest Local, if they deliver to your area.

          1. re: barryg

            we live in the wrong zipcode

          2. re: Red Oakley

            I made my starter about 10-12 years ago...........flour(bread), water, and a lil yeast to get it going. Feed/use it once a month, adding more flour and water as i go. It is NOT perfect.......but it's good

            1. re: Red Oakley

              I'm with FriedClamFanatic -- make my own, and it's really the best I can get around here! I haven't tried Metropolitan or Four Worlds per barryg - will have to check those out. But the only purchased loaf I've liked locally, so far, was found at Kimberton Whole Foods in Downingtown, but it has been at least 6 months since I got it there - have no idea if they still carry. It was naturally leavened (for me, critical to flavor) and the one and only loaf I tried had a respectable tang, though being bagged you lose the crust quality. It was from Sweetwater Bakery:

              I just happened upon a Wilmington based bakery online yesterday, Black Lab Breads, and thus haven't tried it yet, but I'm curious if anyone has insights on it:

              All that said, Red Oakley, no bulky bread machine is necessary to make your own! I keep it incredibly simple with a no knead version and it bakes up nice and crusty in a dutch oven (I use a Lodge combo cooker). My starter originated from a more experienced baker I met while living on the West Coast. Most sourdough bakers don't mind sharing! And the baking becomes an easy routine once you commit.

              I've gleaned info from various sources along the way and adapted, but the basic recipe/technique I use is this (the length makes it look more complex than it is!):

              By the way, I think you also received direction to Big Sky on your alternate post. I've tried their sourdough, and I suspect you won't be happy with it either.

              Good luck! Would be happy to share more details with you if you decide to try your own.

            2. I just bought a loaf of "SF Sourdough" from Whole Foods. It's a nice loaf of bread, crusty, chewy. But, it lacks that sourdough tang you're looking for.

              1. I realize it's been more than a month since you asked, but if you're still searching you might want to check Big Sky in Branmar Plaza in Wilmington. During the nice weather months (remember those?) they're at the Kennett Square Farmers Market and at the West Chester Growers' Market.

                3 Replies
                  1. re: CindyJ

                    CindyJ --
                    A month, a year, hey . . . what's 12 months among ChowHound neighbors.?

                    In the interim I've found starter, made my own, bought a bread machine. Still searching for the loaf of our memories.

                    This is not the first Big Sky recommendation we've had. I really need to get down there or make it a point to get to one of the local weekly markets.

                    Thanks for the reminder. Of Big Sky but also of "nice weather months."

                    1. re: Red Oakley

                      My fave bread in area these days is the loaf at High Street connected to Fork in Philadelphia. The baker is from Sullivan Street in Manhattan and for me it rocks. May not be sour enough for you but it's crust will take a cap out of your teeth.
                      It is similar to the Filone in NY, but smaller and same price @9