Boudin Bakery screams San Francisco as much as Fisherman’s Wharf and cable cars do, at least to me. Known the world over for their amazing artisan baked sourdough bread baked fresh daily, Boudin has become a San Francisco institution. For over 150 years, Boudin has been baking sourdough bread the old-fashioned way with unbleached flour, water, salt, and a portion of mother dough. Fresh out of the oven and into your living room, these wonders of bread magic are perection in dough. Today, Boudin has become San Francisco’s oldest continuously operating company.
Established in 1849 shortly after the California “Gold Rush”, Boudin became hugely popular with gold prospectors and city-dwellers who would line up outside the bakery every morning for the fresh baked sourdough bread. In 1941, the Boudin family faced hard economic times as they continued their family tradition of producing quality sourdough bread using the old fashioned methods taught to them through the generations of leavening the bread with wild yeast starter, better known as mother dough, rather than changing to new automated methods being deployed by other bakeries. With the industry changing and bankruptcy looming for the family, Boudin’s Master Baker stepped in, with the family’s blessing, and bought the bakery. Today, the same methods used over 150 years ago are still found in the kitchens at Boudin Bakery, where the company’s mission of bringing its guests fresh, quality food at fair, affordable prices still stands.
You can’t visit San Francisco without stopping at Boudin Bakery, and what better location than their 26,000 square food demonstration bakery located right at the world-famous Fisherman’s Wharf. On a recent trip to San Francisco during the holiday season, I made it a point that I wanted to stop at Boudin Bakery to see what was cooking at the bakery and to buy some sourdough bread to bring home with me.
Not unexpectedly, Boudin Bakery was packed to the seams with locals and tourists alike who flock to this San Francisco institution. Two years ago, on another trip to San Francisco, I experienced Boudin Bakery for the first time. Of course, I had known that sourdough bread was a San Francisco specialty, but I had assumed that all sourdough bread was the same. It wasn’t until I saw the bakers at Boudin’s demonstration bakery and tasted the amazing sourdough that they created that I understood how fantastic Boudin’s bread really is. At the time, I had bought some sourdough bread home with me so that I could share with my husband. Even though he didn’t end up trying any of it until a few days later, my husband agreed, at the time, that their bread was fantastic.
On this recent trip to San Francisco, when I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to again bring home some of their bread, he wasn’t really feeling it. Apparently, he had forgotten just how good their bread was. So, he told me to go ahead and get whatever I wanted, but he wasn’t intersested. The place was an absolute zoo, so even trying to move around inside the bakery was virtually impossible. Fortunately for me, the cafe and the souvenir shop appeared to be a lot more popular than the bread counter, which is what I was there for. Within a few minutes, I made it to the front of the line and made my selection for sourdough bread shaped like a snowman to celebrate the holidays as well as a loaf of their asiago cheese round. Even then, I could tell my husband was skeptical and had figured I had purchased way too much bread than I would know what to do with. Little did he realize…
Later that night, back in our hotel room, my husband decided that he wanted to give some of the asiago round loaf that I had purchased a try. One bite and he was blown away by how good the sourdough bread at Boudin was. He told me that he’d never had sourdough bread tasted as good before, and had he known it was this good, he would have told me to buy a lot more to bring home. We were both blown away by how good the sourdough was. It was better than even I had remembered. There is such a difference when you taste fresh sourdough bread baked that day. Instead of being crusty and hard as a rock, this loaf of asiago sourdough was slighly crusty on the outside and nice and moist and yeasty on the inside. It was bread perfection. And that was just the sourdough part of the bread. The asiago loaf had asiago cheese baked on the top of the loaf. Essentially, the loaf was shaped like a flower with 6 round petals and one round center. The asiago cheese covered the entire center and parts of each leaf. We started off by each eating one leaf. The parts of the bread that were baked with the cheese melted on top were absolutely to-die-for. The combination of yeasty sourdough mixed with salty, pungent asiago was absolute perfection. After each having one leaf, we both decided to take another leaf, and then finally we each had our third leaf, leaving nothing but the asiago covered round center of the loaf. Since this round center was covered in cheese, we both agreed it would only be fair to split it in half so we would each be able to enjoy it. This started with my husband wanting to take a small sample of bread, to the two of us devouring a whole asiago loaf. It was just that good. My husband kept raving on and on about how amazing the sourdough bread was. If only we were going back to the bakery the next day, I would have bought more to bring home. Oh well, lesson learned.
With the snowman shaped sourdough loaf that I had purchased, a few days later, I cut it up into slices, toasted it in the oven, drizzled on some olive oil and cut garlic cloves and topped it with bruschetta. I treated the sourdough like it was a crostini. And the results were fantastic. The sourdough bread was fantastic and really withstood the strong flavors of the bruschetta. This bread is so versatile.
If you ever find yourself in San Francisco, make sure to stop by one of the Boudin Bakery locations and pick up some sourdough bread to bring home with you. My husband says its the best sourdough bread he’s ever had, and when it comes fresh out of the oven like that, I’d be hard pressed to disagree.