Made with all purpose flour and just a touch of butter, learn how to make soft, tender sourdough sandwich bread with bubbly, active sourdough starter. So easy! Recipe adapted from my book: Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.
Out of the 4 classic sourdough bread recipes I bake each week (sourdough bread, sourdough focaccia and sourdough pancakes), sandwich bread is the most requested by far. Why? It’s soft. Buttery. It makes the whole kitchen smell like magic. And best part about making it yourself? It’s 100% natural.
There are no chemicals or nasty preservatives in homemade sourdough sandwich bread. Just hints of creamy butter with mild, tangy sourdough flavor in every bite. In this post, I’ll show you how make easy sourdough sandwich bread with step-by-step instructions and video. You’ll also find a sourdough cinnamon-raisin and whole wheat variation, plus more pan loaf recipes in my book: Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. You’ll never go back to store-bought again!
Sourdough Sandwich Bread: Ingredients & Equipment You Will Need:
- All purpose flour
- Unsalted butter
- Sea salt
- Sourdough starter
- Warm water
- Stand Mixer
- Loaf Pan
- No stand mixer? No problem! After mixing and resting the dough, knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes, or until smooth, soft and elastic. Do not worry about under/over kneading. This is very difficult to do by hand. Relax into the process and focus on the texture, not the time.
- Think about pan size. For a lofty-high rise, use an 8.5×4 inch loaf pan instead of the traditional 9×5 inch loaf pan. The smaller pan size will give the dough a boost. However, both sizes will work.
- Why Sugar? Enriched doughs, like this one, usually contain sugar (and butter, sometimes eggs). It adds just a hint of sweetness. This bread is not sweet. Omit if you want.
- Make it vegan. Replace the unsalted butter with your favorite plant-based, dairy free butter for a similar taste. Just watch the salt content though; some plant-based brands are very salty!
- Temperature controls time. The warmer it is, the faster the dough will rise. I’ve included helpful tips to boost the process. Full details in the recipe at the end of this post.
how To Make Sourdough Sandwich Bread
Mix the Dough
In a stand mixer, add the flour, butter, sugar and salt. Mix until the butter looks like crumbs.
Add the sourdough starter and water; mix again to combine. The dough will feel slightly sticky and elastic at this stage. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and rest for 30 minutes- the gluten needs to relax.
After the dough has rested…
Switch to the dough hook, and run the machine on medium low to knead the dough. This should take about 6-8 minutes or so. The dough should feel soft and supple, and not stick to your hands. On this particular day, my dough was a little bit stickier than usual so I added a dusting of flour to even it out.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rise overnight at room temperature (68 F) for 10-12 hrs. The dough is ready when it has doubled in size.
Shape the Dough
Remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently flatten the surface to release some of the air bubbles. Sandwich bread should not have any large holes (unless you like jelly in your lap).
Starting at the bottom, roll the dough into a log tucking the ends underneath. Transfer to the loaf pan. Watch the Video!
Now the dough needs to rise again.
This step is important because it builds back additional strength after the bulk rise. You’ll get a nice rise when it’s done correctly.
The dough is ready when the center rises to about 1-inch or more above the rim. It should look nice and puffy, and no longer dense. Be patient with this step- it takes time especially when the weather is cold. This is where the smaller 8.5×4 inch loaf pan comes in handy; the smaller size will speed of the rise.
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
TIP: For higher oven spring, preheat your oven to 500 F (instead of 375 F). Once the bread goes in, reduce the temperature to 375 F and bake as directed.
Bake the Dough
Place the dough on the center rack and bake for 45-50 minutes.
Once finished, let the loaf cool for at least an hour before your dive in. It’s worth the wait!
If you have a large family, or just eat a lot of bread, I highly suggest doubling this recipe. Bake (2x) loaves side by side and freeze whatever you don’t eat. This loaf can be frozen whole, covered tightly in plastic wrap or as individual slices.
Sourdough Sandwich bread Variations
- Whole Wheat: Replace 20% all purpose flour with whole wheat or light whole wheat flour. If the dough seems dry (whole grain flours absorb more liquid), add more water as needed to achieve a workable consistency. Do this 1 tsp. at a time.
- Bread Flour: Do an even swap, adding more water if the dough is dry. For example, King Arthur Bread flour is very “thirsty” so more liquid might be needed. If using Gold Medal bread flour, which is not as absorbent, additional adjustments might not be necessary.
- Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin: Click here for my step-by-step post!
More Sourdough Bread Recipes To Try!
- Sourdough Focaccia Bread
- Sourdough Bread: A Beginner’s Guide
- Best Sourdough Pizza Crust (No steel or stone!)
- Easy Homemade Sourdough Bagels
- Light Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
A simple and easy recipe for homemade sourdough sandwich bread. Made with all purpose flour and just a touch of butter. I like to make the dough at night so we can have fresh bread in the morning. This loaf freezes well (whole or sliced). I recommend this loaf pan.
For best results, please weigh your ingredients instead of using measuring cups.
Here’s why: weight and volume measurements are not equal, only approximate! This is especially important regarding the sourdough starter. If your starter is very bubbly, 1/4 cup might only weigh 30 g which is too little for this recipe (you need 50 g). The dough will take forever to rise! Same goes for the flour… 4 cups might end up weighing way over 500 g depending on how tight the flour was packed into the cup. You’ll end up with dry dough.
I used Whole Foods 365 Everyday all purpose flour for this recipe. King Arthur and Trader Joe’s ap flour will work as well. If using another brand with a lower protein content (i.e. Gold Medal, Pillsbury, Heckers) consider reducing the total water amount by 15 g.
- 500 g (4 cups) all purpose flour
- 60 g (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
- 12 g (1 tbsp.) sugar
- 9 g fine sea salt
- 50 g (1/4 cup) bubbly, active sourdough starter (100% hydration)**
- 270 g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) warm water
** If the weather is not warm enough, sometimes the second rise can take longer than expected. To speed up the rise, use an 8.5×4 inch loaf pan (instead of a 9×5 inch pan), increase the amount of starter and decrease the amount of water for best results. Please choose one of the following adjustments below, keeping the rest of the ingredient quantities the same:
- 100 g starter + 255 g water
- 150 g starter + 250 g water
Additionally, because temperature controls time you can also increase your surrounding temperature for the bulk or second rise, as needed. Place the dough in a proofing box set to 75-80 F. Or, preheat your home oven to 75-80 F and then shut it off immediately (use an oven thermometer to make sure it’s set to exactly 80 F and not higher!). Place the covered dough inside until it bulks up. Do no use this option overnight- it will be too warm.
Baking Schedule: this is an overnight dough which takes approximately 10-12 hrs to rise @ 68 F. Start the night before, in the evening, and plan to bake the following day. If it’s warmer than 68 F the dough will take less time to rise. Alternatively, start in the morning and bake in the afternoon or evening.
Mix the Dough
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, butter, sugar and salt. Mix on low speed until combined; the butter should look like crumbs.
Add the starter and warm water. Mix until the flour is fully absorbed (get in there with your hands to finish mixing). The dough will feel slightly sticky and elastic at this stage. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, replenish you starter with fresh flour and water.
After the dough has rested, switch to the dough hook and run the machine on medium-low (#3 on a KitchenAid) for 6-8 minutes. The dough will feel soft and supple and not stick to your hands. If it does, add a dusting of flour.
Note: If you do not have a stand mixer, the dough can be made by hand. After mixing and resting for 30 minutes, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes, or until smooth, soft and elastic. Do not worry about under/over kneading. Relax into the process and focus on the texture, not the time.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise overnight at room temperature (68 F) until double in size, about 10-12 hrs. Please refer to the Baking Schedule above for additional rise time options.
Shape the Dough
In the morning, coat an 8.5×4 inch loaf pan with butter.
Remove the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently flatten the surface to release any large air bubbles.
Roll the dough into a log tucking the ends underneath. Rest for 5-10 minutes. With floured hands, gently cup the dough and pull it toward you to tighten its shape. Using a bench knife, place the dough into the loaf pan seam side down.
Cover the dough with lightly oiled or buttered plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature until it has risen to about 1-inch above the rim of the pan (check the height by looking at the domed center portion of the dough). You are not looking for it to double in size. For timing, this can take anywhere from 1 1/2-2 hours (or more!) depending on temperature and the amount of sourdough starter used. Remember, the warmer it is, the faster the dough will rise. Refer to the “helpful tips” at the top of this post.
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Note: For higher oven spring, preheat to 500 F instead. Reduce to 375 F once the dough goes into the oven and bake as directed.
Bake the Dough
Bake the dough on the center rack for about 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
This sandwich loaf will stay fresh for up to 3 days, stored in a plastic bag at room temperature.
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