A soft sourdough sandwich bread with a tender texture and amazing flavor without using any store-bought yeast, just the wonderful power of wild leavening. This sourdough sandwich bread recipe is made with flour, water, salt, butter, and active sourdough starter and is so good you should double it for two loaves.
Sourdough Bread Making Tips
Sourdough bread-making is intimidating if you're used to relying on store-bought yeast. We'll have you baking sourdough bread like a boss in no time with these tips.
- Use an active sourdough starter. A sourdough starter is in its active state when it's rising. After being fed, the sourdough starter will rise and double in size before it peaks and begins to fall again. This active state can be anywhere from 2 to 6 hours after feeding your starter. The rising process occurs when the yeast you've captured in your sourdough starter feeds. This creates carbon dioxide, little bubbles are trapped in the dough, creating the rise.
- Mix dough at the right time. I wait until my sourdough starter has almost doubled, but not quite, to mix up my bread recipe.
- Mature sourdough starter. If you're using a brand new starter it can be so hard to wait for it to become mature enough to bake bread. However, if your starter is only a few weeks old, it's not strong enough for bread baking yet and you will be disappointed by a loaf that is dense and doesn't rise well. Most sourdough starters are strong enough to bake bread at 4 to 6 weeks old (I know, patience is not my virtue, but it's so worth the wait).
- Rising time patience. Unlike store-bought yeast, dough rise time with sourdough is much longer. How long should I leave bread dough to rise? If your starter is on the sluggish or immature side, it can take 8 hours before the loaves are doubled. If your starter is active and mature, loaves double in 4 to 5 hours. Again, the room temperature greatly affects how fast your dough rises, when my dough is 74 degrees F or warmer it rises much faster.
Don't have a sourdough starter or your starter isn't going so well? Here are my 5 Tips On How to Get Started with Sourdough
What are the benefits of sourdough bread?
The first benefit is you don't need any store-bought yeast, one less thing to purchase from the store is always a plus!
Sourdough is a fermented cultured food, which means the good bacteria, pre-biotic, and probiotics help to break down the phytic acid making the nutrients in the flour easier to absorb, therefore increasing the folate and antioxidant levels.
The yeast and bacteria feed on the starches and/or carbohydrates in the flour, making a fully cultured (allowing the flour to soak with the starter for at least 8 hours) sourdough bread lower on the Glycemic Index than regular bread.
Many gluten-sensitive individuals find that a fully cultured sourdough bread allows them to enjoy bread again without issues. There is still gluten-present, but the culture seems to degrade the gluten. This study shows IgE-binding proteins contained in the sourdough breads disappeared after in vitro digestion with pepsin, trypsin and pancreatin.
How to Get Light and Fluffy Bread
We all want a light and tender texture on our sourdough sandwich bread. It can be frustrating if your bread turns out dense and hard (I've had some of those brick-like loaves before but no more my friend!) but once you identify the culprits below, you'll be on your way!
- Proper kneading time. Kneading helps to develop the gluten strands, which provide the structure so your dough can expand (aka light and fluffy). For bread and all-purpose flour, you need to knead your dough for 8 minutes and then do a windowpane test.
- Pass the windowpane test. Take a piece of dough the size of a golf ball and using both thumbs and index fingers, stretch it into a rectangle (see the sourdough sandwich bread video for the visual steps). The dough should stretch thin enough for light to pass through before tearing or breaking (hence the name windowpane). If it breaks or tears before this state, knead for another 2 minutes and check again.
- Bake at the correct time. Sourdough sandwich bread baked without sufficient rise time will be dense. If you let it overproof (rise too long) the loaf will collapse in the oven. This is something I go over in-depth inside my Handmade Bread & Baking course. For this recipe, you want the bread to be about 1/2 inch higher than the edge of your 9×5 loaf pan.
- Create tension. This is an extremely common failure (and it holds true for any bread recipe, not just this sourdough sandwich bread). You need to create tension on the top of the loaf so it can hold its shape as it rises. This is done by stretching the top of the loaf taut, both for round artisan loaves like my Easy No Knead Bread Artisan Recipe in 5 Minutes a Day or a sandwich bread.
- Bake at the correct temperature. Make sure your oven is calibrated and at correct temperature. Different recipes will have different baking temps based on the ingredients used and the desired outside crust texture. If the oven temp is too low, you won't get oven spring (when the loaf springs up after entering the hot oven) and if it's too hot, you can get a hard crispy outer crust (not desirable for a sandwich loaf).
Sourdough Bread Troubleshooting
If your sourdough bread isn't turning out, it usually has to go back to the strength and activity in your sourdough starter. Even a mature starter can be sluggish if it hasn't been properly cared for. Inside my free homemade sourdough starter series, I cover why feeding a small amount twice a day is crucial to getting your starter into peak shape, especially for bread baking.
Older starters that have been left in the fridge for a long period of time won't rise bread well. Sourdough starters that aren't being fed regularly become weak. Young sourdough starters that are less than 4 weeks of age simply aren't strong enough for bread baking yet. I've had starters that weren't strong enough until 6 weeks of age.
Two days before baking bread, make sure your sourdough starter is at room temperature and you're feeding it twice a day to get it nice and bubbly.
Can I bake bread immediately after making dough?
No, you have to let it rise or you'll have a bread loaf as hard as a rock.
What Flour is Best for Sourdough Sandwich Bread?
You want a flour with a strong gluten content for bread baking (no pastry flours). This recipe works well with ap flour, bread flour, and whole wheat flour. For a white bread, use all purpose flour or bread flour. I like to use fresh ground hard white wheat (if using whole wheat or fresh ground flour you'll need to increase the water, see recipe notes) so we have the nutritional benefits of fresh ground flour and the sourdough culture.
Many people ask me what is the best flour for making sourdough?
Any organic unbleached flour is better than conventional, but I've made sourdough starters with rice flour, all-purpose, fresh ground Einkorn, and fresh ground hard white wheat. They all worked equally as well.
The key is how often you're feeding it, amounts, and temperature. I cover all of this in detail inside my free homemade sourdough starter series here
How to make a bread loaf without a covered bread pan?
Simple, make this sourdough sandwich bread recipe because all you need is a standard loaf pan. No Dutch ovens required.
Sourdough Bread Making Timeline
9 pm. The night before you want to bake bread, feed your starter so you have 1/2 cup total volume.
7 or 8 am. In the morning, feed the starter to equal 1 cup of starter. Allow starter to rise until almost doubled (usually 2 to 3 hours).
11 am Combine all ingredients and knead the sourdough sandwich dough until it passes the windowpane test. I use the dough hook with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and mix for 8 minutes before testing. Grease your loaf pans (these cast iron loaf pans are the ONLY loaf pans I use).
11:10 am Form loaf, creating tension on the top of the loaf, and place in bread pans. Cover so the dough doesn't dry out with either plastic or a damp tea towel. Place in a warm area to rise until dough is 1/2 inch above the lip of the loaf pan.
4 pm Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slather the top of the sandwich loaf with melted butter. Bake for 30 minutes.
4:30 pm Remove bread from oven and loaf pan to a cooling wrack. Immediately rub with butter and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
How to make bread really soft
Don't skip the butter step before baking the loaf and immediately after removing it from the oven. If you're dairy-free, you can use olive oil or melted coconut oil.
What do you eat with sourdough bread?
My favorite thing to eat with this sourdough bread is more butter and this Strawberry Jam Recipe without Pectin and Low Sugar. Seriously, it's the best of all the worlds on your taste buds.
Load it up with your favorite sandwich toppings, from peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese (smoked gouda is a MUST), to a turkey sandwich with these Fermented Pickle Recipe Old-fashioned Saltwater Brine Pickles.
My son loves a slice with butter and garlic salt underneath a low broil for a quick sourdough garlic bread.
More Easy Homemade Bread Recipes
Sourdough Sandwich Bread Recipe
Best Beginner Sourdough Sandwich Bread No Yeast
- 175 grams water 3/4 cup
- 200 grams active starter 1 cup
- 7 grams sugar 1.5 teaspoons
- 7 gram salt 1.5 teaspoons
- 15 grams melted salted butter 1 Tablespoon
- 400 grams all-purpose flour 2.75 cups
- Place water in a large mixing bowl and add in starter with melted butter, stir to combine. Add in remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Dough should clean the sides of the bowl.
- Knead for 8 minutes and check for window pane test. Knead for 2 more minutes if not at window pane and check again. Dough shouldn’t stick to your fingers.
- Lightly flour surface and roll out dough into a rectangle. Roll up into a loaf, tucking edges under to create tension on top. Place in parchment lined or greased loaf pan.
- Cover so it doesn’t develop a skin or dry out and allow to rise until doubled and up even with edges of loaf pan. Right before baking, brush top with melted butter.
- Bake in preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 to 32 minutes.
- Remove from loaf pan onto cooling rack, slather with more butter, and allow to cool for at least 15 to 20 minutes (longer if possible) before slicing.
- to make this with fresh ground or whole wheat flour, increase liquid to 250 grams of water (1 and 1/4 cups). Dough will feel slightly sticky but after resting for 10 minutes, it will soak up the water.
- the best way to store homemade bread is to let it cool fully and then store in a plastic bag or a cotton bread bag for 3 to 4 days.