Indulge in the delectable flavors of homemade sourdough sandwich bread with this tried and tested recipe. With its soft, tender crumb and delightful crust, this sourdough sandwich bread is perfect for creating mouthwatering sandwiches or enjoying toasted slices. Made with simple ingredients, this versatile recipe adds a homemade touch to your everyday meals.
About this recipe
When we think of sourdough bread, we often imagine an artisan loaf with a thick, crunchy crust and open crumbs. However, this sourdough sandwich bread takes a different path. It boasts a soft crust, a light and tender interior, and an abundance of flavor. To achieve this, I incorporate milk, butter, and a touch of sugar into my dough, resulting in super soft, slightly sweet, and incredibly delicious bread.
While I adore crusty sourdough bread, there are times when having sandwich bread is extremely convenient. Whether it's for packing lunches or toasting slices for breakfast, this bread fits the bill perfectly. A white bread that is made with naturally occurring yeast, long-fermented, and has a soft, tender texture perfect for sandwiches - best of both worlds, I’d say. This is my go-to bread, and I cannot do without this on most days.
The crumb of this soft sourdough sandwich loaf is tight yet soft, showcasing excellent fermentation. The crust, on the other hand, is soft and golden. Good fermentation, rich dough, the correct amount of bulk fermentation, and good second proofing are the steps needed to get a great loaf of sourdough sandwich bread. Follow this fail-proof recipe to get the perfect loaf that is healthier and tastier than regular sandwich bread.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Soft and tender texture: The addition of milk and butter in the recipe creates bread with a soft and tender crumb, making it perfect for sandwiches. The resulting texture is delightful to bite into and adds to the overall enjoyment of the bread.
- Flavorful and slightly sweet: The use of a sourdough starter and the extended fermentation process contribute to a flavorful bread with a subtle tanginess. The inclusion of a small amount of sugar adds a hint of sweetness, enhancing the taste without overpowering it.
- Versatility: This sourdough sandwich bread is versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes. It works wonderfully for sandwiches, making it easy to pack for lunches or enjoy as a quick meal.
This recipe makes two loaves of sourdough sandwich bread. You may choose to divide it in half if you would like to make a single loaf of bread.
Active sourdough starter: This is the key ingredient to making sourdough sandwich bread. Make sure the sourdough starter is active and bubbly.
Flour: Make them with all-purpose flour. Bread flour may also be used, but low-protein flour works best here. Bread flour may make these loaves a bit chewier than what you would get when plain flour is used.
Milk: For the best-tasting bread, use whole milk. This will make the sandwich bread soft and fluffy. Light milk works well, too, for this recipe. I have not tried them with non-dairy milk.
Butter: Butter not only adds an incredible flavor and richness to the bread, but it also makes the soft.
Sugar: Sugar is food for the wild yeast in your starter.
Salt: Salt is a key ingredient in making these loaves tasty. Don't skip it!
Step 1: Combine milk and butter in a saucepan and warm it up. The milk should be just lukewarm, around 90-100 F, which is sufficient to melt the butter. Don’t overheat the milk (image 1).
Step 2: Transfer the milk-butter mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the active starter, salt, and sugar. Mix well using a dough whisk or wooden spoon (images 2 and 3).
Step 3: Slowly add the flour and combine well, making sure there are no dry flour bits. Knead it gently for 4-5 minutes. Add 1-2 tablespoons of flour if needed (images 4 and 5).
Step 4: Let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (step 6).
Step 5: Perform 3-4 sets of stretch and fold at an interval of 30 minutes. With wet hands, grab a portion of the dough and slowly stretch it, taking care not to break it, and fold it towards the center of the dough. Keep turning the bowl and repeat the process until all parts of the dough is covered. Carefully flip the dough and round it up. This completes one set of stretch and folds (images 7 and 8).
Step 6: Repeat this process 3-4 times at an interval of 30 minutes. The dough should develop strength and structure at the end of the stretch and fold cycle (images 9 and 10).
Step 7: Cover the dough with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let it sit for bulk rise until it is almost double and has bubbles on the top. This may take 3-4 hours, depending on the ambient temperature (images 11 and 12).
Step 8: Once the bulk fermentation is done, shape the dough. Line two 9-inch loaf pans with parchment paper or baking paper. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide the dough into two equal parts (image 13).
Step 9: Shape each part of the dough into a 9-inch rectangular shape taking care not to push the air out. Gently roll it to form a log and tuck the ends (images 14 and 15).
Step 10: Transfer the dough to the prepared loaf pan (image 16). Place it in the refrigerator overnight for cold fermentation. At this stage, you can choose to bake directly without placing the dough in the fridge. If you are planning to bake the sandwich bread on the same day, let them sit in a warm spot for a second proofing.
Step 11: Next morning, remove the shaped dough from the fridge and let it sit in a warm spot for 1-2 hours (until it comes to room temperature). Preheat the oven to 360 F (180 C) for 15 minutes. As an optional step, you can brush the rolls with egg wash using a pastry brush; however, I have skipped it. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden (images 17 and 18).
Step 12: Cool the soft sourdough sandwich loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to let them cool down slightly before serving.
Can I skip cold-proofing the sandwich bread dough?
While I highly recommend cold proofing for soft sourdough sandwich bread, you can skip this step if are running out of time. Cold proofing helps develop flavor and improves the texture of the bread, but if you are short on time or prefer not to refrigerate the dough, you can proceed with the regular proofing and baking process.
However, it is important that you do not skip the second proofing after the first rise. Place the shaped dough in a warm spot for 1-2 hours for the second rise before baking. Keep in mind that the flavor and texture might differ slightly from the traditional method, but you can still achieve tasty sourdough sandwich bread without the cold-proofing step.
Get the milk to the right temperature: Make sure the milk is just lukewarm - not cold and definitely not hot. If the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast in the starter.
Active and bubbly sourdough starter: Ensure that your sourdough starter is active and healthy before using it. A vigorous starter will contribute to better fermentation and a more pronounced tangy flavor. Feed your starter regularly, following my recommended sourdough starter feeding schedule, and make sure it is active and bubbly before incorporating it into the dough.
Bulk fermentation: Allow the dough to rise until it has visibly increased in volume and has a bubbly appearance. But keep an eye on the bulk fermentation time as it highly depends on the temperature of your kitchen. Once the dough is almost double and has bubbles, shape it for second proofing or put it in the fridge. As the amount of starter is high in this bread, remember that it may ferment more quickly when compared to regular sourdough.
Do not skip second proofing: Second proofing is important and cannot be skipped even if you choose to bake the sandwich bread on the same day. The best way to second-proof is to shape it and place it in the refrigerator overnight. If you prefer not to do it, let them rest in a warm spot for 1-2 hours.
Optional cold proofing: You can choose to bake the bread on the same day if you like. But I always prefer to keep the dough in the fridge overnight and bake the next day. If you choose to bake on the same day, activate your starter the previous night and start the dough early in the morning. That way, you will be able to do the second proofing in the afternoon and bake in the evening.
Adequate surface tension: When shaping the bread dough, aim to create proper surface tension by rolling them gently against the work surface. This tension helps the dough maintain its shape and rise evenly during baking.
Variations of sandwich sourdough bread
There are several variations and adaptations you can make to sourdough sandwich bread to suit your preferences or add unique flavors. Here are a few ideas:
Whole wheat or multigrain: Instead of using only white flour, you can incorporate whole wheat flour or a mixture of whole wheat and white flour to add nuttiness and a heartier texture to the bread. Keep in mind the bread may be slightly more dense and chewy.
Seeded sandwich bread: Add a variety of seeds to the dough when shaping it. This adds extra texture, flavor, and nutritional value to the bread.
Herb-infused sandwich bread: Incorporate dried or fresh herbs into the dough when shaping it to infuse the bread with aromatic flavors. Finely chop or crush the herbs before adding them to the dough for an even distribution.
Cinnamon raisin bread: Give the classic cinnamon raisin sourdough bread a twist by turning them into sandwich bread. Add cinnamon and raisins to the dough for a sweet and aromatic bread that is perfect for toasting and spreading with butter or cream cheese.
How to serve sourdough sandwich bread?
Sourdough sandwich bread's versatility allows you to enjoy it in numerous ways, making it a versatile and delicious addition to your meal rotation. Here are a few suggestions on how to serve and enjoy this delicious bread:
Sandwiches: Sourdough sandwich bread is perfect for creating a wide range of sandwiches. Use it as a base for classic sandwiches like turkey and cheese, ham and Swiss, or BLT. They are also delicious with fillings like roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, or avocado and hummus. The slightly tangy flavor of the bread adds a unique twist to your favorite sandwich combinations.
Yogurt sourdough sandwich: Use this bread to make a healthy and delicious yogurt sandwich, where the yogurt is the star ingredient of the filling.
Curried egg sandwich: Use this bread to make curried egg sandwich, where egg salad is used as the sandwich filling.
Toasted: Slice the sourdough bread and toast it until golden brown. Serve it with butter, jams, or spreads like cream cheese or peanut butter for a simple and satisfying breakfast or snack.
More sourdough recipes
The crumb of sourdough sandwich bread can become dense due to various factors. Insufficient fermentation time or improper proofing can lead to a dense crumb. If the dough is not given enough time to rise and develop properly, the gluten structure may not fully develop, resulting in a denser texture. Additionally, using high-protein flour or over-kneading the dough can lead to excess gluten formation, causing a denser crumb.
While the traditional sourdough sandwich bread recipe is typically made by using the stretch and fold technique, using a stand mixer can offer convenience and ease. For this, use the dough hook attachment and combine the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Start the mixer on low speed to mix the ingredients together, then increase it to medium speed and knead the dough as mentioned in the recipe.
For gluten-free bread, substitute the regular flour with a gluten-free flour blend that is suitable for bread baking. Make sure to use a gluten-free sourdough starter or create one from gluten-free grains. Please note that I have not tested this recipe for gluten-free options.
To make vegan bread, replace milk and butter with plant-based alternatives such as almond milk and vegan butter. Please note that I have not tested this recipe for vegan alternatives.
Properly storing sourdough sandwich bread involves allowing it to cool completely on a rack to prevent moisture buildup. Then, wrap it in a clean tea towel and keep it in a bread box or brown bag at room temperature, away from direct sunlight (avoid refrigeration). For optimal taste and texture, consume within 2 to 3 days. To freeze, place it in a labeled freezer-safe bag, storing it for up to three months. When needed, thaw at room temperature or toast slices for a quicker thaw.
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Sourdough Sandwich Bread
Make the initial dough:
- Make sure your sourdough starter is active and bubbly.
- Combine milk and butter in a saucepan and warm it up. The milk should be just lukewarm, around 90-100 F, which is sufficient to melt the butter. Don’t overheat the milk.
- To the warm milk, add the active sourdough starter, salt, and sugar.
- Slowly add the flour and combine well making sure there are no dry flour bits. Knead it gently for 4-5 minutes. Add 1-2 tablespoon flour if needed.
- Let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Perform 3-4 sets of stretch and fold at an interval of 30 minutes. With wet hands, grab a portion of the dough and slowly stretch it taking care not to break it, and fold it towards the center over the dough. Keep turning the bowl and repeat the process until all parts of the dough is covered. Carefully flip the dough and round it up. This completes one set of stretch and fold.
- Repeat this process 3-4 times at an interval of 30 minutes. The dough should develop strength and structure at the end of the stretch and fold cycle.
- Let the dough sit for bulk fermentation until it is almost double and has bubbles on the top. This may take 3-4 hours depending on the ambient temperature.
Shaping and second proof:
- Once the bulk fermentation is done, shape the dough. Line two loaf tins with parchment paper or baking paper.
- Dust the bench or work surface lightly with the flour and flip the dough onto it. Divide the dough into two equal parts.
- Shape each part of the dough into a 9-inch rectangle taking care not to push the air out. Gently roll it to form a log and place it in the prepared loaf pan.
- Place it in the refrigerator overnight for cold fermentation. At this stage, you can choose to bake directly without placing the dough in the fridge.
- If you are planning to bake the sandwich bread on the same day, let them sit in a warm spot for second proofing.
Bake sourdough sandwich bread:
- Next morning, remove the shaped dough from the fridge and let it sit in a warm spot for 1-2 hours (until it comes to room temperature).
- Preheat the oven to 360 F (180 C) for 15 minutes.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden.
- Cool it in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to let them cool down slightly before serving.