Soft Sourdough Sandwich Bread
Updated: Nov 19, 2020
When my daughter was born, we stayed home a lot! It was winter and I was desperate for a project. My husband loves sourdough, but I had always been so intimidated by the process. I started a sourdough starter using this simple recipe. But once I started researching recipes I was instantly overwhelmed. There is so much information out there for sourdough!
Finally I found a few recipes that explained the everything much more simply. I think one of the biggest surprises was how long the process of baking is. There's not a ton of hands on time for sourdough, but do not expect to eat this bread the day you start it, good things take time.
There are a few 'deal breakers' for sourdough:
Never used bleached flour. The bleaching process leaves remnants of chlorine and will destroy the beneficial bacteria in your starter. These bacteria give sourdough both its rising ability and health benefits, so we need those guys! Side note: This also made me reconsider purchasing bleached flour, and we no longer use it for anything.
Use only filtered or un-chlorinated water. Again, we need those beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts alive and well, in order for our bread to rise.
Use a mature starter. You need your starter to show lots of activity and air bubbles before it is ready to make bread. Give your starter a minimum of two weeks to mature before you start this recipe.
The rising time varies greatly! It is dependent on the type of flour you're using, the activity of your starter, and the temperature of the room the dough is rising in. That is why I only give a definite amount of time for the levain/sponge. For both rises, you will need to let your dough rise until it is doubled. I strongly suggest being patient with both of these rises and allowing the dough time to double because it will greatly affect the softness of your bread.
I didn't realize just how wet this dough would be. I was accustom to cookie dough, and wanted to add more flour to avoid sticking. The key is to slightly wet your hands before handling the dough. You want your sour- dough to be slightly sticky. Avoid adding additional flour until the final stage when you are shaping your loaves.
Allow your bread to cool completely before slicing. This will give you the ability to cut a more uniform slice that is thinner and more appropriate for sandwiches.
We store our bread in the fridge or freezer and toast it as needed. The reason this bread will not do well on the counter is because we have eliminated all preservatives that store bought bread is loaded with. Have you looked at the ingredients in store bought bread?! Eek!
This recipe is a beginner sourdough bread. It is not a crusty artisan style loaf that you typically see at a bakery. I think it is the easiest recipe to create a successful loaf of sourdough, and I wish I had found it during the first frustrating months of trying to bake.
Soft Sourdough Sandwich Bread
Levain/Sponge: 1/2 c Sourdough Starter
1 c. Water
1 3/4 c Flour
Mix levain/sponge together and allow to sit overnight or for 12 hours. You should see lots of smaller holes in the top of the sponge after 12 hours and it should expand in size slightly.
Add: 4 1/2 c Flour
1 3/4 c Water
2 1/2 tsp Salt
Knead dough together for 7 minutes in mixer with a bread hook attachment. If you are kneading by hand, knead for 15 minutes or until dough is elastic and all ingredients are combined. Avoid adding additional flour, dough will be slightly wet and sticky. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or tea towel. Allow dough to double.
Working carefully so you don't completely deflate dough, separate into 2 loaves. Shape dough carefully by pulling up sides of dough and tucking it onto itself. Watch the video for a visual lesson on how to shape your loaves. Place shaped dough into an oiled and floured loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow dough to double for the second time. This doubling process will vary, anywhere from 1-4 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Once your dough has risen, bake at 400 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pans immediately, and dry on a drying rack, to avoid a soggy bottom crust.
Don't forget to allow your bread to cool completely before slicing. I know its hard to wait but it will really help you to get thinner slices that are similar to store bought sandwich bread.
Have any questions? I'm here to help via chat on my page or via message on Facebook or Instagram.
Have you made a sourdough starter or bread using my recipe? Let me know by tagging me @traditionallyterra, I love to see your success!