My favorite part about white bread is its versatility. My ideal white sandwich bread is light and airy, with a thin crust and a slightly sweet crumb that highlights and won’t upstage its toppings. You can use it for anything from turkey sandwiches to peanut butter and jelly. Sourdough starter helps this loaf stay moist for days after baking. As it stales, it becomes the perfect ingredient for French toast or croutons.
Using sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast imparts a nice tang and complexity that can’t be found in store bought bread. This bread does take some time to make—two days, perfect for a weekend baking project.
But it’s worth the commitment. The longer proofing times allow the wild yeasts in the starter to break down the flour in your dough and makes it easier for your stomach to digest.
Start With Active Starter
More than anything else, the success of this bake depends on your sourdough starter. To make this bread, you’ll need a mature, active starter. This means your starter doubles in size reliably and is capable of making bread rise. Making a strong starter from scratch usually takes about 2 weeks.
Don’t have a starter going? Ask around and see if anyone will share some of theirs with you.
This recipe uses enrichments like butter and honey, which can slow down the activity of your yeast, so make sure your starter is very active before using it. I like to feed my starter twice a day for a day or two before attempting this bake. In addition to increasing its activity, frequent feeding will also decrease the acidity of your starter, so you’ll end up with a soft, fluffy loaf with a slight tang and pleasantly sweet flavor.
Use Bread Flour for a Sturdy Loaf
I wanted to make a sandwich loaf that could stand up to any toppings or fillings. Using bread flour makes for a really strong dough that bakes with a sturdy but tender crumb that’s easy to slice and can stand up to lots of toppings. In a pinch, you can use all-purpose flour, but your resulting loaf will have a softer crumb that’s a little less spongy but equally delicious.
Whole wheat or rye flour won’t work for this recipe. These flours are “thirstier,” and absorb more water than refined flours like bread and all-purpose. This will affect the overall moisture content of your dough and may result in a dense and heavy loaf. In this instance, white flour works best.
For Kneading Ease, Have Patience
Sticky enriched doughs can be quite difficult to work with at first. If you find that your dough feels too wet and tacky, allow it to rest for 30 minutes or an hour before continuing to knead. This rest period lets the flour in your dough hydrate completely making it less sticky and easier to work with.
Sandwich Loaf Variations
- In my opinion, you can’t beat a honey-sweetened sandwich loaf, but you can substitute white or brown sugar if you don’t have any on hand.
- If you prefer a brioche-like loaf with a richer flavor and heartier texture, you can substitute equal portions of milk for the water in the recipe.
- Add-ins like seeds, nuts and dried fruit can steal water from your dough. You can incorporate these into your bread, but make sure you soak them in water for a few hours before adding them in.
More Favorite Loaves to Bake
Sourdough Sandwich Bread
Having a mature, active starter is vital for this bake. You’ll want your starter to be at its peak. Make sure it’s doubled in size and bubbly throughout before mixing your dough.
1/2 cup (113g) active sourdough starter
1 1/4 cup (282g) water
2 tablespoons honey
3 1/2 (420g) bread flour
2 teaspoons (10g) kosher salt
4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter, softened
Olive oil, melted butter, or an egg wash as needed, for brushing the loaf
- 8x5-inch loaf pan
Mix the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the starter and water and stir until the starter has dissolved. Add the honey, bread flour, salt, and butter into the bowl. Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon mix the ingredients together until all of the flour is hydrated.
Using your hand, continue mixing the ingredients together until everything is well incorporated and you have a homogenous dough, 2-3 minutes. (The dough may be sticky at this point. Don’t panic!) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Knead and strengthen the dough:
Set plastic wrap and a lightly oiled bowl aside to be ready for your finished dough.
Turn your dough out into a lightly floured work surface, it should feel less tacky and easier to work with. Begin kneading the dough gently, using a lighter hand will help develop the gluten in your dough and will gradually feel less sticky.
Continue kneading your dough for 10 minutes, applying more force as your dough progressively becomes more cohesive and easier to work with. Once your dough looks and feels smooth, place it in the lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rise:
Allow your dough to rise undisturbed until it has doubled in size, about 4 to 6 hours.
Chill the dough in the refrigerator overnight:
Working inside your bowl, gently knock the air out of your dough, then round it into a tight ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap again and refrigerate overnight. This will allow your dough to develop more flavors while slowing down fermentation so that your loaf does not overproof.
Shape the loaf:
Line an 8x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Grease any exposed surfaces.
A 9x5, 8x4, or 8 12/ x 4 1/2-inch pan should work just fine. The dough will just be a little taller or a little longer depending on what you use.
After your overnight proof, turn your dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.
To shape your loaf, use hour hands or a rolling pin to press or roll the dough into a 20x12-inch rectangle.
Don’t feel the need to break out the ruler here, these measurements are just a guide and do not have to be exact. But it is important to try to make sure you flatten your dough out to an even thickness, or your bread may turn out lopsided.
Fold the top and bottom of your dough towards the center, like you are folding a piece of paper into a letter.
Turn your dough 90 degrees. Grab the top of your dough and lightly roll it into a log, making sure you create tension as you go. Place your shaped dough seam-side down into your lined loaf pan.
Let the loaf rise :
Cover the pan with a lightly oiled piece of plastic wrap. Allow your dough to rise undisturbed at room temperature until it has filled your pan and has risen at least a 1/2 inch above your baking pan.
Preheat your oven:
Once the loaf is ready to be baked, preheat your oven to 375°F and position the rack in the center.
Score the dough:
Using a sharp paring knife or a lame, make a large vertical slash about 1/4 inch deep down the center of your dough.
Bake the loaf:
Brush your loaf with an egg wash, melted butter or olive oil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until light golden brown or 200°F in the center when probed with an instant-read thermometer.
Cool the loaf:
Carefully remove the loaf from the pan and place it on top of a wire rack. Allow your loaf to cool for 30 minutes before slicing. This will allow the crumb to set and will make the loaf easier to slice.
This bread keeps well for up to 1 week after baking. I like to wrap my bread in plastic wrap as it's really dry where I live.
This bread freezes well. Slice before freezing and double wrap in foil. To defrost, set the loaf out for a few minutes at room temp to help the slices separate and then toast individual slices.
Leftovers make for delicious French toast and bread pudding. If you prefer a more savory application, try buttery homemade garlic croutons.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 5g||6%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||13%|
|Total Carbohydrate 32g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|