Minimal Knead Sourdough Sandwich Bread

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I love sourdough. I love a big crusty hunk of it to enjoy with stew. But crusty sourdough doesn’t work very well for sandwiches. Making a sourdough that is sandwich bread quality is actually very easy and I’ve been playing with my sourdough recipe to make it even easier. Now in about 20 minutes hands on time I can have 4 loaves of light and fluffy sourdough bread. I found a bread recipe on line a couple of years ago (I do not remember the original source) and then last winter found a tutorial of a similar recipe. My method is based on a combination of those two.

Starter: Either catch your own starter or order a proven starter. I used this method for catching a starter. It is only whole wheat flour and water. Rebecca posted this starter which starts with rye.

This makes 4 loaves of bread and uses 4 cups of starter. It is easy to cut the recipe in half for 2 loaves or even add to it to make 6 loaves just make sure you have enough starter for the number of loaves you wish to make.

The Bread
4 cups active starter
3 1/2 cups buttermilk or kefir or combination of the two
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sea Salt
1/3 cup Sucanat or other natural sweetener
3 Tablespoons melted butter
10 cups whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, mix together starter and buttermilk (Be sure that you have feed your starter per your starters instructions and it is in the active state). Add salt, sweetener and butter. Mix well. Add flour 2 cups at a time, stirring to combine between additions. By the time you get to the 8th cup you will probably need to resort to mixing with your freshly washed hands, it will be very thick. Once you have all of the flour in, you want to give the bread a quick knead. Only for a minute or two. If you look at the picture below you will see that the dough is not smooth and elastic like a well kneaded loaf but it is not a shaggy mess either. Butter the top of your bread and then give it a flip and butter the other side. Cover with a tea towel and put in a warm place. Let it set for 12-15 hours. I start my bread late afternoon and let it set overnight.

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Slightly kneaded dough ready to rest and rise for 12-15 hours
After the 12-15 hours your dough should have risen a fair amount. Probably not doubled but definitely bigger. Get out your loaf pans and butter them generously. Divide your dough that has been sitting and rising (and neutralizing all those anti-nutrients) into four pieces. Take one piece at a time and work it in your hands. Push the bread into one of your buttered bread pans. Once you have it squished in flip the dough over. Repeat with each piece of dough. Cover your pans with a tea towel and let it set again. I like to let it set until it has been about 24 hours since I started making the bread.
Sourdough Sandwich Bread
Dough in the pans ready to be covered to rise again
To bake; Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Let bread bake for 15 minutes at 425 then turn down to 325. Let bake for 35-45 minutes until the bread is done (if you turn the bread out and thump the bottom it should sound hollow when fully baked).
Sourdough Sandwich Bread
Finished bread
I have been very impressed with the results of this bread when I started kneading it less. The bread was good before (once my starter had a few weeks to develop) but it seems that the bread that is kneaded less is lighter, fluffier and has a milder flavor. Of course, the limited kneading is a huge plus timewise too.

Additional thoughts:

Sourdough starter seems to need a few weeks or so to really get its groove. The first few times I made bread it did not turn out very good. But it seems that the more I use my starter the better the bread (and other things I make with the starter) turns out. This is the main bread that we have in our house so I am baking it at least once a week (sometimes more if needed). I really think that utilizing my sourdough starter often helps with the bread turning out so good. Making our own sourdough bread has really been a huge help to our budget. I can make 4 loaves for less than what one good quality loaf of (non sourdough) sandwich bread costs.

Update: This bread dough is very versatile. I use it not just for making sandwich bread but also for flatbread, sourdough pockets, donutsswirl breads (like cinnamon bread), and sweet rolls.

I still divide my dough into four parts, then use one part (or more) as needed for any of the above.  The remaining parts are made into loaves.
Have you ventured into sourdough bread making? Is it working out well for you?
This post is a contribution to Pennywise Platter hosted by Kimi, The Nourishing Gourmet
Millie Copper
Millie Copper is a Wyoming wife and mama. After reading Nourishing Traditions in early 2009, her family began transforming their diet to whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods—a little at a time while stretching their food dollars. Millie is passionate to share how, with a little creativity, anyone can transition to a real foods diet without overwhelming their food budget. Millie began blogging in late 2009 and has amassed a collection of frugal recipes and methods. Her specialties include cooking with wild game and creating “Stretchy Beans”. Discovering a love of writing, she has penned four books focusing on healthy eating on a budget and is trying her hand at fiction writing. Learn more at


  1. Millie

    >Thanks Kimi!

    I was still messing with the method trying to see if I could make it even less work and better tasting. It makes me happy when each week my family tells me 'this is the best bread ever'. The problem with making 'the best bread ever' is that they are eating it faster than ever!

  2. Rebecca

    >I will have to give this one a try for my family. We buy packaged bread like crazy; they like my sourdough but not enough for sandwiches.

  3. Ann Duncan

    >We don't do any bread (purchased or homemade) except for soaked/sprouted. And we keep up our own sourdough starter. This recipe sounds PERFECT and can't wait to try it! Looks like you've done a great job of show and tell on this, thank you much-much.


  4. Millie

    >Ann and Rebecca,
    If you try it and have any tips to improve it let me know. I'm on a quest to make the best possible everyday sourdough bread.

  5. Millie

    Too bad the SD crust flopped for you. We've enjoyed it. I'm sure in your crust quest you will find the perfect one.

    We discovered a couple of baking times ago that the bread works using only 2 cups of sourdough too. It was an accidental discovery and I haven't repeated it but thought it was interesting.

  6. Yolanda

    >This looks so nice. I am very happy to see the inclusion of kefir in the recipe. I make a sourdough bread using only kefir as the starter and it is very nice! You can check it out on my blog if you are interested. I am definitely going to try your recipe. Thank you!

  7. Susanna

    >Hi Millie,
    I've been making my own sourdough starter this week and am anxious to try your recipe next week! Couple questions: I have a Bosch, so kneading is not an issue, but am I correct in understanding that I should NOT knead this much (even though it would be simple to do so in the Bosch)?? Second, do you always feed your sourdough starter with whole wheat flour? I was just reading that it's better to switch it over to white, but wondering what your experience had been. Also, do you always use the 3.5 cups of kefir, or do you ever sub some water in? We are thoroughly enjoying our homemade commercial yeast bread (with gluten!) so we'll see how this whole sourdough thing goes. 🙂 THANKS for your recipe, etc.!!!

  8. Millie

    >Hi Susanna,
    How exciting to be jumping into sourdough! With this recipe as it is written it does not need to be kneaded. This recipe was developed after I realized that kneading by hand and chasing a baby around wasn't working out for me. I used the same recipe but more flour when I was kneading it. ALOT more flour (up to 16 cups depending on how wet my starter was that week). So not only is this bread easier to make for me but also cheaper. If you want to knead then you will want to use more flour in order to achieve the elasticity of a well kneaded loaf.

    I use homemade buttermilk or kefir or a combination of the two. I have even used part kefir and part whey before when I didn't have any buttermilk and was short on kefir. I do find that I have my best rise when I use a combination of buttermilk and kefir.
    The real key to this bread turning out with the minimal kneading is the long rise time. I start the bread in the afternoon, let it rise in the bowl until morning, put it in my pans and then do not bake it until late afternoon. From start to finish it is 24 hours or even a little more.
    My family had an adjustment time going from homemade yeast bread to homemade sourdough bread. And as I mentioned in the post, when I first started using my starter my loaves were awful. Once your starter matures a little though the bread will change. I use my starter for more than bread and I think it helps (pancakes, pitas, tortillas, crackers, etc). I do always feed my starter with whole wheat flour. I keep it in the fridge until ready to use then take it out a couple of hours before so it can warm up-sometimes I forget and use it cold with no problems.

  9. Susanna

    >Hi Millie,
    I just got the chance to try this recipe and was very pleased with the results! Not too sour, nice rise, soft crumb. And so, so easy!! I only did half the recipe since it was my first time. I'll definitely be repeating this recipe. Thanks for sharing, and for answering my questions!

  10. Millie

    I'm glad to hear you had good results! I think it is good to just do the two loaves the first few times until the starter matures a bit.

  11. Anonymous

    >I`m trying this recipe for the first time and decided to half the recipe. I used half the starter, but still needed almost 10c. flour. I was using white wheat, could this be part of the prolem? I also used soaked oats in therecipe. I have just gotten the loaves in the pans, but it was so sticky I could barely get it in the pan. Is this right? Should I use more flour when mixing the dough? Thanks-Kristi

  12. Millie

    >Hi Kristy,

    The soaked oats would probably add a bit more moisture to the dough. I haven't tried adding that but I have used soaked oats in muffins and really needed to increase the flour to not end up with soupy batter. Also, soft white wheat (if you used soft instead of hard) may absorb the moisture differently. I haven't used soft white enough to say for sure. The dough usually looks quite wet after I mix it but shouldn't be 'dripping' wet just on the shaggy side. After the 24 hour soaking time thought it is usually not overly sticky to the touch. I can work with it without it making a mess of my hands. I'm leaning toward thinking the soaked oats may have been the issue with the wetness. You could try using dry oats for part of the flour next time if you would like to add oatmeal to it. It would all soak together and you would have soaked oat and soaked flour in the end. Hope that helps.

  13. Terri

    Hi – I am starting to make more of the pocket meals, etc for the freezer and was interested in your pocket post. In it you said you use your regular sourdough bread recipe. I am assuming thi s is the one? If so, do you make up the whole 10 cup recipe for the pockets? Thanks!! Love all the ideas.


    1. Post

      Hi Terri,

      Since this makes four regular sized loaves, I divide the dough into four parts. I usually use one part for the pockets. But if I was going to do some extra for the freezer I would do two parts. The remaining parts would be made into loaves or rolled out for flatbread or turned into donuts or a combination of all. 🙂

  14. Cressa

    When you say to squish it into the pan and then flip over what exactly does that mean? I squish it in, flip over and put back into the same pan?

    1. Post

      Hi Cressa,

      Instead of forming into loaves, I just push the dough down in the pan. Then once it is in, I take it out and flip it over putting back in the same pan. This butters both sides of the loaf. Hope that helps!

  15. Angelique

    Due to anaphylactic dairy allergies, we can’t use kefir or buttermilk. I’m wondering about trying to ferment some almond milk with a bottled, fermented coconut water instead. What do you think?


    1. Post

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