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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

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