A sandwich bread is a must when you plan a picnic, outing, gathering, kids party or BBQ. This is a kids favorite right!? However, I tend to buy sandwich bread from a good local bakery mostly, as I never plan ahead.
So this is not very frequent bread at our place. We prefer the rustic country bread and the last time I even bought a sandwich loaf was to pack lunch for a road trip, a few years ago (I think it was to Western Australia… yes we drove along the “great ocean road”, a bucket list item if you visit down under).
But I have been asked several times, for a sourdough sandwich recipe. I know this is a staple bread if you have kids. I mean before I started this whole sourdough bread journey, I depended on the good old sandwich loaf. It is versatile, soft, keeps fresh for longer and really easy to slice and pack…really what’s not to like about it!
This is the perfect bread to make fresh salad sandwiches, for picnics or a simple PB&J sandwich. We also love french toast made with thick slices of this kind of bread.
Whenever I bought sandwich bread, I used to go for Rye, wholemeal, seeded or oats thinking that somehow they were better than just eating white bread. Later when I went to pastry/bakery school I had the chance to study about the world of bread and I learnt how the industrial bread are being made and what goes into them etc. This is the major turning point for me. From this day onward, I stopped buying cheep supermarket bread and always went for that trusted local bread baker instead. I started to read the label and look for the bread from known reputed bakeries. If a loaf of bread is made with a few simple ingredients that you can pronounce and would remember, then that is what you should go for.
This is why making your sandwich bread at home is worthwhile, if you can’t find a good local bakery that does this for you. And the sourdough version is so flavorful. It is not like the usual white bread, it doesn’t stick to the inside of the teeth and doesn’t go all mushy like under cooked cake. You have to make it to know the difference.
Lets have a brief look on what each ingredient does in this loaf, so you can adjust them to suite your palate and / or substitute them with your preferred alternative.
What it does: lubricates crumb for easy slicing. Gives flavor, softness, keeps freshness for longer
For my sandwich bread I’m using good quality butter. You can substitute this with oil, but oil is liquid and so you have to be careful when adding water. You can use bacon fat /drippings too. Vegetable spread or vegan butter is another option.
What it does: sweetness, keeps crumb moist (sugar is hygroscopic), softer crumb, helps feed yeast, caramelized color on crust
I’m using caster sugar in this recipe. Can be replaced with honey, brown sugar, coconut sugar etc. If using sugar in liquid form, cut down on water when you mix the dough.
What it does: gives body, supply food for yeast, flavor
I am using all purpose flour as we are looking for a softer crumb. But this can be make with bread flour or a mix of other glutenous flours. If you use bread flour, your bread will be less soft and chewy though.
What it does: flavor, gives richness, softness(milk fat tenderizes gluten) and sugar too, helps keep fresh for longer, crust color
I’m using full fat dairy. You can substitute with plant-based milk but they may lack fat and sweetness so read the packaging to figure out. If you use, low-fat milk, then expect less richness as that takes away some fat.
A lot of extra ingredients can be added for various reasons.
Bakers dry milk powder: this is a common thing added in bakeries to achieve the soft, rich crumb
Starch: gluten free and gives softer crumb and help gives body/structure to the final product. I’m using chickpea flour, it adds flavor too. You can use potato flour or cassava flour too.
Diastatic malt: increase yeast activity and hence a greater rice/open cloudy crumb, gives flavor and color
Non-diastatic malt: for color and flavor
Okay, so ideally, sandwich bread or Pullman loafs are made in a specific pan that has got more height than a normal loaf pan. They usually got square edges and comes with a lid. You can use the lid or bake without the lid. The lid will give you a perfect block of bread and without the lid, you will have a slightly rounded/domed top. You can of course make this in your normal loaf pan, just that the bread will be of a different shape.
This recipe is developed to fit the following tin dimensions:
8.4(L) x 4.8(W) x 4.5(H) inch
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If you want to use a tin with different capacity, you might want to adjust the quantities. You can calculate and get a rough estimate and then do a trial bake to know for sure.
Following are the steps, its always a good idea to read through the steps, look at the pictures and then attempt the recipe.
Mix everything except for water and butter, in a bowl of a stand mixer. Gradually add water until everything comes together. When a dough is formed, add butter a bit at a time and mix to combine. Once everything is mixed, you will get a soft, sticky dough.
Let this sticky dough sit in the bowl for 15 – 20 minutes. And then mix for about two minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl as necessary. Add a little dusting of flour around the edges to encourage dough to come together in to a ball.
After mixing, the dough will feel stronger and stretchy, but still a bit sticky. At this stage get the dough out on to a floured surface, and finish off kneading by hand. Check next image.
Use slap and fold method to finish the kneading. After a few folds, you will get a tight dough like this.
Feel the dough and you will feel the resistance. The dough is a lot less sticky than the starting mixture but it is not completely smooth yet.
Place the dough in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to ferment. This is the crucial bulk proof.
This will take about 3.5 – 4 hours at 26°C(78°F)
This is how the dough looks after the proof. Almost doubled in size, softer and full of air bubbles. It will feel squishy. Tip the dough on to a floured surface and you’ll see the bubbles and the mesh.
This is the underneath of the bulked dough. This will look and feel spongy as the yeast has been multiplying, releasing a lot of CO2.
Now we need to punch and fold the dough again, back to a tight ball. get the dough from sides and fold into the center. Check the next image.
This is the easiest to punch down a soft dough. Once folded in, flip the dough and round it up while applying gently pressure.
Place the tight dough ball back in the bowl, close tightly and place in the fridge for retarding. For about 12-16 hours.
This process will help develop the unique sourdough flavor. If you are not particularly into sourdough flavor, then skip this part. But you will still have to refrigerate the soft dough for at least 2 hours, otherwise it will be very difficult to mold.
This is the dough as soon as I pull it out of the fridge after the retardation. It has grown a bit and feel very stiff to the touch. We need to let this thaw at room temperature for about an hour, so that it is soft enough to mold but not too soft that it sticks.
When the dough is soft enough to handle, tip it on to a lightly floured bench.
Now we need to roll this out. Check next image
When rolling out the dough, keep the bread pan as a guide. The width of the dough should not exceed the length the of the pan. Roll the dough until it is very thin (about 1/2 cm)
Make sure to check that it hasn’t been stuck to the surface. Lift the dough very lightly flour if it is too sticky.
Use as little flour as possible for dusting.
Start rolling the dough from one end. Make sure it is tight and that no gaps are left. apply gently pressure as you go to release any trapped air. Maintain the width at all times.
Once done, pinch the seem. See how the dough length now roughly matches the length of the pan.
Spray the pan with a very light coating of cooking oil. You can use oil or butter too.
Place the dough seem down, in the pan and press with your palm until it fits the pan nicely.
It should be a snug fit!
Cover the tin and leave in a warm place to proof.
This will take about 3 – 4 hours at 26°C(78°F) and we are looking for a risen dough like in the picture below
The dough should be risen almost to the top ( 1/2 inch below the rim) just below the lip.
You should be able to slid the lid on.
If it has come above the rim, then either you can bake without the lid or gently press the dough down for the lid to slid in.
Do not get the dough damaged, by trying to force the lid on
Pre-heat the oven to a 375 °F
Make sure to grease the underneath of the lid before sliding it in.
Place the pan in the pre-heated oven bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 25 minutes at 350°F
Tip: Internal temperature 200°F
Once done, take the pan out. Let it sit for about 2 minutes and then slide the bread off the tin. Use mitts and be very careful, it will still be very hot. Place the bread on a wire rack to cool completely.
If you leave the bread in the pan, it will go soggy so it’s important to release the bread while still hot.
Leave the bread to cool completely before slicing it. Use a sharp serrated knife or a bread slicer.
Keep in an air tight container for extended freshness
- 350 g all purpose flour
- 100 g fed starter (100% – 80% hydrated)
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp butter (soft cubed) (55g /half a stick)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2/3 cups milk (135g)
- 100 ml water (100g)
- 2 tbsp chickpea flour/garbanzo flour (optional)
- Measure and place everything except for water and butter in a bowl of a stand mixer
- Start mixing and add water gradually. If your starter is 100% hydrated, leave 1-2 tbsp water out. Mix on low until everything is hydrated.
- Add butter a piece at a time and mix on low speed to incorporate
- Once all the butter is in, leave the dough to rest for about 15-20 minutes. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or a lid
- Once rested, mix on medium for about 2 minutes scraping the sides as you go
- Dough will become stronger and will start to release from the sides of the bowl. Add a little flour around the edges to encourage this
- Once the dough is stable bring it on to a floured surface and flap and fold to finish off the kneading
- After a few folds, the dough will be smoother and stronger (check the images above to understand the dough consistency)
- Form a tight ball and place in a container, cover and leave in a warm place to bulk (3-4 hours at roughly 75-80F) Check the images to see what you are looking to achieve
- At the end of the bulk, tip the dough back on to a floured surface and punch down excess air, form into a tight dough ball
- Place the dough ball in a air-tight container and refrigerate for retardation (for maximum flavor 12 – 16 hours)
- If you want to bake the same day then place the dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours and continue to mold, proof and bake
- If your dough had need retarded, then take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour until the dough is soft enough to mold
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and roll out. Use the bread pan (mold) length as a guide to maintain the width of the dough. check pictures above to get an idea
- The dough thickness should be close to 1/2 cm
- Once done, start to roll the dough starting from one end as shown in the picture, just like you would roll a jam/cinnamon roll
- Maintain the width, always keep the bread pan close as a guide (check pictures above)
- Apply pressure while rolling and do not leave any gaps
- Once done, pinch the end
- Grease the tin and the lid. Place the dough seem-side down in the bread tin and press gently to fit
- It should be snuggled in the bottom part of the tin
- Cover the pan and place in a warm place until the dough is risen almost to the top and just below the rim (check the images to get an idea) This may take 3.5 to 4 hours depending on the temperature
- Towards the end of the proof, preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C)
- Once preheated, cover the tin with the lid and place in the oven
- Bake for 20 minutes with lid on and then remove the lid, bring temperature to 350 °F and bake for a further 25 minutes (internal temperature close to 200 °F)
- Once baked, remove the pan from the oven and set aside for 2 minutes before turning the bread out
- The bread should slide off easily when the pan is tilted
- If it is stuck, use a spatula to help release the bread
- Leave the bread on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing
Awesome…you have explained it so well with details of each ingredient. Lovely pictures n awesome bread. Thanks a lot Vindi.
Thanks Ritu 🙂
Would love to try this one. I am just two months old into sourdough baking. Still trying to make my starter strong.
You have broken down the recipe to the last detail along with pictures. Thank you so much.
You are welcome Sharda. Hope you will make this soon 🙂
Wow, this bread looks amazing! I’ll try your recipe, I just need to find the right flour: I am Italian and we have many kind of flours, but we classify them in a different way. Thanks a lot!
Thanks Annalisa. Any flour with medium gluten % ( around 10% – 12%) would be good.
You can use a mix of Type 00 and Type 0, just a suggestion 🙂
hi vindi! this bread looks so good and i would love to try it out. im confused though, about the starter; is there a need for a levain or is the 100g of starter just straight up starter? also how long before the use of starter in the recipe does the starter need to be fed? thanks so much!
starter = levain
Make the starter the way you normally do, to make sourdough bread.
Different starters take different times to ripe/peak roughly 6-8 hours but depend on your starter activity.
Absolutely love this bread. I’ve been looking for a new sourdough recipe and this is the one. I just sliced my bread and it’s delicious. Thank you for this recipe.
Thank you for leaving the feedback.
I am glad you loved it as much as I did 🙂
How much is 2/3 cups of milk in GM’s?
Google says 134 g but somewhere around that would be fine
Vini, I’m from Brazil. And here I know start 1: 2: 2 or 1: 2: 3.
example: start 1: 2: 2
levain – 30gr
water – 60gr
flour – 60gr
total levain – 150gr
example: start 1: 2: 3
levain – 30gr
water – 60gr
flour – 90gr
total levain – 180gr
Could you make an example of 100% hydration?
100% is the bakers percentage. So this is water as a percentage of flour.
Your first starter 1:2:2 has equal quantities of flour and water so it is a 100% hydrated starter.
I have a post “Bread making Basics for home bakers” it has full explanation of bakers %.
Hope this helps!
Thanks a lot!
If I replace some APF with WW, should I change the amount of liquid too
Do not replace more than 50% of the AP flour. Yes you might have to change the liquid depending on the flour type.
Most whole meal are thirstier. Check the dough consistency and decide as you mix.
Made buns according to your recipe..turned out very good…but bit dense..what can be the reason
Hi Navneet, usually any bread product turns out dense due to one of three reasons.
1. under proofed
2. starter not being active enough (weak yeast activity)
3. Not enough gluten developed
To fix these;
1. make sure bulk is long enough and check the final proof with a “poke” test
2. refresh your starter and use it at it’s peak
3. pay attention to mixing or folds to and also your flour mix (gluten %)
Hope this helps
this is a great recipe, tried it twice and both the time it turned our great, first time I added pizza herbs with olives and second time sesame seeds. thank you for this recipe.
Can this recipe be used for subway loafs?
will you be doing a pizza base recipe sometime… that is something my family is looking forward for. I had tried a recipe earlier but the base turns out very chewy.
Thanks for your feedback Poonam. Subway loaf composition is similar to a burger bun so I am not sure if this recipe is the right one.
Yes, a lot of asks for a pizza dough, so I will definitely have a recipe ready in the future.
I have posted some on my Instagram and Facebook page, if you want one sooner.
Do you use a dough hook to mix everything? What speed would I need to mix if using a KitchenAid,
Yes I do. Check the photos (step by step).To incorporate ingredients, use 1st speed and then use medium ( 2 on kitchen aid)
thank you so much, going to give this a try today
I would love to try this. You have done a great job explaining everything. I have a 13 inch Pullman. Do you have the quantities for that?
Unfortunately not. But you can double the recipe and try. I think a double will fit perfectly a 13″
Let me know how it went.
I have just popped my Pullman in the oven. Everything so far has gone according to plan! Looking forward to some great sandwich bread.
Awesome! Can’t wait to hear what you think 🙂
We really liked this bread, tried it in different size pullman pans, they were both perfect. Thank you for such accurate directions.
Glad to hear! 🙂
You are welcome
What is the function of the chickpea flour in the recipe?
It adds starch which gives body and moist(gelatinous), softer crumb.
I have explained this further in the post under Ingredients.
If the final rise was maybe too long and the dough rose too high to be pushed down so the lid can go on without damaging the bread what temperature or bake time changes should one make? I sure would hate to throw it away. Thanks
If the bread over proofed, it will not have the same oven spring or the nice open structure. Either way bake in the same temperature. You will have a darker crust on top. If you don’t want that, tent with a foil halfway through to the bake.
Perfect recipe. Only change I made was a longer first rise – left the dough overnight in our kitchen that runs cool. The entire loaf is gone. Going to start my second loaf this evening – husband and son are begging for more!
Awesome! Sounds like you have done a great job 🙂
This bread turned out amazing! I didn’t have any milk, so I used half and half. I figured the extra fat wouldn’t hurt anything and the result was a rich brown crust with perfect structured yet fluffy crumb. I will be making this one again for sure.
Yes! you were right on that! more fat > softer crumb 🙂
I’m glad you loved it!
Hi! Have you ever frozen the loafs? Do you know if they can be frozen?
Yes they can be frozen. Wrap in a few layers of plastic (cling wrap) and freeze.
Thaw overnight in fridge and bake for 10 minutes in a moderate oven (180C) to freshen up