Kate’s Soft Sourdough Master Recipe
As someone who is somewhat recipe obsessed- not in terms of following and trying new recipes, but in reading them and gleaning tips and tricks and methods to improve my cooking and baking, when I came across a sourdough sandwich bread recipe the other day with a different method…I knew I needed to play around with it.
My Sourdough Sandwich Bread is a weekly bread for so many families and for that, I am honoured. I am tagged on Instagram on a daily basis in peoples’ baking posts and it never ceases to thrill me.
The ingredients in this recipe are basically the same, albeit in slightly different measurements. It’s also measured in cups not grams, which many find so much more approachable and easier to get into sourdough baking without the added step of figuring out weighing ingredients too.
What’s different is the method: you’re going to mix up your starter with specific measurements the night before. Many refer to this as a levain, pre-ferment, sponge…if that feels overwhelming, just think of it as feeding your starter a specific amount, because that’s all you’re really doing.
Next is the proofing. You’ve got an overnight variation or a “make it one day” variation. For the make it one day method; it doubles and you punch it down after 2-3 hours and then let it rise another 2-3 before shaping. You may be saying but Kate – never has my dough ever been ready to shape after such a short time! I’m here to tell you, my dough, which is NEVER ready to shape after such a short time…is ready after such a short time. Like, hold my beer and watch this. Even if my house is cold, it still works. If my house is like REALLY cold…I’ll turn the oven on for a minute, turn it off, then put the shaped bread to rise in there.
The next drastic change is the temperature. For those who have struggled with dark crusts and dark bread at high temps; breathe a sigh of relief, this bakes at 375F. After it comes out of the oven, I slather the top in butter and leave it in the pan to cool. The bread ‘sweats’ in the pan a bit and softens the side crusts. It’s not as sweaty as it sounds, I promise, it works well.
Now the REAL magic in this recipe…is that without needing to be heavily enriched with eggs, oil or sugar…it’s soft enough to make cinnamon buns, french bread, and dinner/sandwich buns. Yes friends, one recipe, FOUR ways to bake it. And I’m not done experimenting. I have more up my sleeve.
While I love the original sourdough sandwich bread recipe, it’s not super versatile. It’s a loaf of bread only. This is the sort of recipe I need. One that I can make over and over and use it all sorts of ways. One that doesn’t require loads of butter or eggs to make soft cinnamon buns. A loaf of french bread for soup. A dough I can make a big batch worth and make it a few different ways: some buns to go with dinner, cinnamon buns for a treat, and a loaf of bread for tomorrow.
Your starter to make the preferment needs to be fed somewhat recently, but it can be falling/needing to be fed. It doesnt need to be at optimal bread baking state.
The recipe is written to make one loaf, but if you hold your mouse/tap your finger over the recipe card where it says “servings: 1 loaf,” a little slider should pop up where you can adjust it to fit your needs. While I never make just one loaf, it made the most sense for using the dough for other variations to write up the master recipe as one loaf’s worth of dough.
OVERNIGHT TWEAKS – In my extensive testing of this recipe, I have found if you are doing an overnight rise, you can skip the autolyze rest before kneading AND skip the first punch down and rise. Just let mix, knead, let it rise, punch down and shape in the morning.
EXCESS EGGS IN YOUR HOME?! You can swap 1/4 cup of milk for an egg! Add the egg in step 3. It adds an awesome boost to your dough and when you’ve got extra eggs, why not?!
Kate’s Soft Sourdough Master Recipe
- 1/2 cup sourdough starter it needs to have doubled, but can be falling and needing to be fed, it does not need to be at 'optimal bread baking state'
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- Pre-ferment from above
- 1 tbsp butter, coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey sub 1 tbsp honey for 1 tbsp maple syrup or 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup milk (save buttermilk from making butter for this if you have it!) sub non dairy milk or yogurt/cultured buttermilk watered down to to milk consistency.
- 2 1/4-2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- Butter to brush crust after baking
- I recommend reading the blog post before the recipe, there is some different steps here that may feel confusing, but are explained in the post. Happy Baking!
- Mix the pre-ferment of sourdough starter, flour, and water up 8-24 hours before you want to bake. The longer beforehand, the more sour your end product will be. If I plan to mix the dough in the morning, I make it before bed. Cover with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let sit on the counter.
To Make the Dough
- Melt butter, honey, and salt on low in a saucepan. When it's melted and combined, turn off the heat, add your milk, and stir to combine. With a thermometer or your finger, test the temperature of the mixture. By thermometer, it should be no more than 105F. By your finger…you should be able to comfortably hold it in for 10 seconds. If it's not this warm, turn the heat back on to warm it. If I use a heavy bottom pot, there is enough residual heat to heat the milk, if I use something like a thin enamel pot, there isn't.
- Add the warm liquid to your mixer (or bowl you plan to mix the dough in) and add your pre-ferment.
- Stir to combine; it's not going to combine super well until you start adding flour.
- Add your flour, starting on the low end, and mix the dough, adding more flour as needed just until it's combined, but not a cohesive, nice dough.
- Let sit 15-30 minutes, then knead the dough.
- This dough takes more kneading than most- my mixer kneads on low for 10 minutes, so if kneading by hand, you're going to knead about 10-15 minutes.
- If the dough sticks to the bowl or your hands, add a little more flour, but try not to add too much. It's not a stiff dough, it's on the softer side. Try wetting your hands/counter for kneading if it's sticking and you've already added a lot more flour.
Bake in One Day Method
- Cover your dough with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let rise 2-3 hours until it looks like it's kind of doubled (don't overthink it, as long as it's 1.5'd its original size).
Overnight Method (see notes)
- Cover your dough with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let sit overnight. It will be gigantic and beautiful in the morning.
For Either Method: Continue as Below
- Punch your dough down, give it a few kneads. Yes, you are letting it rise twice before shaping. For more on this, read the blog post above the recipe card.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let sit 2-3 hours until it's doubled. To test if your dough has doubled, dip your finger in flour and poke the dough. If the dough bounces back- it's got more to give and needs to keep rising. If the dough stays indented, it's given all it has to give and you can proceed.
To Shape your Loaf
- If you're using this recipe for French Bread, Cinnamon Buns, or Normal Buns, this is where you switch over to that recipe. To use as sandwich bread, proceed as follows.
- Dump your dough onto a lightly floured counter, press out with your hands to make a rectangle roughly the size of your two hands flat, side by side (roughly 6"x10"). Fold the dough like you were folding a piece of paper to go in an envelope, flip seam side down and let rest 10 minutes.
- This is called a bench rest or par-shape. It helps your dough keep shape in its final shape and your loaf of bread will be taller.
- After ten minutes, flip the dough seam side up, flatten out to the same size. This part is funny to describe but fold your rectangle so it's now a triangle, and then starting at the point of the triangle roll it inwards. When it's all rolled up, tuck any non-conforming parts in to make it a good size to fit in your loaf pan. Pinch the seam together, flip seam side down onto a piece of parchment paper. Pop it into your loaf pan.
- Cover with a tea towel and let rise 2-3 hours, until it's doubled. If your house is like REALLY cold- 60F or lower…I suggest turning your oven on for a minute or two (put a cast iron pan in there to hold some heat!), turn oven off, then put covered loaf pan in the oven to rise.
- When it's doubled and ready to bake, (don't forget to take it out of the oven!) preheat oven to 375F.
- Slash the top of the dough with a sharp knife to allow for expansion.
- Bake for 20 minutes, flip around and bake another 20 minutes.
- After the second round of 20 minutes (40 min total) check the internal temp of your loaves- this is the most reliable way to know your bread is ready. Your bread should be 190-200F, if not put it in for another 5 minutes.
- When your bread is done, take it out of the oven, leave it in the loaf pan to cool, and brush butter on the top. This can be melting and using a brush or just rubbing a stick of butter over the top. This step is technically optional but it REALLY makes a nice soft crust that stays soft.
- Now the easy part…enjoy your bread! I prefer to slice it all right away. Anything you wont eat within 2-3 days pop in freezer in a bag once its cooled.
Are the nutrition facts for the whole loaf or for one slice?
It would be per serving.
This recipe is amazing! Just threw away all my other “sandwich bread” recipes and have the cinnamon buns in the oven as we speak.
For the loaf it says nutrition info is per serving/slice but the recipe doesn’t denote how many servings per loaf. Curious how many slices you get per loaf.
Thanks again! So happy I found this recipe.
I think I usually get 16 slices.
Thanks so much! Any suggestions for adding in oats, seeds or other mix ins? Wanting to keep this as a base recipe for ALL the things. Just curious what all you’ve experimented with. Maybe using some whole wheat flour? So many possibilities just not sure where to start.
Thanks again for your reply!
This recipe is amazing! To make this into hamburger buns, do you just split into 8 sections to make small balls to slightly flatten or can you make into 4 and make a smal loaf or small batch of cinnamon rolls?
Yes you could make as many buns as you like then make a small loaf.
Aaaaaamazing! I am new to making sourdough bread. After three weekling tries I finally got a sourdough starter working. Then I tried two or three recipes that were really bad. Then I found your recipe!!! I made a double batch easily using your sliding scale. I made your cinnamon roll recipe with half the dough those turned out really really great! Then the bread. I am IN LOVE with the bread!!!! A million times thank you!
I love this recipe! It has been so fun to use and has always came out wonderful. I have used it for cinnamon raisin swirl bread and a braided garlic cheese and herb loaf. The braided loaf cooked about 20-25 mins and was so soft and fluffy! We are trying another braided one with simmered blueberries and lemon zest today. Thank you so much for sharing this gem.
That all sounds delicious. I had toast this morning with some of this bread Kate baked last night. It’s like eating a cloud.
I’m wanting to use sprouted splelt flour. Have you made this receipt with whole wheat flour?
I also read the sub for milk using yogurt, do I understand that we dilute the yogurt to milk consistency.
I can make regular sourdough bread, bagels, and cinnamon rolls using starter. I would love to make sandwich “shaped” bread. Any specific type of pan? I have a Williams Sonoma copper(?) one. Maybe metal? Would I use parchment paper or flour the inside?
Just a regular loaf pan lined with parchment. Kate lists a loaf pan size in the recipe.
How long does the pre ferment sponge need to ferment? I’ve read the blog and recipe multiple times, and I’m brand new to making sourdough bread. I’m feeling unclear about how to make the preferment sponge itself. Does it need to sit overnight. Where? What temp? Covered? I have a sponge recipe I use from another recipe, but yours is different, and I don’t want to risk doing it wrong and having it not turn out.
Hi! When I mix my pre ferment sponge I leave it for probably at least four hours, and sometimes overnight, at room temp (65-70 degrees) covered loosely with a lid or towel.
Should my pre ferment rise? I’m on my second attempt at this and my starter is in great shape but when I mix up the pre ferment nothing really seems to happen even overnight. There’s bubbles but no rising. Any advice?
Your pre ferment should rise a bit. Have you put it in a warm enough spot?
My husband is gluten intolerant but seems to be able to handle sourdough bread (I’ve heard it’s the fermentation). Does this mean I might be able to make cinnamon rolls and crusty loves of French bread again??? Oh my!!
Wow. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I doubled the recipe to make two loaves and it is perfect! I just finished gobbling up my first piece as I began typing. I fermented overnight and the sour was only very slight (that’s good for my picky husband). I will be testing out even larger batches for loaves and rolls since I have a large family. Anyway, I am super excited about this recipe and all of the possibilities! Thank you for this!
I love this recipe! The best sourdough I have ever made, my husband and kids gobble it up and I’ve started to need to bake a double batch twice a week because they love it so much. I am having some issues with the overnight rise however. It is over fermenting I think. The first time, it was pretty warm in the house and my starter and preferment had been sitting for a bit longer than they probably should have. Then I was nervous to add too much flour and I think I added just too little. I still baked the “dough” (it was really unshapeable dough mush) in bread pans and while it didn’t rise and it was dense, I just made it all into french toast and it was still delicious and did not get wasted. The second time I tried the overnight rise (last night), the preferment sat for a shorter time and I know I did enough flour. The bowl sat on my stove overnight and it was pretty cold (about 63F) in the house. In the morning it did still look like it was overfermenting. It was really bubbly. However I was still able to shape it and get a couple decent loaves! What a relief. Have you had any struggles with overfermenting? What would you suggest? Cold milk? Should I let it rise in the fridge overnight?
Thanks Kate! Your recipes are the best! We love you and your fam! My four year old watches your youtube videos with me and then pretends to be ‘Kate’ and milks her pretend goats and makes sourdough with whatever towels she can get her hands on haha!!
Yes try with cold milk. I will often do olive oil and cold milk so I don’t need to melt the butter or lard to warm it up. I’m so glad you love the recipes!
Great thanks! I was wondering, is there a minimum amount of time that the preferment needs to sit for before mixing the dough?
I’ve made this many many times and its my absolute favorite! I don’t even need to look at the recipe anymore lol.
I’ve always done the make in one day option because that’s what works best for us, but this week has been hectic so I tried the overnight version. IDK, maybe my house is a bit warm? But when I went to shape my loaves this morning, the dough was over fermented… Not too bad, it wasn’t soup yet lol, but definitely hard to work with. Not sure what I should do differently to make it work better next time though…?
Yes it could be that it was too warm. Find a cooler spot for overnight or prep it last thing before you go to bed to shorten the timing.
I have made this recipe many, many times. There’s a reason I keep coming back to it! My kids prefer this light fluffy bread over the artisan round loaves I make, and it comes out great every time. It’s a big, beautiful sourdough loaf with amazing texture and taste! I did try the overnight version one time and it did not come out well (I think it over fermented), but I have no complaints, as the one day bake method works perfectly for me!
Thanks for an awesome, tried and true recipe! My family loves it. ?
I made this delicious bread yesterday because I wanted a sandwich bread for sandwiches. It turned out perfect and works so well for sandwich bread – although we ate a lot just as sliced bread, too! I let the pre-ferment sit overnight (I was confused about this part from the recipe) and then made the rest the next day – it turned out perfectly!
I think it takes a few times making this recipe to wrap your head around the steps. Good news is if you are doing the overnight method you can skip the second rise and go straight to shaping the dough.
Does anyone know if a Gluten Free starter with 1 to 1 GF flour would work for this recipe?
I don’t think anyone has tried it yet. Let us know how it works out if you do.
Thank you for sharing all your hard work and beautiful creations with us!
I have a question. I use store bought milk and eggs in my dough. Is it safe to leave this out during the overnight rise? I have found mixed answers on the internet.
It should be just fine out on the counter overnight.
May I know if you have the measurements in grams? Thanks.
Sorry I don’t. One day I will work on converting it.
Where does starter come from ?
I made it a number of years ago. On instagram I go through how to start a starter. Should be in my saved stories.
I never knew the trick about pressing into the dough to see if it holds an indentation or not- love it!!! Thank you for that very helpful tip!
Glad you found it helpful!
What size loaf pan do we need?
Just a normal bread loaf pan is good!
Oh boy that’s a tricky one. I seem to have two sizes that are on either side of the ones Kate uses. My large ones are 8″ x 4″. I would use a slightly smaller size if I had them.
Can you make a video about this pretty please or do you have one with this recipe?
Here you go…it’s on Kate’s YouTube channel.
Hi! Can I use this master dough to make hamburger buns by chance?!
Yes, these would make lovely hamburger buns!!
I love using this recipe for buns. Once I shape them into buns and let them rise, can I put them in the fridge to bake the next morning?
Yes you can do that!
Can this be shaped into a loaf and then put in the fridge overnight to be baked in the morning?
Yes it can!
I am loving this recipe! I have made the basic sandwich bread and added a cinnamon swirl once. (I’ve only done the one day method.)
Do you think this recipe could be used for pretzels as well?
I would suggest you try it with a small amount of your dough. It’s a versatile recipe, but haven’t had any feedback on pretzels.
Samuel L medon
I don’t know if this is my fault, but the recipe came out denser than i expected. Possibly because it was super sticky so i ended up putting what felt like another cup of flour in. Hoping to improve my breadmaking next time!
I find there is a fine balance between sticky and just right.