This easy whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread is soft, fluffy, and a breeze to make. Full of whole grains and wonderful flavor, it's the perfect way to use sourdough starter to make an everyday loaf. The crust is beautifully golden brown, the crumb tender and even. You'll use your stand mixer to mix the dough, then bulk ferment overnight while you sleep. No kneading or stretching and folding!
There’s something about a lofty loaf of soft, buttery sandwich bread that shouts nostalgia. I grew up with store-bought sandwich bread that certainly wasn’t artisan or full of much nutrition, despite the whole grain labeling. But it was soft and delicious, and I loved nothing more than making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with it.
And I absolutely wanted to create a sourdough sandwich bread that was soft and airy, with the benefits of fermentation and whole grains.
What to expect from this whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread:
I tested this recipe over and over again, until I achieved what I think is an amazing whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread that will bring you right back to your childhood.
It slices like a dream, with an even crumb and a soft, tender texture. It’s not dense (which can happen when using whole wheat flour)! And the whole grain component leads the way to fabulous nutty flavor.
This whole wheat sourdough is ready to be made into your favorite deli sandwich, grilled cheese, or pb & j.
And it’s easy to make! Your stand mixer will do all the work for you, NO hands on stretching and folding, or kneading.
I like to make this recipe using an overnight bulk fermentation, and then a shorter final rise in the morning. It makes things super simple!
8:30pm: Mix starter, flours, milk, water, and honey. Let sit for 45 minutes.
9:15pm: Use stand mixer with dough hook to mix in salt and softened butter. Then mix on medium speed for 7 minutes.
Cover with plastic bag and let rise overnight in a cool spot.
7:30am next day: Turn dough out onto counter and let rest for 10 minutes. Pat dough into a square and fold 1/3 of dough into the middle, then roll the rest of the dough up. Use a bench scraper to create a bit of tension and seal the seam. Place seam side down into well greased, 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic bag (that doesn’t touch the top of the dough). Let dough complete its final rise in a warm spot.
11:00am: Final rise is complete when dough has risen just above the rim of the pan. Brush with water and sprinkle with oats, if desired.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F, until interior of bread is at least 205 degrees F.
How to Shape Sourdough Sandwich Bread:
There’s good news – shaping sourdough sandwich bread is easier than shaping a round boule of Everyday Sourdough! In fact, I recommend this bread if you’re a sourdough beginner, as the process is relatively straightforward and forgiving. You’re using a loaf pan to hold the bread and give it structure, rather than trying to build structure by building tension with your hands .
Follow these photos as a guide to shaping your whole wheat sandwich bread.
Temperature is an important ingredient in sourdough baking.
Both the temperature of the LIQUID used to make your dough and the temperature of your HOME (AIR) have a large impact on how fast your dough will rise during the bulk fermentation. By using room temperature milk and storing the dough at around 65 degrees F, the dough rises nicely overnight, taking about 8-9 hours.
*If you use cold milk, your dough will rise slower, which is a way to adjust for warmer than 65 degrees F room temperature.
How long to bake sourdough sandwich bread:
This sandwich loaf takes about 30 minutes to bake, at a temperature of 400 degrees F. You’ll bake it with a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven for the first 15 minutes to create a steamy environment, then remove that and bake for 15 more minutes. The bread is finished baking when it has reached an internal temperature of 205 degrees F.
How to store sourdough bread:
The wonderful thing about this sandwich bread is that it stays soft and delicious for 5-6 days! This is achieved by using butter and milk, and sourdough starter. Store this bread in a plastic bag once you cut into it, cut side down on the counter.
Around 8:30pm: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add starter, honey, milk, and water. Whisk with fork to combine. Then add whole wheat flour, bread flour, and ap flour. Attach dough hook and mix on speed 3 of a Kitchenaid until no dry bits appear, about 30 seconds. Let dough rest for 45 minutes, with cloth covering the mixer.
Add salt and turn mixer on low, speed 2 of Kitchenaid. Add a chunk of butter and once you can no longer see it, add the next, until all butter is in dough. Then turn to speed 4 on Kitchenaid mixer (medium) and mix for 7 minutes. Remove bowl from the mixer, cover with a plastic bag, and let rise overnight in a cool spot, between 65-68 degrees F.
Around 7:30am, your dough should have increased in size by about 50%. It will have rounded edges and have puffed up, but still look a bit dense. It will not have bubbles or big jiggly like regular sourdough. Dust your countertop with flour and place dough onto it, and let rest for 10 minutes.
Gently press it into a square-ish shape, popping any bubbles you may see coming through surface. Fold one of the sides inwards about 1/3 of total length of dough. Then begin rolling that side up, until the loaf resembles a log. Use your hands to tuck ends of log in, and gently pull the log towards you to create a bit of tension and seal the seam.
Use a bench scraper to pick the dough up and place seam-side down in a greased9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot, covered with a plastic bag (that does not touch the top of pan/dough) until the dough has risen to the rim or just above the pan, about 3 to 4 hours. When finished proofing, brush dough with water and sprinkle with oats, if desired.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, with a pan of water that has 2 cups of water in it, placing pan on bottom rack of oven (this creates a steamy environment that the bread loves). Bake bread for 15 minutes, then remove the pan of water. Continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, until bread is golden brown on top. To check for doneness, insert thermometer into center of bread, which should read at least 205 degrees F when complete. While warm, brush top of loaf with a tablespoon or two of butter to keep it soft.
Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then using oven mitts gently tip the bread out. Let finish cooling until completely cool, at least 1 1/2 hours before slicing. Slicing too early while it is warm will result in gummy bread.
Would this work with buttermilk instead of whole milk?
Hello! I haven’t tested it with buttermilk, but I think it would work!
I made this bread, it turned out great. I would like to make in in a pullman loaf pan so it makes bigger slices. any advice on how to increase the recipe for a 13x4x4 pan?
Hello! I haven’t tested this in a large pullman pan, sorry. Glad you enjoyed the bread!
This is the best whole wheat sandwich loaf I’ve made. I’ve tried a few recipes in the past. My previous loaves have been a mixed bag – often the loaf doesn’t rise enough so the slices (while tasty) are on the small side. I worried about the timing, so I did play with it. I started it around 3 PM and put it in the loaf pan around 10:30 PM. I debated putting it in the refrigerator (like someone else recommended), but I put it on my enclosed porch (which is still a little cool considering that it’s near the end of May!) and left it until about 7:30 the next morning. It was definitely ready to be baked at that point!
Just curious, How did you get your starter to be at peak at 8:30 pm? I usually feed mine the evening before I make bread so it will peak way before 8:30 pm. Seems like it is a bit difficult to figure out when it will peak because of the temperature differences in our homes and the amount of starter that one plans to feed.
Hello! At a 1:2:2 feeding ratio my starter usually takes 6 hours to peak when temperature in home is around 75 degrees, so I feed it around 1pm.
feed it at about 9am in the morning that evening it will be ready to go.
If you feed your starter, when it about doubles in size that is peak but as long as you use it in 3-4 hrs from then you be fine. It’s not that specific.
thank you for this resipe! I am new to sourdough and as a mom of 2 I have to squeeze all my bakings into a pretty busy schedule (school pick ups always get me ha-ha). But this bread was super easy to make! and it has turned out really tasty, with a soft yet crunchy top
I’m so glad you like it and are able to fit the baking into your schedule! That’s one of the things I like with this recipe too.
This was a fantastic recipe -thank you! I baked three loaves this am, and I’m starting another three loaves tonight (big family). I have made a LOT of sourdough over the years. In fact, all our bread products are homemade as either sourdough or sprouted for about near 7 years now. Yours is one of the best sandwich bread recipes out there…and it slices really nicely. We have a cow so I have plenty of milk to use. This DOES call for a lot of milk. I substituted the butter for softened tallow and it worked just fine. I did have to add a small amount of extra flour, but I think it is the local milled organic flour I’m getting that needs a bit less liquid….your recipe is probably accurate. Thanks again.
Hi Angie! I’m so glad you’re enjoying this recipe. I dream of having a few farm animals some day, love hearing that you have a cow!
I am new to baking bread and new to sourdough so your detailed explanations were perfect. My husband is vegan, so I used Silk’s full fat Nextmilk in place of milk, flora non salted vegan butter and Yacon syrup in place of honey. It still turned out delicious and rose beautifully! Next time he’s out of town I’m gonna give the original recipe a try ;)
Just wanted you to know it’s easy to turn into a vegan bread too!
These notes are so helpful for others, thank you! And I’m glad it was enjoyed by you and your husband.
Very tasty loaf Amanda! I made this previously following your bakers schedule, but since it’s summer and HOT, I wanted a loaf that I could bake in the morning before it got too hot. So, I switched up the schedule, fed my starter yesterday morning and then mixed my dough at 2 pm. After the bulk fermentation (~ 10pm for me), I shaped the dough, put it in the loaf pan and put it in the fridge overnight (~10 hours). It wasn’t quite ready to bake when I got up, so it sat on the counter for about 1.5 hours to finish proofing. The bonus? Using my oven in the morning instead of later in the day when it was 94 degrees! I used King Arthur WW flour which worked fine even though it has slightly less protein than the WW flour you recommended. The dough did benefit from a preshape prior to the final shaping, but it’s a delicious loaf and the process is flexible – a winner! It’s great to have good sandwich bread for these hot summer days!
Love that you experimented with the overnight retard in the fridge! It’s been so hot here too. I will try it this way. So glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the notes!
I used all purpose instead of bread flour and it still turned out so delicous! I am going to try to up the whole wheat content a bit and see if it still works.
Hi. I want to try this. Can you please give me the measurements in cups? Thanks in adbance.
Hi Melissa, it’s necessary to use measure in weight in sourdough baking for precise results. People way flour differently, so grams are used to ensure everyone is creating the recipe as written, for correct hydration and results.
I baked this bread today. Excellent! Thanks for the detailed explanation.
So glad you liked it, Mary!
I have not been able to find nutritional information for your recipes, especially the sour dough sandwich bread and the red fife bread. Help? Thank you.
Hi Sue, I do not calculate nutritional information, as I don’t have education in that. This calculator might give you what you’re looking for.
Loving this recipe! Would it be okay to let second rise go in the refrigerator for a bit? Also, is it just me or anyone else? Kneading on 4 in my Kitchenaid had the machine jumping all over the place 😀. I held it on the counter, but wondering if it’s just me. Hahaha 🤪 Thanks!
Hi Laura! I would think you could do some of the second rise in the fridge to slow it down. When you take it out, just make sure it warms up and gets to the point of rising to the top of pan as the photos show, so you know it is fully proofed.
Thanks Amanda! This was a delicious bread recipe and one I will make again! I did let it sit in the fridge for a few hours which didn’t hurt it at all. I then let it warm up a bit and rise a little more. Thanks so much!
awesome, glad it worked to give it a little chill in the fridge!
Followed these instructions almost exactly! I have regular whole wheat flour, not whole wheat bread, but all was great. Will use this recipe regularly.
Love this recipe, it came out so delicious! Used what I had on hand, so swapped buttermilk for regular milk and a super grain flour blend instead of whole wheat bread flour. Will make again!
Oh, the buttermilk sounds like it would be a great version of dairy to use! I’m glad you liked the recipe.
If I feed my starter in the morning, how do I do this recipe and get my starter at its peak…since you say to start this at 8:30 pm?
You can feed it in the morning, and then discard and feed in the afternoon again, so that the timing of the 2nd peak of the day is around 8:30.
Ohmaword- I’m so excited to try this recipe! One question: I don’t have a stand mixer. Would I just do a regular style knead? For how long?
Hi Faith! I haven’t tested this with a regular style knead. The mixer is essential, in my opinion, sorry!
I made this yesterday and it turned out beautiful. Do you have any idea on the protein content?
Great recipe! I swapped fresh-milled rye flour for the whole wheat flour portion in this recipe and it turned out great! This one’s a keeper! Thank you 😊
yay, glad to know you enjoyed this sourdough sandwich bread!
Recipe was easy to follow. I had a little trouble forming the loaf at first but it looked great coming out of the oven!
This bread is divine! So soft and fluffy. The stand mixer does all of the work and comes together very easily. Another winner Amanda!
Yay, so glad you liked it, Amy!
Can’t wait to bake this recipe – love using my starter for different types of bakes but I’m a little confused by the cold proof! Is it okay to do the cold proof in the fridge or should it be out of the fridge and near a cold window or something like that instead? Thank you!
hi Nikita! out of the fridge in a cool spot (coldest in your home) is best for the overnight proof! if it is warmer in your home at night, like 72 degrees F, your dough will rise faster so you will need to get up earlier to check on it.
Okay great thank you very much! I don’t have a thermometer so i’m just going to have to give it a go and we shall see what happens!
Fantastic recipe so easy to follow and the best sandwich loaf I’ve ever made!
so glad you enjoyed it, Liz!
WOW I just made this and it is incredible. I’ll definitely be making again!
I have been hunting for a while now for a bread recipe using my starter. I should have known you would master one for all of us bakers. Thank GODDDDD! This is incredible and very simple. THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!
yay, so glad you liked it Cindy! happy baking!