A grainy sourdough sandwich bread, with wholewheat flour and seeds.
I’ve been playing around with sourdough recipes lately. It’s a lot of fun trying new combinations and techniques. I’d been wanting to add a sourdough sandwich bread to my repertoire for a while and I’m very pleased with how this one has turned out.
It’s got great texture thanks to the seeds, a real depth of flavour thanks to the molasses and it stays moist even after days in the bread bin.
It’s baked in a loaf tin which makes it easy to slice into even sized slices. I like to make a few extra loaves, slice ’em up and keep them in the freezer.
Sourdough Sandwich Bread Ingredients
This bread has a mix of both white flour and a wholemeal. In NZ I really dislike the supermarket wholemeal flour. It’s essentially white with chunks of bran in it and I don’t like the result it gives. An organic finely milled wholemeal works well though.
It has chia seeds, sunflower seeds and ground linseeds, and a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses. The molasses could be subbed with honey or maple syrup if you don’t have it, but it’s actually not there to give the bread sweetness. Molasses helps keep the bread moist and adds flavour and natural colour.
This dough has very high hydration level, meaning it’s very wet and sticky. The wholemeal flour and the chia and flax seeds absorb some of that moisture, but it will still be wet. Don’t worry though, a wet dough (coupled with an excellent starter) makes beautiful bread. Just wet your hands well each time you touch it so it doesn’t stick to your fingers.
Before we start with the process, as with all sourdough a good starter is key!
For me that means one that is very active with a low acid content. I feed my starter with a small amount of original seed starter and plenty of fresh flour and water. This keeps the acid content nice and low in the starter. Too much acid makes a very hard to work with dough.
My starter at its peak is light and airy, not runny and highly acidic. If you’re familiar with sourdough starters I’m sure you’ll know what I mean.
If your starter doesn’t double easily, within the time specified, don’t use it yet. There’s no point starting off already on the back foot when making a time-consuming bread like sourdough.
I’m going to run through my timings with this sourdough sandwich bread and how I fit it in my days. The exact times you make the bread and start things off can be tweaked to suit your schedule.
9pm: Feed Starter and Begin Autolyse
The night before I want to bake, I feed my starter. Because it’s being fed so far in advance, I feed my starter 3 times the amount fresh flour as I do seed starter. This is so it slows it down so it doesn’t peak overnight, before I’m ready to use it.
So, overnight I’d feed my starter 1:3:3 (that’s 1 part starter, 3 parts flour, 3 parts water). The fresh flour is the food source for the yeasts and bacteria. Remember that the more that is added, the more they have to get through and the slower the rise.
If I am feeding my starter on the day as opposed to the night before, I would feed it 1:2:2, for a quicker rise.
The dough needs 120g of active starter, so you could take 20 grams starter, 60 grams flour and 60 grams water ( a ratio of 1:3:3).
Mix this together well and you’ll have a total of 140 grams of starter ready for the morning of which you can measure out 120g.
I also begin my autolyse at this time. An autolyse is the mixing of the flour and the water which allows the glutens to hydrate and it makes a wonderfully stretchy dough. The longer the autolyse, the better. I cover the bowl that the dough is in with a plate to stop it drying out overnight too much. I leave the dough out on the bench but you could also refrigerate it overnight if you prefer.
Usually an autolyse is just the flour and the water of the dough. However this time I add in the seeds, molasses and salt at the same time, combining it together until it makes a shaggy dough. There is no kneading needed at this point.
7am: Add starter to the dough
The next morning my starter has risen and my dough has hydrated. Now I combine the starter with the dough. This is a sticky job. I wet my hand and squish it together until it has combined.
Once it is combined, I drop the dough into a low glass dish, like this glass pie dish.
7:30am – 10am: Folding
I let this dough rest for around 30 minutes, then perform 4 x sets of coil folds every 20-30 minutes. See the video below on how to perform a coil fold as shown on my honey oat bread
Over time this gently strengthens the gluten.
See how the dough changes in these next three pictures.
The dough is technically still sticky. If you squished a dry hand into, it would get stuck to your skin. However, wetting your hands thoroughly when folding and doing quick and smooth motions will help it slide off.
After 4 folds are completed, leave the dough to rest for another 30 minutes, then it’s time to shape the dough. Unlike my usual sourdough bread, the bulk ferment for this bread happens while it is already shaped and in the loaf tin.
10:30m – Shaping
On a floured bench, tip out the the dough and gently stretch it out into a square.
Take one edge of the square and bring it into the middle, then repeat with the remaining edges and form a ball.
With the seams facing up, push the ball out onto the bench, and roll it up like you would a sleeping bag or a Swiss roll.
10:30am – around 1pm
Place the dough, seam side down into a paper lined loaf tin. I use a 450g (or 1lb) loaf tin.
I really recommend lining it as every time I have tried it without baking paper, my bread has stuck. A home-compostable baking paper can be reused multiple times, and composted when done.
Now leave it to rise in a warm place until has bulked out by about 50%. A temperature between 21-25 degrees Celsius is good. If necessary, create a warm spot such as an oven that has been gently preheated (and then turned off.)
The risen dough should look and feel airier if gently prodded with a wet finger.
1pm-9pm – Cold Fridge Proof
Now the dough is put in the fridge for a cold proof, where the fermentation is slowed down and the flavour is developed.
This should be a minimum of 8 hours but it can go up to 20 if you want to bake your bread the following day. I like to bake it that night, so it has cooled by morning and can be sliced for school sandwiches.
The bread is baked for around 30 minutes. If you lift the dough out of its tin and tap the bottom of the bread it should give a hollow sound if it is done.
Now it needs to cool right down, for a minimum of 2 hours before slicing it.
Sourdough Grain Sandwich Bread
- 120 grams active fed starter* See notes below
- 220 grams all-purpose flour
- 80 grams finely milled wholemeal flour
- 3 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 2 tbsp ground linseeds (flaxseeds)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 260 grams water
9pm the night before baking
- Feed your starter at a ratio of 1:3:3 to ensure you'll have 120g ready to use in the morning.For example, 20g seed starter, 60grams fresh flour and 60g water will give 140g active starter to use in the morning, of which you can take 120g. Ensure your starter has at least doubled, if not tripled (but not collapsed), before using it.
- In a large bowl combine all the bread ingredients (except for the starter) and mix into a shaggy dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave the dough on the bench or in the refrigerator overnight.
7am the next day
- Your starter should have easily doubled, if not tripled at this point and should still be holding its shape. If it has risen and then sunk (you should see the marks on the jar), it may have risen too quickly overnight and passed its peak. In future your starter can be fed more flour, less seed starter to slow this rise down.
- Add the starter to the autolysed dough and mix it well together, then place it into a shallow glass dish. Leave this for 30 minutes.
- Every 30 minutes, perform 1 set of coil folds (see video in the post above.) Do this a total of 4 times.
- After the 4rth fold, leave the dough to sit and rest for a further 30 minutes.
- On a floured bench, tip out the the dough and gently stretch it out into a square.Take one edge of the square and bring it into the middle, then repeat with the remaining edges and form a ball.With the seams facing up, push the ball out onto the bench, and roll it up like you would a sleeping bag or a Swiss roll.
- Place the dough, seam side down into a paper lined, 450g (or 1lb) loaf tin.
- Now leave it to rise in a warm place until has bulked out by about 50%. A temperature between 21-25 degrees Celsius is good. If necessary, create a warm spot such as an oven that has been gently preheated (and then turned off.)
- Now the dough is put in the fridge for a cold proof, where the fermentation is slowed down and the flavour is developed.This should be a minimum of 8 hours but it can go up to 20 if you want to bake your bread the following day. I like to bake it that night, so it has cooled by morning and can be sliced for school sandwiches.
- After the cold ferment, it's baking time.
- Heat the oven to 230°C (210°C if using fan-bake).
- Bake the bread for around 30 minutes until dark browned and risen. If you lift the bread out of the tin and tap the bottom it should sound hollow.
- Leave the bread to cool for a minimum of 2 hours before slicing.
Have you made these? Tag me and let me know! @home_grown_happinessnz