Sourdough sandwich loaf

My first (relatively) successful sourdough bread after a number of failed attempts. I’ve learned that it is really important to hand knead (to avoid over kneading with machine), do the poke test to check proofing, and to shape the dough properly. Also, score the bread with a very sharp knife at an angle. Wetting the knife with water before scoring helps prevent sticking. Having a pastry knife also really helps with shaping.

This sourdough loaf is great for grilled cheese sandwiches!


  • 75g 100% hydration sourdough starter/ levain
  • 555g water
  • 555g bread flour (or mix of bread flour and whole wheat flour)
  • 14g sea salt
  • 30g honey
  • 30g olive oil


1. Levain – 9:00 a.m.

Build the liquid levain in the morning and store somewhere around 74-76ºF ambient.

2. Autolyse – 1:00 p.m.

Mix flour, honey, oil and water (reserve 100g of the total water for later mixing) in a bowl until all dry bits are hydrated. Cover bowl and store somewhere warm (around 75ºF) for 2 hours.

3. Mix – 3:00 p.m.

Due to the high hydration of this dough it’s helpful to build some strength at the start of mixing before adding in the reserved 100g of water.

Add the mature levain and about 25g of the reserved water, mix thoroughly by hand to incorporate and then slap and fold for about 6 minutes, just until the dough starts to show signs of a smooth surface and holds its shape on the counter. If you aren’t comfortable with this method, or don’t like it, you can do stretch and folds in the bowl until your dough tightens up and is slightly hard to stretch out and fold over. Around medium development.

When finished sprinkle the salt on top of the dough and use the remaining 75g of water (or less if the dough is starting to feel too wet and falling apart) to help dissolve. Pinch through a few times and fold the dough over itself to help incorporate. Keep folding the dough until all the water is absorbed and it comes together, it will end up slightly sticky.

Transfer dough to a tub or thick-walled bowl for bulk fermentation.

4. Bulk Fermentation – 3:20 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

At 74-76ºF ambient temperature bulk fermentation should go for a little less than 4 hours. Watch the dough! With this much whole grain it’s possible your dough could ferment faster than mine.

Perform 5 sets of stretch and folds during bulk, spaced out by 30 minutes (the first set starts 30 minutes after you finish mixing). After the fifth set of stretch and folds, performed gently, let rest for the remainder of bulk. The dough will not rise an incredible amount, but it should be slightly jiggly and some bubbles on top and at the sides. You want to see a slight convex edge between the dough and the bowl.

5. Pre-shape – 7:00 p.m.

Sprinkle a light dusting of flour on your bench and dump out the dough. Shape into a single round mass and let rest 20 minutes uncovered. Because this dough is highly hydrated rely mostly on your bench knife and try to touch the dough as little as possible. I use my knife to pick up and pull the mass around in a circle, forming a relatively tight skin on the dough.

Using a little olive oil lightly oil the baking pan.

6. Shape – 7:05 p.m.

Moderately flour the top of the dough and flour the work surface. Flip the resting round over onto the floured surface and fold the side edges at the top up and over to the middle (imagine a round bottom that tapers up to a point at the top, it will look like an inverted diamond of sorts). With floured hands take the point at top and start to roll the entire mass of dough downwards, with each roll pushing the dough with your thumbs inward toward the bench — imagine rolling up a beach towel. At the end of this you’ll have a tube that has essentially been rolled downward. Transfer to your oiled pan with the seam on the bottom.

7. Rest & Proof – 7:10 p.m.

Cover your pan with plastic and then retard in the refrigerator at 38ºF for 11-12 hours. Even at such cool temperatures this dough can quickly overproof so keep an eye on it in the fridge in the morning.

8. Bake – Next Morning: Preheat oven at 6:10 a.m., Bake at 7:10 a.m.

Preheat oven for one hour at 500ºF. Score dough. Bake for 20 minutes at 450ºF with steam, and an additional 30 minutes at 450ºF without steam. Then, turn the oven down to 425ºF and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes until done. I steamed my oven by preheating a cast iron pan with the oven, and then adding 1-2 cups of water to the pan right before putting in the dough.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack until cool enough to remove the bread from the pan, then remove and let cool directly on the wire rack for a few hours.

Recipe adapted from

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