I have made this recipe twice now and I think it will be my regular sourdough recipe. I do have a couple others I want to try, but they make a more typical, more crusty loaf. Which is great when that's what you want. But we like our normal bread to be of sandwich quality, too. So when I found this recipe over at Real Food For Less Money, I knew it was the sourdough I wanted to make.
This recipe makes light and fluffy loaves of bread, with only about 15-20 minutes hands-on time. Yes, there are long periods of rise time, but those are easy enough. I mix mine up in the evening, let it do its first rise while we're sleeping. Then punch it and shape it into loaves in the morning and let it sit all day for its second rise. Then I bake it and we're able to have a couple slices with dinner that night. Perfect!
This recipe is supposed to make three loaves. I have only made half the recipe posted below each time and have gotten two medium-sized loaves out of it. That's perfect for us. Maybe I'll do the whole recipe and freeze more someday.
Sourdough Sandwich Bread
2 cups starter
3 1/2 cups buttermilk, kefir or combination of the two (I've used buttermilk both times, but would like to try it with kefir sometime)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sea Salt
1/3 cup Sucanat or other natural sweetener (I used sucanat the first time and honey the second... honey was our favorite)
3 Tablespoons melted butter
8 cups whole wheat flour
In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer), mix starter and buttermilk. Add salt, sweetener and butter. Mix well. Add flour 2 cups at a time. Once all the flour is in (switch to your dough hook if using a stand mixer) give the dough a quick knead for a couple of minutes. The dough will be quite sticky. Butter the top of the dough, flip it over and butter the other side. Cover with a cloth. Let set in a warm spot for 12-15 hours, it should rise quite a bit during this time.
Prepare three loaf pans by buttering generously. Punch down dough and divide into thirds. Take one piece at a time and work it in your hands. Push the bread into one of your buttered bread pans. Once you have squished the dough into the pan, flip it over. This will butter the dough. Repeat with each piece of dough. Cover your pans with a cloth and return to your warm spot allowing the bread a second rise. This could take 6-12 hours depending on your starter and the warmth in your home. On cold days, you can put the oven on to warm to a low temp. When it has preheated, turn it off and put the bread in there to rise. Just be careful removing the bread from the oven before baking and don't deflate it and don't forget that it's in there and accidentally turn the oven on to make something else.
To Bake: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Let bread bake at 425 for 15 minutes then turn down to 325. Continue baking for 35-45 minutes until the bread is done. If you turn the bread out and thump the bottom it should sound hollow when fully baked.