Sourdough: It’s not just for crusty artisan breads.


When you think sourdough, you probably think crunchy-crackly-crusty artisan loaf, right?

Something you’d rip a piece off of with your hands, fresh from the oven. A big, round loaf, or picture-perfect oval boule.

But sourdough sandwich bread, baked in a loaf pan? Nuh-uh.

Well, it’s time to broaden your horizons.

Reader Clay Blackwell of Lynchburg, Virginia sent us the following note and recipe, via e-mail:

“Hi! I have really enjoyed using King Arthur products and look forward to the new catalog each month! About a year ago, I ordered the sourdough culture, and have been baking with it ever since! I make at least one loaf a week for my husband and me. I often make extras to give to friends… they make a wonderful hostess present!

“After several months of working with recipes, I have finally developed the one I like best for everyday loaves. This is a multi-grain sourdough, and it is absolutely heavenly toasted or for sandwiches! I thought you might like to try it. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!”

While we did change this recipe slightly, we kept it pretty close to Clay’s original. It’s an unusual sandwich bread, in that it has the chewy texture of an artisan loaf, rather than the soft/tender texture of a typical loaf-pan bread.

Happily, this makes it perfect for sandwiches: easy to slice (no crumbling), and sturdy enough to pack for lunch. And its tangy, rich taste is perfect with grilled veggies, ham and cheese, chicken salad, and all manner of favorite fillings.

Made with a touch of whole wheat, a generous helping of our Harvest Grains Blend, and just 1 tablespoon of fat (olive oil), this is bread you can feel good about eating. Plus, like any sourdough bread, it stays fresher longer: breads higher in acid retain moisture better than less acidic loaves.

Make this loaf one of your breadbox regulars – and be ready to enjoy some of your best sourdough toast and sandwiches ever.

This is our King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour; new name, but the same great 100% whole wheat flour – the one in the brown bag – you’ve enjoyed for years. I like its grind; not too fine, but not so coarse that the bran is obtrusive.

Harvest Grains Blend is our best-selling blend of whole oat berries, millet, rye flakes and wheat flakes; plus flax, poppy, sesame, and sunflower seeds. It adds crunch and great, nutty flavor to all kinds of breads – including this one.

OK, start by getting out your sourdough starter, and making sure it’s in good shape. It doesn’t necessarily need to be fed, but it shouldn’t be in drastic need of TLC, either.

Wait a minute, doesn’t sourdough starter always need to be fed before using? Well – not always. So long as you’re using a recipe with added yeast, you can use sourdough straight from the fridge; just assume your rising times will be slightly longer.

One caveat: if your sourdough hasn’t been fed in a long time – e.g., it has a layer of dark liquid on top – best to feed it before using.

If you decide to feed your starter, take it out of its crock, and put it in a bowl. (This is a good time to wash the crock.) Add equal parts unbleached all-purpose flour and lukewarm water by weight, which is about 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water.

Stir to combine.

Several hours later, it’ll look like this: bubbly.

Take out the 2/3 cup you need for the recipe, and pour/spoon the rest back into the cleaned crock.

Now we’re ready to make dough.

Combine the starter with 2/3 cup lukewarm water.

Add the following:

1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour; start with 1 1/3 cups*
1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup instant potato flakes
1/2 cup King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour or 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons King Arthur Whole-Grain Bread Improver (optional, but helpful for rise)
1/3 cup Harvest Grains Blend OR your favorite blend of seeds and flaked whole grains
2 teaspoons instant yeast

*You’ll probably end up using less flour in the winter, more in summer.

Mix until everything comes together.

Knead to form a smooth dough.

The dough may start out shaggy, then become stickier as you knead; if you use a stand mixer, by the end of a 7-minute knead it’ll be sticking heavily to the sides of the bowl (above).

That’s OK; if you can scrape it off the sides of the bowl and it feels firm enough to hold its shape, and doesn’t stick to your floured or oiled hands, it’s fine.

Put the dough in a lightly greased container; this 8-cup measure will let me track the dough’s progress as it rises.

Cover the dough, and allow it to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours; it’ll become puffy, though it may not double in bulk.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan.

Gently deflate the risen dough, and shape it into a log. Place it in the pan.

Cover it lightly (love our cheap plastic shower caps!), and allow it to rise until it crests at least 1” over the rim of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

The bread doesn’t have much oven-spring (i.e., it won’t rise much once it’s in the oven), so be sure to let it rise fully before baking. A loaf risen 1″ over the rim of the pan will be denser and more close-grained; letting it rise higher will give you a “spongier,” lighter bread.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 minutes if it’s as brown as you like it. When it’s done, the bread will be golden brown, and will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Run a stick of butter over the crust, if desired; it adds flavor, and an attractive sheen.

Let cool completely before slicing. I know, it’s hard to wait; but cutting hot bread not only releases a lot of its moisture, it makes for a very gummy slice of bread, due to the starches still being soft.

So – put down the knife; walk away from the bread… until it’s cool.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Clay’s Multi-Grain Sourdough Sandwich Bread.

New to sourdough? Find the help you need for all of your sourdough baking at our Sourdough Essentials page.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...


  1. argentyne

    That looks wonderful! I’m definitely adding this to my list of things that need to be baked this weekend! Right along side the pumpkin scones and the peppermint scones and the cake and… :)

    Ah, busy weekend coming up. Don’t forget to strategize your plan of “attack” for Thanksgiving! :) PJH

  2. wisecarver

    Thanks PJ ;-)
    I work with a lot of rock, that load was 6 ton of stone I used to create a concrete and rock pathway going up a hill, with small enchanted villages along the way, like a small Rock City. The kids love it.

  3. karenmtaylor

    My favorite bread is the 12 Grain Bread by one of the big bakeries and this sounds/looks like it might be closer to the 12 grain, and to have it with the sourdough taste, a match made in heaven

  4. ldgourmet

    I already have your starter and crock and flour. Can this be made w/o buying ten more KAF ingredients and tools???

    Sure, substitute whatever you’d like. Potato flakes for potato flour; and any kinds of seeds/flaked grains for the Harvest Grains Blend. You can use all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat, if you like. Leave out the improver, it’s optional. Hope this helps- PJH

  5. piercesb

    This bread looks wonderful. Sourdough starter might have to go on the list for my next order. How much of this recipe could be done in the bread machine?

    For sure, you could knead the dough in the bread machine. You might be able to bake in the machine – haven’t tried it, so no guarantees, but if you feel like experimenting and sharing your results here – go for it! PJH

  6. BakeMe

    I’d love to make this bread. I am usually not a big fan of sourdough bread (just because it intimidates me and I am not sure that can do these breads properly) but your beautiful picture has inspired me to give it a try. The problem is I do not have any sourdough starter and I don’t know how to create one from scratch (assuming that it is even possible).

    Can you help please.

    Here is a recipe for starting your own: Frank @ KAF.

  7. K2

    This looks goodenough to try to translate to a gluten free recipe. Is the sourdough starter gluten free?

    No. The sourdough starter is not gluten-free. It is made with wheat flour. Frank @ KAF.

  8. LeeB

    I made this and it did not rise. My sister made it and it did not rise. :( I’m usually pretty good with sourdough but this recipe has us both stumped. It was a small, sourdough brick.

    We have a lot of questions that will help us problem solve! Instant yeast? Lively sourdough? Stand Mixer or by hand? This is a good opportunity to call our Baker’s Hotline at 802-649-3717 and we can solve this together! Irene @ KAF

  9. helenfl

    I made this bread yesterday, the only change I had to make was substituting 1 TBSP of Vital Wheat Gluten for the bread improver. The bread is beautiful and tasty! I’ve been wanting a good, sourdough loaf bread that worked well for sandwiches and toast. Even good with peanut butter. I let it rise to about the height of the finished bread in the picture and it is wonderful. Thanks to Clay and KA!

  10. jeanl0u

    Zo novice here! Does this recipe work in a Zo bread machine? What setting would I use?

    I’d suggest you make the dough using the dough setting, then take it out, shape, let rise, and bake in your regular oven. You could try baking from start to finish in the Zo, but I don’t know if it would work; give it a try, using the whole wheat setting, if you’re not averse to possible failure… PJH

  11. ymscoyle

    Would this dough be good choice for making a turkey shaped loaf for Thanksgiving? If not, can you suggest a recipe? I prefer whole/multi grain. I really appreciate any help.

    Sure, as good as any other dough; it rises evenly, and you can choose to not let it rise as much, to preserve the shape. I’m wondering how you’re going to make a turkey-shaped loaf. Do you have a mold of some kind, or are you going to freeform it? PJH

  12. tribi

    I have been using the sourdough recipe in your cookbook to make sandwich bread for years. I use a stoneware bread pan and will only bake it in my convection toaster oven, the spring and browning from that little toaster are magnificent. We slice up the whole loaf and make pb&j’s which get frozen for school lunches. The sourdough holds up really well with the defrosting, so much better than the abominations sold frozen.

    Why did you torture us with sourdough now? We’re supposed to be doing holiday baking and now everyone has to haul out their starter and feed it and do all that just because of that butter picture.

    Heh heh heh… Take a savory break! :) PJH

  13. strandjss

    I will be off from work for almost 3 weeks for the holidays and one of my planned projects is to make and master the art of sourdough. I have printed all your instructions and can’t wait to have the time to play with this. This recipe will be one I plan on trying. Thanks!

    What a great adventure! Bear in mind you can always call, chat or e-mail for sourdough (or any baking) questions. Irene @ KAF

  14. theproperty

    Great bread! Yesterday “may” not have been the best day to bake bread but this recipe didn’t know that. Forgot to add the grains, then a quick trip to town took so long that the dough had risen and started to deflate by the time I got home. I put it into a barely preheated oven before I realized that I probably should have deflated it and let it rise again….but all that didn’t seem to matter. Only problem is a flat top like a quick bread but the flavor and texture are just amazingly good. Thanks for all the good holiday ideas, always fun to read of your adventures-Happy Thanksgiving-

  15. cwolfpack3

    Can you just use oats in place of the Harvest Blend? Also, if I were to try to make this as rolls, would a 10 inch deep dish stoneware (round) do the trick, or should I shape the rolls and let them rise/bake on a pizza stone?
    We haven’t tried the recipe using oats for Harvest Grains. They would definitely absorb moisture differently, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the water added. These are best in a pan for the added structure. ~ MaryJane

  16. savi_nisa

    So I have tried this bread today it is very good, didn’t have starter but got a recipe from KAF and tried it, my bread is great, Thanks Kaf.

    Savi, Trinidad WI

    Glad it worked for you, Savi – thanks for sharing your success here. PJH

  17. courtneyhome

    Question: How do you get that open-hole, light bread. I’ve been adding some gluten but I’m not sure that’s doing the trick. i understand the gluten is removed from all-purpose flour and i use have all-purpose and half bread flour. Any suggestions to get that elastic look?

    Try a slightly “wetter” (softer) dough, and a long, slow rise; maybe overnight in the fridge, after it’s shaped? PJH

  18. Diana in Boise

    Baked this bread last weekend. I subbed a 5 Grain cereal blend and raw sunflower seeds for the harvest grains. I mixed in my Zo bread machine and luckily kept checking because I needed to add about 4 TBSP extra water to the dough to get it to become a homogeneous dough. My starter was started on 25 Jan with a start from KAF and my daughter thinks it isn’t sour enough. Any tips on getting more of a “sour” taste?

    Diana, sour flavor is increased during a long, cool rise. Try letting the dough for this bread rise in the fridge overnight before taking out and continuing with the recipe the next day; that should help increase the sourness. You could also add up to about 1/4 teaspoon of “sour salt” – citric acid. PJH

  19. beedee

    Tried this one yesterday. Did not have any sourdough so substituted an Italian Biga that I use a lot. Had to add about 3 tablespoons more water but finished with a great loaf. Thanks for this recipe.

  20. cmctwigan

    Just wondered if you could substitute white whole wheat flour for the unbleached all purpose flour? We have been baking/cooking exclusively with 100% whole grains for everything in the last year!
    You can definitely try this with WW flour. We suggest starting out at about 50/50, and see how you like the results. Then you can increase until you have a ratio you are happy with. ~ MaryJane

  21. dakgoe

    I’ve made this recipe two times in the past month. The bread was delicious both times. I did not get the rise that I wanted on the first try, so I purchased the whole grain bread enhancer and made it again using the enhancer. Oddly, it rose even less on the second attempt. I don’t know what to attribute this too. Its a nice bread, but I really had sandwiches in mind and it doesn’t rise enough for what I wanted. I will probably make this again at some point, but not for sandwiches.It could be a number of things going on, I’d suggest a call to the baker’s hotline, we can talk it through with you. ~ MaryJane

  22. Reggietan

    Baked this on Sunday and it was my first attempt using my sourdough starter. I like the taste of it and it’s a pretty easy recipe especially knowing that I do not need to “feed” my starter since it looks pretty well loved. I only have a 9 x 5 loaf pan but it still managed to rise pretty well. Now I have two favorite sandwich loaf, all thanks to you guys from KAF.

  23. kter

    Can the Rustic Sourdough Bread be baked in loaf pans? If so, would there need to be any changes in the recipe to do so?
    Thanks so much.
    Yes, you can make the rustic sourdough bread in loaf pans. Keep in mind that the crust will be somewhat different since it will be baked in a pan. I would recommend using two 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inch pans for this recipe. If you have specific questions, please give us a call on the Baker’s Hotline. ~Mel

  24. fredaned

    I have made this bread many times and really like the taste. However, I have learned after many trials and errors that my bread machine (which I use for kneading and rising only) breaks down the gluten strands, and I have a cobbled-looking top crust. If I mix it in my Kitchen Aid and finish with a little hand kneading, the loaf looks like those in the pictures. My bread machine is probably 20 years old and has a very, very long knead cycle. I think that all the kneading damages the gluten strands. I would advise letting it rise the full two hours because, as stated before, this bread has no oven spring. ExEd

  25. mom244evermom

    I love this bread. I am having a problem though. First of all you should know of my modifications…1. I follow the recipe using grams and a scale instead of volume. 2. I substituted honey for sugar 3. I substituted softened butter for vegetable oil. 4. I use vital wheat gluten instead of whole grain improver. I’m guessing none of these has anything to do with my difficulty but I wanted you to have a complete picture. Again, the taste is wonderful. I am having a problem with baking however. I let the bread rise until it’s apx. 1″ over the pan. I’d like it to go higher, but to get to that point is already past the 2 hour mark, probably in the neighborhood of 2 hours and 10-15 minutes. When I bake the bread, it collapses slightly. My guess is it’s over-rising, but I’m having difficulty accepting that as the recipe and the blog both indicate you can let it rise more than that. Help, if you have any advice, would be greatly appreciated. I do use my stand mixer and knead for 7 minutes. Thank you for all you do for us bakers!
    Honey does affect the yeast and it is sweeter than sugar, so if you are replacing with honey, you should use half the amount. The alterations you make to a recipe will affect the outcome. It is clear that your dough is rising too long if it is collapsing in the oven. Understanding the feel of a dough that is adequately proofed is your best method rather than sticking to a time since climates and conditions will vary. A dough that is airy and spongy is over-proofed and will often just collapse when you poke it with your finger. I would definitely cut back about 15 minutes on your rising time and see if that helps. ~Amy

  26. Normcat

    Question for you- first, can this recipe be doubled? And second, would it be possible to combine the dry ingredients – without the yeast – and make several bags to use through the week – the measuring seems to be the most time on summing part and I wondered if I could do that part ahead of time.

    Many thanks- I love this recipe- and the rustic sourdough.

    Yes, absolutely. So long as the yeast is kept separate (so it doesn’t start acting), you should be all set. Glad you’re liking the recipe – pretty tasty, huh? PJH

  27. Melissa

    I have struggled with this bread twice now. My sourdough starter was alive and bubbling and my first rise went well. After that, I shaped it into my loaf pan and put it in the refrigerator overnight. I removed it this morning and let it rise for several hours, but it never crested the top of the pan. It maybe increased by a third. Should I have let it rise longer? In full disclosure, I did not have potato flour, but followed the rest of the recipe exactly. I even used the bread improver!

    Doughs that are chilled in the fridge will often require a good several hours to rise fully before they bake. However, I do notice that my sourdough loaves don’t always crest my pan, though they do have plenty of oven spring! If your pan is also slightly larger than ours, it could also throw things off, so be sure to check your pan size as it really does make a difference! Best, Kim@KAF

  28. enjhagen

    This is a wonderful recipe and way to use our sourdough starter. The bread is tasty, slices beautifully, has a delicate texture, and is good as is or toasted. You’ll want to make this again and again. What a good idea listed earlier to assemble batches of the dry ingredients ahead of time. Give it a try!
    I am so glad you are enjoying working with sourdough. It is so rewarding as you have come to find out. Elisabeth

  29. Chris Summers

    Hi, I am always inspired to try a new bread recipe when I see your blog! I don’t keep a sourdough starter crock going in my fridge, but instead use the Lalvain duJour French sourdough starter. How would you modify this recipe to start from the Lalvain sponge? Thanks!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you make your sourdough sponge using 2 3/4 ounces of flour and 2 3/4 ounces of water, you should be able to substitute your sourdough sponge for ours.~Jaydl@KAF

  30. PVH

    I am a bread baker, especially sourdough and I love making it, sharing it with others and eating it. I have begun cutting back on bread intake for health reasons but I must have toast with poached eggs on Sunday morning. I bought a loaf of multigrain bread ( not a cheap one ) and I was appalled by the lack of flavor and the texture that I can only describe as “gummy.” I returned to this recipe vowing never again to buy “bread.” I did use an extra teaspoon of yeast and the KAF bread enhancer. It rose well and quickly and I look forward to Sunday morning once again. Thanks for helping me hang on to one of my favorite rituals.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re very very welcome! Once you go the way of the fresh loaf, it is certainly hard to ever go back. We hope you enjoy what I am sure will be a delicious Sunday breakfast and happy baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  31. JJW

    I made this loaf last night. I used all my unfed starter (including a small amount of rye starter!) which was more than in the recipe, but I was aiming at a 9 x 5 loaf pan and was going to have to increase some quantities to fill the larger pan in any case. I used oats and some chia seeds as the amendments, and knew the oats would take extra water. I was surprised how much water the dough demanded. I did not use any yeast at all other than the starter, and I allowed plenty of time for the ferment and the rise. The loaf turned out quite nice!

    1. Pamela


      I’ve tried this recipe four times and each time I get a flat loaf. I too am using a 9×5 sized loaf pan and have adjusted the ingredients accordingly. I thought sure I’d have a good loaf this time since the first rise doubled in 1/2 the time. The second rise in the pan looked promising at the start but it’s been 2 hours and it doesn’t seem to want to budge more than an inch below the rim. I’m so discouraged. I’m afraid my kids are going to give up on their mom baking them wholesome bread this time.

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Pamela – We really do not want you to get discouraged! We probably need some more details in order to tackle this appropriately. The great news is your dough had a great first rise. Now, try shortening the first rise so there will be more strength in the second rise. There are many more questions we should be asking you, Pamela! Please call our Baker’s Hotline, 1-877-371-BAKE. We are here at your service M-F 8am – 9pm and weekends 9am – 5pm. Elisabeth@KAF

  32. Richard

    Greetings from Utah! This recipe is great. Really good toasted, nice crumb. We are at 5600 feet so a little more water. Added a little left over sourdough dough I had kept in the fridge, so now I save a little dough from the final rise and put it away for the next batch.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You may omit the potato flour Stephen. Use fresh milk in place of the water. Milk will contribute to the texture of the bread just as a potato product will. Enjoy! This is a great recipe! Elisabeth@KAF

  33. Kathy

    Okay… I know I blew it but I need to found out how and what. :)
    I made this recipe today and doubled the recipe. I also used rice flour instead of potato flour (I didn’t see the notation to use instant potato flakes if I didn’t have the flour). So, doubled and rice flour. It had a nice sticky consistency so I thought I was okay. I used standard bread pans and the dough rose beautifully, just not to 1″ over the top of the pans. Then, it fell. So – I re-shaped it and again it rose but then fell.
    What did I do wrong?
    Thanks for your feedback.

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Kathy,
      It sounds like you are letting the dough rise too long before baking. Your bread is getting too weak to stay up any longer, and sinking back down. This blog on rising bread should be helpful to you.

  34. ilisidi

    Question: is it possible to omit the grain blend? My husband has this ‘thing’ about bread with ‘bits in it’ as he says, he really dislikes it. Me, I’d eat it every day of the week but hey, compromise. :) If so, do I need to add more flour?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can simply omit the Harvest Grain Blend without making any other adjustments to the recipe, but you might consider an alternative: adding a whole grain that adds great flavor and fiber and melts into the crumb of the loaf (without leaving any bits in the bread)! The secret weapon: quick-cooking oats that have been softened in water or milk. If you take 1/3 cup of quick-cooking oats and 1/3 cup of water (or milk for a creamier flavor) and either allow them to sit overnight or heat in a microwave for 1 minute, you can mix them right in with the wet ingredients for a sneaky whole grain fix. I bet your husband won’t even notice! Good luck and happy (whole grain) baking! –Kye@KAF

  35. Pamela

    I’m attempting to adjust the recipe for a 9-5/8×5-1/2×2-3/4 size pan. I have four of these great old pans that have held up beautifully over time and generations of use. My dough is much more dense than what appears in the blog looking very moist and even sticking to the sides of the metal bowl. I hope it turns out well. This is my third try, first with the newly calculated measurements.

    I’ve seen other recipe sites that allow you to adjust the number of servings and the recipe is calculated and adjusted accordingly. Is there any change King Arthur might institute a program like that? I love this site and the recipes I’ve tried so far but that feature would be a GREAT help for those of us with odd sized pans.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Pamela – That sounds like a great idea and I will certainly add that to our Customer Wish List! Elisabeth@KAF

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