Clay's Multigrain Sourdough Sandwich Bread

This unusual sandwich bread 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.

Our thanks to reader Clay Blackwell of Lynchburg, Virginia, who shared this recipe with us.

Prep
15 mins
Bake
30 to 35 mins
Total
3 hrs 45 mins
Yield
1 loaf
Clay's Multigrain Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients — in a bowl, the bowl of an electric mixer, or the pan of your bread machine — and mix and 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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Lightly grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" bread pan. Gently deflate the risen dough, and shape it into a log. Place it in the pan, cover it lightly, 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack, to cool completely.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Don’t have any starter? Here’s a recipe for homemade sourdough starter. If you're making it from scratch, you'll need to feed it for 5 to 7 days before it’s ready for baking. Want a head start? Purchase our classic fresh sourdough starter – it’ll be ready for baking about 24 hours after it arrives at your door. Looking for tips, techniques, and all kinds of great information about sourdough baking? Find what you need in our sourdough baking guide.

  • Since sourdough starters vary quite a bit in consistency, from thin as popover batter to thick as soft dough, it's difficult to give an exact amount of flour. If your starter is very thin, you may need an additional 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour, beyond the 1 1/2 cups, to make a dough that's sticky, yet still stiff enough to hold its shape.
  • If you find you haven't left yourself enough time to complete this bread on schedule, shape and place in a loaf pan; cover the pan, and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 18 hours. The bread will rise slowly in the fridge. Next day, let the loaf rest at room temperature for a couple of hours, or till it's as risen as you like; then bake as directed.
  • Doesn't sourdough starter need to be fed before using? Well, not necessarily. 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.