When this month's Twelve Loaves theme was announced, I will admit that I was a little... confused. The theme was "Clean Slate." The idea of that theme was that, after all of the indulgences of the holidays and the end of the year, this would be a month to bake fresh and simple.
Sounds straightforward, right? Then I saw some of the submissions prepared by the hosting crew. And while they all look delicious, several of them were not what I consider simple. And I bake a lot of bread products.
But I suppose that simple and fresh and starting with a clean slate can mean different things to different people, and, to be honest, that is the good thing about a challenge like this - that it is open to interpretation and that each baker is free to choose something that inspires them.
For me, hearing clean slate, fresh, simple... I was thinking as few ingredients as possible. Back to the traditional methods of bread baking. Which automatically made me think of sourdough. But I was also thinking of expanding simple to the uses of the bread - and what better, simple meal, incorporating bread, than a sandwich?
So I decided to try my hand at this sourdough sandwich bread.
The dough came together relatively easily, but was very, very stiff. I had intended to knead this loaf entirely by hand, but wound up needing my KitchenAid to help me out.
On a side note - little miss had a friend over while I was preparing this dough, and this friend had never made homemade bread. She was so excited to watch, and even more excited when I told her that (if she washed her hands...) she could help me knead it. Talk about back to basics - nothing more fun than passing on an appreciation of fresh, homemade goodness to kids!
Anyway, once the dough was fully kneaded, it was time to let it rest and rise. Overnight. Again - back to basics, one of which is time.
In the morning, the dough is deflated, shaped, and placed into a loaf pan, where it rises yet again.
And then, almost 24 hours after beginning, it is time to bake.
The finished loaf smelled delicious but was much heavier than I'd expected! But the fully developed sourdough flavor is really great, and makes for a fun change from my usual sandwich loaf.
And it made for some super delicious sandwiches.
I will say, it worked best with the delicious turkey and cheese sandwich you see above. It does not make good PB&J bread. But it was decent for grilled cheese, so not too shabby.
And feel free to check out all of this month's submissions here.
Sourdough Sandwich Loaf
(from Sour Salty Bitter Sweet)
(makes one loaf)
2 cups 100% hydration sourdough starter, refreshed
3 cups flour (all purpose, bread, wheat or any combination you choose) (I used bread flour)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons oil (I used canola - any liquid fat will work(
2 teaspoons sugar (or other sweetener of your choice)
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir until most of the flour is moistened and it begins to form a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Scrape the dough onto a rolling mat or lightly-floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary to prevent it from sticking to you too much. If it’s very sticky, let it rest for 10-15 minutes, which allows the flour to absorb more moisture, and then continue kneading. Knead for 10-15 minutes total, or until the dough forms a smooth ball with a taut surface and a small piece of dough stretched between your fingers forms a membrane that you can see light through(i.e. a “baker’s windowpane”).
My dough was very stiff and I needed my stand mixer to help me out - just use your dough hook attachment.
Place the kneaded dough in lightly-oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 3+ hours, or until doubled in volume. Rising time will vary based on your sourdough starter. I let it rise overnight, although if you don’t want any sourdough flavor, you might want to limit it to 5-6 hrs. One way to test if it’s risen enough: if you make an indentation in the risen dough with your finger, it should take more than a minute to “heal.”
Punch the dough down to gently deflate it, then turn it onto a clean surface and knead a few times. Shape your loaf and place into a greased loaf pans. Let rise another 2-3 hours, or until doubled again - it should be rise above the rim of the pan.
Preheat the oven at 350F for 15-20 min before baking. Slash the risen loaf down the middle with a sharp knife, if desired (I didn't). Bake 35 min or until crust is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when knocked on the bottom.
Cool on wire racks, allowing the loaf to cool completely before slicing.
3 weeks ago