How to Make Simple Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread
This simple whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread is the kind of loaf you always want to keep around. It’s got great flavor and lots of nutrition, making it your staple all-purpose loaf of bread.
Though sourdough starter can be used in many different kinds of recipes, mastering a good loaf of sourdough bread is one of the best ways to make the most of home sourdough baking. You can never go wrong with sliced bread.
But when you’re first getting the hang of sourdough, you can turn out some pretty bad bricks. I mean loaves.
Making a basic sourdough sandwich bread isn’t difficult, but it is different than making yeast bread. The dough behaves differently and needs to be mixed with a different texture in mind. Those differences are usually where bakers make a wrong turn and end up with hard, dense loaves.
But if you can keep a few key differences in mind while mixing up your sourdough bread, you’ll end up with something soft, delicious, and perfectly crusted. Not a hard brick that could break your teeth.
You don’t have to raise your hand if you’ve been there, but I remember my first sourdough loaves and my hand is up, too.
Now that I’ve been making sourdough bread for years, I can assure you that it’s more than possible to make a delicious whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread. My recipe continues to be reliable, easy, and just right for sandwiches, snacks, French toast, and anywhere else that calls for basic sliced bread.
It might take a little bit of practice, but learning to make this simple whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread will be well worth your efforts!
The Big Difference Between Yeasted and Sourdough Bread Doughs
The main difference between sourdough bread dough and yeasted bread dough is the difference in texture. With yeast dough, you end up with a dough that doesn’t stick to your hands and is really smooth when you knead it.
Sourdough bread dough is smooth, too, but it needs a lot more moisture than yeast bread dough.
When I first started baking sourdough bread, that was my biggest mistake, and it’s a pretty common one. I thought my sourdough bread dough should feel like the bread dough I made with baker’s yeast, so I’d add more flour. When my bread didn’t rise well, I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong.
The answer? Sourdough bread dough that doesn’t have enough moisture bakes into dense, hard loaves. Bricks.
A good whole grain sourdough dough will be almost sticky after it mixes. You’ll probably think that it needs more flour, but resist the temptation! Let it rise and you’ll be amazed at how much the dough will firm as the whole grain flour absorbs the extra moisture.
If it’s still too sticky after rising and you can’t handle it, then add a bit more flour as you shape the loaves.
Simple Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread Recipe
This is my faithful sourdough sandwich loaf recipe, including step-by-step photos. At the bottom of this post, you’ll also find a handy printable recipe card. Happy baking!
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. That means that if you purchase through one of my links, your cost is the same, but I can earn a commission. Thanks!
Sourdough Bread Ingredients
- 7-9 cups whole wheat flour (though often substitute a cup or so of whole oat flour, ground in my WonderMill)
- 2 teaspoons quality salt (I like Real Salt)
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 1 cup active sourdough starter
- 3 cups water
- 1-2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
Instructions for Homemade Sourdough Sandwich Bread
1. Place 6 cups flour, salt, and flax in the bowl of a large, heavy-duty mixer along with the liquid ingredients. I love using my WonderMix for this because it handles all of the ingredients like a champ. You can mix by hand, but it will take patience, muscle power, and the ability to not get annoyed with lots of dough on your hands.
2. Start mixing the dough on your mixer’s dough setting. With my stand mixer, I pour the liquid ingredients into the mixing bowl first, then add the dry ingredients, and turn it on to mix. When I used a different stand mixer, I slowly poured the liquid ingredients in while the mixer was running with the dry ingredients in the bowl. You’ll want to mix the dough according to your machine’s directions.
3. At this point, the dough will be very sticky. Add additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time with the mixer running, until the dough is still moist, slightly sticky, but holding together well. It will start to pull away from the mixer sides. You should also be able to see it stretching as the mixer kneads it. Remember: When in doubt, err on the side of a wetter dough.
4. Scrape the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and cover with either a wet towel or plastic wrap to hold in moisture. Then, allow it to rise for 6-10 hours, or overnight. The rising time will depend on how warm your room is and the nature of your sourdough starter.
5. Once the dough has fully risen, punch it down and divide it into two equal sections. If the dough feels stiff at this point, gradually knead in more water until it feels smooth, moist, but not really sticky. Shape into loaves.
6. Butter 2 large loaf pans and place the loaves in the pans. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. This usually takes 4-5 hours, but can vary.
7. Preheat the oven to 400. When the dough has doubled and the oven is hot, bake the loaves for 50 minutes. Remove the bread from the pans and cool them on a wire rack before slicing, buttering, and enjoying.
How to Store Homemade Sourdough Bread
Real sourdough bread will usually go stale before it molds. But if you store it in sealed plastic bags on the counter, it can mold from the sealed-in moisture. So don’t do that.
I store our bread out in the open on our kitchen counter. When we slice it, we leave it cut-side down on the cutting board to keep it fresh.
If you want to prevent it from going stale too fast, you can wrap it in a kitchen towel or keep it in a fabric bread bag.
But really, bread like this doesn’t stay on the counter long no matter how it’s stored! It disappears rather quickly, especially when paired with herbal chai tea or herb-infused hot cocoa.
You can also freeze your homemade sourdough bread. I like to wrap my loaves in waxed paper or parchment paper, then seal them up tightly in a heavy-duty freezer bag with the excess air pressed out before sealing.
Now, armed with a couple of easy tips and this trusted recipe, you’ll be well on your way to making an incredible whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread.
Your brick-making days are over.
Have you had success making homemade sourdough sandwich bread?
Simple Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread
This faithful whole grain sourdough sandwich loaf recipe has a wonderful texture and delicious, deep flavor.
- 7-9 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons quality sea salt
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 1 cup active sourdough starter
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses (optional)
- In a heavy-duty stand mixer, combine 6 cups of flour with remaining ingredients and mix to form a wet batter according to your mixer's instructions.
- Add additional flour, 1/4-1/2 cup at a time, until a sticky dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Set aside to rise for around 8 hours, or overnight. Rise times can vary.
- After the dough has risen completely and doubled in size, punch it down and divide into two pieces. Shape each piece into a loaf. If the dough feels stiff and firm, gradually knead in more water while shaping. If it feels too sticky, add in just enough extra flour to shape.
- Place the shaped loaves into buttered loaf pans. Cover again with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise and double in size for around 4 hours. Final rise time can also vary.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Then place the risen loaves in the oven and bake for 50 minutes.
- Remove the loaves from the pans to cool.
You can substitute some of the whole wheat flour for whole oat, whole rye, whole barley, or other whole grain flours. This can change the dough's texture and final rise, though, so only substitute 1-2 cups of the wheat flour.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 36 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 742Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 124mgCarbohydrates: 155gFiber: 23gSugar: 2gProtein: 29g
Nutrition data is estimated based on 36 servings.
When using left over starter do you have to refresh it before you can use it?
I usually do, Colin, unless I just fed it the day before. Hope that helps!
This looks so yummy! Can I leave out the flax, or will it change the recipe too much? Thankyou!
Hi Abbie! You should be just fine leaving out the flax. Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don’t. You might need just a fuzz more flour (such an exact amount, I know 😉 ) if you leave out the flax, so if the dough feels too much like batter, you can adjust as needed.
How can a single slice of bread be 742 calories?
That’s a great question, Eileen! 😉 The nutrition info is just an estimate based on the ingredients and servings I put in, but I have *no* idea how it came up with that number! Seems a bit wonky to me, too. I can’t give you an exact calorie number, but I can tell you this is a very yummy bread made with nutrient-rich ingredients and traditional methods that help you body use what’s in it.
Thanks for the recipe. Can I let the dough rise in the fridge overnight? Then, letting it come to room temp in the morning before finishing the recipe?
Sure, you can do that! It may not rise enough in the fridge overnight, so just make sure it doubles before shaping and doing the final proof. 🙂
Thank you so much for the tips on making starter, I did, it worked! And thank you for the bread recipie. Made it for the first time and it turned out absolutely fabulous! Was wondering if you can use unbleached flor to make this recipie. Have a bag that needs to be used up.
Yay, Dee! I love that you have your starter going and are enjoying yummy sourdough bread. You can definitely use unbleached flour to make this recipe. The dough will behave a little differently (it actually tends to rise better since the bran and germ aren’t there to weigh it down) and you’ll likely need to add more flour than when using whole wheat. But other than those differences, you can definitely make this with unbleached flour. Have fun!
I have a question about the sour dough recipe. Do you have to use molasses in the recipe or is this just a preference? Thanks for any information.
You can leave it out! I like the flavor and texture it adds, but you can omit or substitute with some honey, plain molasses, or maple syrup.
Hi, I’m making this bread for the first time and this first batch was very yummy! So thank you for sharing your experience. But in the process I used up almost all of the starter (which a friend had given me). About a table spoon was left in the jar. I added a half cup of fresh ground hard white wheat and reverse osmosis water to that and it seemed to start right back up. But now (2 days later, having fed it twice a day each day) it’s less active and smells different. When I got the first bit I used in the bread it smelled very bread-y (kind of beer-like) now it smells more like wine. How do I fix it?
So glad you got to enjoy some yummy bread! With your starter, it sounds like it’s a little sluggish right now since there wasn’t much starter left after baking. You can try leaving it out on the counter for a day or two, feeding it once or twice a day depending on the weather and how it responds. It should perk back up after it ferments more thoroughly.
Another possibility is that you’re using a different flour than your friend used, so the starter will have a different smell. But since you said it seems less active, I’m more prone to think it just needs a little more time fermenting.
Here’s a trick for the future: If I ever don’t have quite enough active starter for a recipe, I’ll pour out half of what I need, but make sure to leave at least 1/2 cup active starter in the jar. Then, I’ll add flour and water to the starter I poured out and let it ferment on the counter for 4-6 hours, or however long it takes to get really bubbly, and use that in the recipe. I’ll feed the starter in the jar, too.
Hope that helps!
Thanks for sharing your recipe! I just recently started my sourdough starter and am experimenting with different recipes. Yours looks much simpler than the others I was trying, I can’t wait to try it out tomorrow. I probably missed it somewhere, but I couldn’t seem to find how many loaves to shape out of it? I saw two pictured, but then I saw it makes 36 servings so that made me wonder if it is three loaves?
I shape these into two large loaves. If you loaf pans aren’t very big, you can probably get three loaves out of this. Enjoy!
I’ve halved this recipe to make one loaf and not used the flax meal just all wholemeal bread flour, using the smaller quantity. The dough seems very dry compared to my other recipes and not sticky. Perhaps it is just a different flour and I need more water or starter perhaps? Do you use wholemeal bread flour or all-purpose wholemeal flour? Is your wholemeal bread the equivalent of the french T110 or T80?
I’ll see how it goes tomorrow. I’m keen to find a more sandwich style sourdough recipe that my fussier children will also eat.
Thank you for posting this recipe. .
Hello Simone. I’m sorry I can’t help you with the flour types. I’m not familiar with them. I grind my own wheat berries at home with a grain mill, so it’s whole meal (or whole grain, as we call it) wheat. I use Prairie Gold hard white spring wheat berries, if that helps.
So much can go into a dough’s texture, including the air humidity and how thick or thin your sourdough starter is. When my dough feels too dry and stiff, I knead in more water. I’ve done this after the first rise, even, and it helps prevent it from being too dense.
I hope your next batch turns out better!
I love this recipe. I’ve had to adjust temperature and baking time slightly for my oven. It is delicious and turns out beautiful each time. Thank you for the wonderful instructions on here and the starter pages.
I’m so glad you enjoy this recipe! I just made a batch of three loaves yesterday and I’m down to one. It’s still a favorite here, even after a few years!
Can the ground flax be omitted ?
Hi Sara! Yes, you can omit the ground flax without trouble. You might need to add a small bit of extra flour, but depending on room humidity, it may not make a difference at all. Happy baking!
I have a hand mixer or just arm strength. Will that work. Also will regular flour work??
Hi Donna! You can use plain white flour if you don’t have whole grain, but you’ll likely need to add more since whole grain flour absorbs more moisture. Your hand mixer will probably struggle to manage this much dough, but you can definitely use arm strength and elbow grease to mix it! That’s what our great grandmothers did, right? 🙂 I’d love to hear how your bread turns out!
Hi, Kristen, I’ve recently discovered your blog through your ebook on essential oil myths. I’m looking forward to reading more from you!
Just a quick question about this recipe—what is the molasses for? Just for colour, or is it necessary for the dough to rise? Because I like this recipe, but have no access to molasses or anything of the sort, I’m afraid, so I’d have to substitute something else in or just omit it altogether. I don’t use any sort of sugar in any of my sourdough breads, but then they are coarse rustic loaves and I’d like a more sandwichy alternative to have on hand!
Hello Lara, delighted to have you here! The molasses in this recipe is for a few things, but none are essential. It adds a deep color and a bit more flavor, provides extra iron, and helps keep the bread moist for slicing. Your dough will absolutely rise without it, though. And in fact, when I happen to run out at home I will just add a little honey, maybe a spoonful of brown sugar, or I’ll just skip it entirely. I hope that helps!
Thanks, Kristen—just one more thing: what is the size of the loaf tins you use?
Sure, Lara. My pans are 9×5″ glass loaf pans. Enjoy!
Thanks for the tips:) may I please have the recipe of the bread pictured in the post..Why Bake with Sourdough?
Hey Rachel! Actually, the pictures I used for that post were just stock photos. Since I wasn’t sharing a recipe of mine, I didn’t take my own pictures for that one. It looks to me like it could be a similar recipe, maybe with some nuts or seeds added in and then baked on a flat sheet and not a loaf pan. But that’s a total guess!