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 grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. 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

  2. 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

  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. 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.

  5. 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

    1. Cami

      This has commercial yeast in it so it will have sourdough flavor but it will have a nice crumb because of the yeast added and it is quicker. Just make sure not to over proof the dough 🙂

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