Sandwich loaf

If you once “go on your travels,” it’s likely that some habitual comfort foods won’t be available in the place where you land. For me, one of those items1 is sourdough bread. Several years ago, I worked up a recipe based on one published by FoodGeek. Mieko was not a fan. She wasn’t fond of tart flavors, but she was tolerant because of my love of them. No, the sticking point with the recipe was the time it required. The wild yeast culture (in my hands at least) was fickle, and even on a good run with a dough set from early morning, the final bake often finished in the wee hours of the morning, well past my bedtime. She worried for my physical (and mental) health on those days.

Now in the house alone, and retired with an unseemly amount of time on my hands, I’m baking more often. And she was right. This is a version that uses a small amount of commercial yeast to force the dough to rise, for a reasonable and more predictable baking cycle.


200g whole wheat flour
100g rye flour
300g water @ 40°C
What there is. Maybe 70g? sourdough starter
Autolyse extra
850g white bread flour
300g water @ 40°C
100g milk @ 40°C
50g sugar
15g salt
50g white bread flour
80g water @ 40°C
120g milk @ 40°C
Activated yeast
1tsp dry yeast
50ml water @ 40°C


  • Mixing bowls (several, large and small)
  • Rising tub and warm spot (I use a tupperware box immerse in water warmed to 40°C in a Shuttle Chef pot)
  • Oven (there isn’t a stove- or counter-top workaround for this recipe)
  • Spatulas (dough can be sticky, two are better than one)
  • Bench scrapers (see above)
  • Scales, measuring spoons
  • Baking tins (the two I use for this recipe are 10.5x12x25cm pullman tins)


The steps below call for a kneading machine, just because that’s what I use at home. You can equally well do the mixing manually! Just be ready to spend some time scraping and rubbing the sticky dough off your hands. In order: (1) the autolyse ingredients can be mixed up by hand; (2) the dough is loose enough that it can be mixed by hand, then folded (from each of four edges across the dough) at thirty-minute intervals three times or so in lieu of kneading. After that, let it rise until doubled before shaping.


Mix the Levain ingredients and set in a warm place.


First thing: be sure to set aside a bit of the levain mix for use as starter in the next bake!

Combine the Autolyse extras and the Levain in the kneader and run for a few minutes until a dough is formed. Set the kneading bowl itself or a bowl into which the dough is dumped in a warm place for an hour, or more to get more sourness (for a “warm spot” I use an oven set to 40°C, maintaining warmth is important).


Mix the Tangzhong ingredients in a saucepan, and warm over low heat, stirring constantly (a small whisk is handy for this) until it thickens somewhat. Remove from heat and let it cool while the autolyse is doing its thing.


Mix the Yeast ingredients and set aside to begin bubbling while the autolyse continues. You can add a pinch of sugar to encourage it if you like.


Combine the autolyse dough, the tanzhong, and the yeast in the kneader. If the dough has been left in the kneader for the autolyse step, tug the bottom away from the rotor first, to avoid stalling at a cold start. Run the kneader for about 12 minutes to make a loose and sticky dough. Dump the dough out into a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled (again I use an oven set to 40°C for this).

Shape and bake

Grease the tins (or line them with reusable silicon baking cloth to simplify cleanup). Divide the dough (and if you’re mechanically obsessive like me, weigh and adjust them to be equal). Put some bread flour in a cup to dip fingers into while working with the loose dough. Shape the dough in a way that works for you, but these are my steps in excruciating detail:

  • Lay the dough on the unfloured working surface.
  • Run a bench scraper around the dough in a swirl motion, using a second scraper as necessary to strip off any dough that sticks to the first. Repeat the motion until the dough forms a ball on the work surface.
  • Dust the dough ball by sprinkling on pinches of flour.
  • Pat the ball to spread the dusting and form a skin that can at least be touched without sticking.
  • Dust a bit around the ball, and slide the flour under the ball a little with slides of a bench scraper.
  • Use a pair of bench scrapers to flip the dough ball.
  • Dust the “underside” of the ball like as above.
  • Dusting fingers and rubbing off stuck dough as necessary, spread the dough out in a big square on the work surface.
  • Fold in two opposite edges of the square to meet in the middle, sliding flour underneath to loosen as necessary (it will want to stick to the work surface).
  • I’ll pound on the rectangle after folding to remove air bubbles.
  • Roll up the rectangle, with the seam in the center of the roll, again using the bench scraper to pull the dough away from the work surface and necessary. Try to let as little dough as possible stick to fingers while rolling, but that’s gonna happen.
  • Pull the ends of the roll over the closing seam of the roll, and flip the roll to put the seam on the bottom.
  • Slide some more flour dusting under the roll and loosen it from the work surface. Then do the Hail Mary thing, lifing the roll in dusted fingers, tossing it a bit while moving to keep it from sticking, and drop it into its tin.
  • Scrape and rub crumbs of dough from fingers, then do the other dough ball.

When the tins are populated with dough, set it to rise in a warm place. For me, the rise to the top of the pullman tins takes about 90 minutes, with a good margin of error on either side. You’ll need to keep an eye on it.

When the bread has risen, heat the oven to 180°C, and stick the tins in to bake when it’s ready. I bake them for 30 minutes, then boost the temperature to 220°C for ten minutes more. That’s just my habit, though, you may find a better pattern.

If you try this, let me know. Happy to edit and credit.

  1. In addition to rhubarb, chunky peanut butter, cottage cheese, and cultured buttermilk. There I’ve gone and done it. After writing that I’ll be pining for days. ↩︎