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Butter Top Sourdough Sandwich Bread

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I’m not really sure why this recipe for traditionally fermented, butter top sourdough wasn’t the first recipe on my blog.

A collage of butter top sourdough loaves with text overlay.

It is by far one of the most, if not the most important recipe in my kitchen. I make at least one loaf of sourdough sandwich bread a week and I haven’t bought bread regularly in over 5 years. I’ve had my sourdough starter since 2003 but I only perfected this sandwich loaf about 5 years ago.

A loaf of butter top sourdough sliced to show the crumb.

 

The crumb is soft, fluffy, and chewy, with a nice caramelized crust. The butter top is my little signature and gives the crust a beautiful crackle appearance and toasted buttery flavor.

A loaf of sliced butter top sourdough.

The butter top came to be when I decided to start greasing my baking pans. I don’t like a lot of extra, unfermented flour hanging on the crust so greasing the pan seemed like a better solution. Of course I used butter and I’m so glad I did.

A loaf of butter top sourdough sliced to show the crumb.

This amazing sourdough sandwich bread is not just for sandwiches (although, it’s great for my Sourdough, Sharp Cheddar, and Thyme Monte Cristo). It is also perfect toasted with extra butter and makes one of our all-time family favorites, sourdough French toast. I hope you will try it!

To Make Butter Top Sourdough Sandwich Bread:

Recipe yields one large loaf.

Gently mix all the ingredients by hand or by machine until a smooth dough forms. The dough should be soft and tacky but not sticky. You may need to add a bit of water or flour at this point, one pinch at a time. Rest the dough for 5 minutes. Continue to knead the dough until it’s elastic and passes the windowpane test.

The windowpane test is taking a bit of dough and flattening it between your fingers. Pull and stretch the dough until you can see light coming through it. If you can do this without the dough ripping, then the proper amount of gluten has been formed.

Knead the dough gently by hand to form a nice tight ball. Place the dough ball in a covered bowl to proof. During the winter and cooler temperature days I let this recipe proof overnight. During the summer months the dough is typically ready for the next step after 6 to 8 hours.

Once the dough has at least doubled in volume remove it to a floured surface and pat it down into a disk. Try not to go overboard with the flour or the dough won’t seal well. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Place your loaf pan on the stove burner and melt 1 tablespoon of butter directly in the pan. Once the butter has melted remove the pan from the heat and roll the pan to coat the entire inner surface. Set the pan aside.

Here is my favorite cast iron loaf pan:

Form a loaf with your dough by folding the top to the center and pressing it to seal the dough along the seam. Then fold the bottom up to the center and press it to seal again. Pull the side-ends of the dough up and over and seal them along the seam. (I’m hoping to get a little video clip of this step to include soon.)

Rest the dough seam side down for a minute. Then turn the dough over and gather the remaining flour from the work surface on the top side of the dough. Place the dough into the buttered loaf pan top side down and then flip it over. This should leave you with a nice buttery top.

Cover the pan and let the dough have a nice long second ferment until it’s at least doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Once preheated, bake the loaf for 30 minutes. When the bread is done remove it from the oven and set out a cooling rack. Remove the bread from the loaf pan and let it cool completely on the rack before slicing.

A loaf of butter top sourdough sliced to show the crumb.

Butter Top Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Butter Top Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 40 minutes

A traditionally fermented sourdough loaf perfect for sandwiches, toast, French toast, and more!

Ingredients

For the Pan

Instructions

  1. Gently mix all the ingredients by hand or by machine until a smooth dough forms. The dough should be soft and tacky but not sticky. You may need to add a bit of water or flour at this point one pinch at a time. Rest the dough for 5 minutes. Continue to knead the dough until it's elastic and passes the windowpane test.
  2. The windowpane test is taking a bit of dough and flattening it between your fingers. Pull and stretch the dough until you can see light coming through the dough. If you can do this without the dough ripping then the proper amount of gluten has been formed.
  3. Knead the dough gently by hand to form a nice tight ball. Place the dough ball in a covered bowl to proof. During the winter and cooler temperature days I let this recipe proof overnight. Durning the summer months the dough is typically ready for the next step after 6 to 8 hours.
  4. Once the dough has at least doubled in volume remove it to a floured surface and pat it down into a disk. Try not to go overboard with the flour or the dough won't seal well. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Place your loaf pan on the stove burner and melt 1 tablespoon of butter directly in the pan. Once the butter has melted remove the pan from the heat and roll the pan to coat the entire inner surface. Set the pan aside.
  6. Form a loaf with your dough by folding the top to the center and pressing it to seal the dough along the seam. Then fold the bottom up to the center and press it to seal again. Pull the side-ends of the dough up and over and seal them along the seam. (I'm hoping to get a little video clip of this step to include soon.)
  7. Rest the dough seam side down for a minute. Then turn the dough over and gather the remaining flour from the work surface on the top side of the dough. Place the dough into the buttered loaf pan top side down and then flip it over. This should leave you with a nice buttery top.
  8. Cover the pan and let the dough have a nice long second ferment until it's at least doubled in size.
  9. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Once preheated, bake the loaf for 30 minutes. When the bread is done remove it from the oven and set out a cooling rack. Remove the bread from the loaf pan and let it cool completely on the rack before slicing.
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