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Sourdough Bread Machine Bread: A Simple Loaf Good for Sandwiches

Preview: This sourdough bread machine bread recipe makes a great tasting simple white loaf. Mix it with the DOUGH cycle of a bread machine and bake in the oven. Because the recipe also includes commercial yeast, you can bake this in 3½ hours.

Like making Greek yogurt, there must be millions of ways to make sourdough bread, and plenty of people willing to tell you how. Who do you listen to? Does it have to be so complicated?

I played with sourdough starter years ago. When it turned colors, I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble or guilt, so out it went. This time around I’m determined to keep it simple. That’s why we’re using the bread machine for this recipe.

Please note: This recipe contains instant yeast for a quicker turnaround– about 3½ hours. Your bread still needs to cool for an additional hour. I’ll share my trick for doing that at the end.

sourdough bread machine bread sliced on a tray
Mixing in a bread machine and baking in an oven ensures an evenly baked product, a thin but chewy crust, and beautiful browning.

Where can I get sourdough starter, or how do I make it?

  • Sourdough bread makers love to share their starters. Keep your ear to the ground.
  • You can buy dry cultures on Amazon that will require some time to rehydrate and develop. King Arthur Flour sells sourdough starter that is fresh and ready to use when you open the package. Haven’t tried it myself.
  • Make it yourself. Recipes and formulas abound on the internet. You can see my method for making a starter on this post about uses for yogurt whey or on this recipe for Chewy Sourdough Dinner Rolls. You don’t have to use whey in your starter as I do. Unflavored yogurt or water will also work to get things started.
bubbly and spongy sourdough starter made with yogurt whey
This sourdough starter is ready to use–bubbly on top with a spongy texture throughout. Still not sure? Drop a small spoonful of starter into a bowl of water. It should float.

What to expect from this bread machine sourdough recipe:

  • TASTE: The level of sourness will depend mostly on your starter. The recipe is basic. See below for a modification of this recipe to make your bread taste sourer.
  • TEXTURE: As you can see by the pictures, the texture of this recipe is somewhere between a finely-textured regular white bread and a chewy artisan loaf with lots of big holes. If you bake this dough in a loaf pan, the texture will be soft, fairly uniform, and slightly chewy.

    Free-form loaves as seen below are baked on a cookie sheet and tend to have the same soft texture with a few larger holes.
  • CRUST: I tried to keep this recipe simple. Only a loaf pan is required along with a pan of hot water to create steam in your oven. A floury top adds an artisan look. Keep reading for more ways to modify the crust.
  • FAT: The recipe doesn’t specify any fat. If you want a softer and less chewy crumb, add 1-½ tablespoons of softened butter or oil when adding the wet ingredients to the bread machine pan. The fat will also help to prolong freshness.


How do I get a nice crust on my sourdough loaf?

When baking in the oven, the crust can be manipulated with baking techniques and/or glazes. Here are some options:

  • Bake your bread in a loaf pan. The crust will be crispy at first but soften with time. Covering the top with flour before slashing gives a professional look.
  • Shape the dough into a free-form loaf and bake on a cookie sheet. The crust will come out of the oven crusty but will soften within hours.
  • Bake bread in a preheated Dutch oven or another covered pan for a crispy and very dark finish. This method takes longer and more attention but gives your bread a bakery-made look. I won’t go into details here since this is meant to be a simple loaf suitable for beginners.
  • Brush bread with a glaze made of 1 egg and a teaspoon of water or milk. This treatment gives your bread a beautiful dark golden color, a shiny finish, and a crispy crust that softens to slightly chewy when cool. My favorite for this bread!
  • Place a pan of boiling water into the oven on the lowest rack under your bread. In addition, spritz the bread with a mister (spray bottle) a couple of times in the first 5 minutes of baking. (Do it quickly so not much heat will escape the oven.) This will make a crusty finish that comes close to using a Dutch oven.

Ingredients and substitutions:

ingredients for bread machine sourdough loaf
  • STARTER: Hopefully, you already have a starter. When you are ready to mix up your bread, it should be spongy and bubbly. Even if your starter is not a robust as you would like, you can still use it in this recipe since it has bread machine yeast added to it.

    Measuring starter can be tricky. For my recipes, I recommend a digital scale. Without scales, stir down the starter and use a measuring cup.

    The starter I make and use has 100% hydration. Whenever feeding my starter, I use equal weights of flour and water. For example, for every 1 cup of flour (120 gr) add 1/2 cup of water (120 gr). If your starter is different, no problem. With a bread machine, you can easily adjust the dough after a quick peek inside.

    Watching your machine as it kneads is more important than ever when baking with a sourdough starter. Open the lid and look to see if your dough needs more liquid or flour after the dough has been kneading for about 15 minutes.

    The goal is for the dough to be tacky, stick to the sides as it kneads, then pull away cleanly. (See video.) If it’s too wet, add more flour; if too dry add more water. Add only 1 tablespoon at a time and wait for the dough to completely absorb it before adding more.
  • WATER: My readers know I like spring water because it has no chlorine to fight with the yeast. Sometimes I use yogurt whey. If you don’t have either, tap water usually works.
  • SUGAR: Granulated sugar is what I use for this recipe. You could leave it out, but it helps the bread rise and improves the flavor.
  • SALT: Use table salt or sea salt. I prefer sea salt because no iodine is added. If you only have Kosher salt, add an additional ¼ teaspoon.

    If you are trying to cut back on salt, you can experiment with lesser amounts. But don’t cut it out completely.

    Salt and yeast work together. Without it, yeast will go crazy and act like a teenager with no rules. Just when you need them the most, the yeasty bodies will be sleeping because they’ve exhausted themselves unnecessarily and won’t do their job.
  • FLOUR: This recipe specifies bread flour but unbleached all-purpose flour will also work. You might try half bread flour and half all-purpose. Experiment to see what you like better.

    If you want to add whole wheat flour, replace 2 tablespoons of bread flour with 2 tablespoons of wheat flour to start with. Adding too much whole wheat will make your loaf dense.
  • YEAST: Use bread machine yeast, instant yeast, or rapid-rise yeast in bread machine recipes. They’re interchangeable. If you only have active dry yeast on hand, you can use it (even without dissolving) but it may work a little slower. Allow extra time for proofing, or add an extra ¼ teaspoon.

sourdough bread machine bread sliced in a wooden bowl

FAQ about Sourdough Bread in a Bread Machine:

How do I know when my starter is ready?

Look for lots of bubbles on top and a spongy texture throughout. This is easier to observe if you use a glass jar or bowl. The smell should be yeasty like the smell of a beer factory.

Why do I have to throw away some of my starter?

Unless you make bread every day, you will soon have sourdough starter running out your ears. Think about sourdough starter as a little bubble machine. Want bubbles? Give it fuel. Once the bubble machine has blazed through the fuel, what’s left of the fuel (think exhaust) won’t make bubbles even though it still tastes good. See this post with a more scientific answer to this question.

You don’t have to throw it away. Save it in a separate jar in the fridge for recipes using “sourdough discard.” It will last at least two weeks.

I don’t have any yeast. Can I just leave it out and depend on the sourdough starter to work its magic?

Sourdough bread recipes without yeast take a LONG time. Most bread machines aren’t set up for that kind of waiting so they must have additional yeast.

Can I bake this recipe in my bread machine?

You can try, but baking in the machine will require some compromises. The crust, texture, and appearance won’t be the same. A bread machine only heats to around 300˚F. At that temperature, the crust tends to be more like cardboard and rather tough. Read more about baking in a machine vs. baking in an oven.

Why is my bread machine sourdough bread dense?

Perhaps the dough was too dry (did you measure your flour accurately?), the ambient temperature was too cool (throw a blanket over your machine), or the bread didn’t have enough time to rise before baking whether you baked in your oven or tried to do it in the machine.

Baker’s secrets:

#1

Jumpstart cold sourdough starter with a bowl of warm water.

Set your jar or bowl of starter inside a bowl of warm water to gently warm it before or after feeding it. If your starter is active, it will be bubbling in no time.

#2

All ingredients should be at room temperature in the bread machine pan before starting the DOUGH cycle.

thermometer

Starting with cold flour or water is a common cause of denseness because it slows down the rising time. Little yeasty bodies won’t come out of hibernation until the weather is warm.

#3

When shaping the dough for a loaf, use your fingers to gently press out any big bubbles.

Pay close attention to the perimeter of your dough rectangle before rolling it into a cylinder shape. Failure to press out the big bubbles can result in tunnels inside the bread that look the same as when a mole visits your yard.

#4

Instead of flour, use a spray bottle of water to wet the surface before shaping your dough.

spraying hands with water

Also, spray your hands and bench scraper. This will help keep your dough light and works much better than flour with sticky dough. You can also use spray olive oil instead of water for extra flavor–especially good with a sandwich bread.

#5

Use a silicone baking mat as a work surface for shaping the dough.

floury silicone mat
  • Easy to wash by hand, or throw it into the dishwasher.
  • Silicone mats are inherently non-stick. They won’t absorb water or oil and use less bread flour than working on a countertop.
  • When appropriate, shape the dough and leave it on the mat. Transfer the mat holding the bread onto a baking sheet and straight into a hot oven. Wipe any excess flour from the mat so it won’t burn as the bread bakes.
  • When baking bread that might leak (cheese bread or something with fruit), a mat on the baking sheet is much easier to clean than a baking sheet with burned-on cheese or fruit.

#6

Allow sourdough bread to cool completely before slicing into it.

timer

Sourdough bread needs at least one hour to cool and finish the baking process. If cut while still warm, your bread will be gummy.

Read this post for more tips for using a bread machine in general.


How to mix sourdough bread in a bread machine with the DOUGH cycle:

Add liquid ingredients, then flour. Yeast is last.
After 10-15 minutes of kneading, the dough should be tacky enough to stick to the sides, then pull away cleanly. If your dough doesn’t look like this, add water or flour to correct it. (Read this post about the most important thing you should do when using a bread machine.)
Leave the dough in the machine until the DOUGH cycle completes and the dough is double its original size.

How to shape the dough and bake it in the oven:

removing the dough from the bread machine pan
Remove the dough to a floured or water-sprinkled surface to shape.
kneading dough to press out large air bubbles.
Knead briefly to press out any large bubbles. Cover and allow the dough to rest and relax for about 10 minutes for easier handling.
shaping dough into a rectangle
Use your hands to gently coax and stretch the dough into a rough rectangle shape that is as wide as your pan is long.
pinching the seams together
Roll dough from the short end to make a cylinder. Pinch the seams shut. Doing it this way makes a beautiful texture when you cut it open that you won’t get when baking in a bread machine. (Look at the first picture to see how the texture swirls instead of a random crumb pattern.)
dough inside of a loaf pan
Drop the dough into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan when measured on the bottom. (This size will hold 8 cups of water if you want to compare it with a pan you already have.)
covering the loaf with a shower cap
Cover and set bread in a warm place to rise until about 1 inch above the top of the pan. I use freebie shower caps but a tea towel or plastic wrap is good, too.
sprinkling dough over the top of a loaf
When dough is ready to bake, gently rub flour over the top with your hands or sift flour over the top of the bread.
slashing bread with serrated knife
Slash the bread with a sharp knife or razor blade.
baked sourdough bread still in the pan
Bake according to directions until internal temperature reaches 200-210˚F.
storing baked bread in a plastic bag designed for homemade bread
Cool bread on a rack for at least an hour before cutting. Keep any leftovers in a plastic bag (this one sized especially for bread). Do not refrigerate. Freezing for a short time is fine. Double wrap so it won’t dry out.

Y’know that part about letting your loaf cool for a minimum of one hour or even longer? That is so hard for me. Here’s my little trick: I consciously plan to run an errand that requires me to leave the house or go for a walk for at least an hour until that loaf is cool.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who uses these kind of silly tricks in my life.

Not sure you want to mess with sourdough? This Condensed Milk Bread is one of the best. Or try this Honey Wheat Bread Machine Bread if whole grains are your thing.


“Why is my bread dense?”

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If you enjoyed this recipe, please give it 5 stars! No comment required. Thank you.

Hope to see you again soon!
Paula

p.s. Questions or suggestions? Email me: paula at saladinajar.com.

Yield: 1-½ lb. loaf

Sourdough Bread Machine Bread: A Simple Loaf Recipe

Basic White Sourdough Loaf

Make this basic sourdough bread machine loaf using the DOUGH cycle of your bread machine, then bake in your oven.

Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227 gr) water
  • ⅓ cup (80 gr) sourdough starter
  • 1-½ teaspoon (10 gr) table or sea salt
  • 1-½ teaspoon (7 gr) granulated sugar
  • 3 cups (360 gr) bread flour
  • 1-½ teaspoons rapid-rise, bread machine, or instant yeast

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients in the order given above.
  2. Choose the DOUGH cycle and hit START.
  3. 15 minutes into the DOUGH cycle, lift the lid and check the dough. It should be tacky enough to stick to the sides of the pan, then pull away cleanly. If too wet, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Give the machine 2-3 minutes to knead in the flour or water before adding more.
  4. When the DOUGH cycle is complete, check the dough. It should be double the original size. If it has not risen enough, leave it in the machine until it does.
  5. Remove the dough onto a floured or wet surface I keep a spray bottle handy. Press the dough into a rough rectangle. The short side should be slightly wider than the length of your bread pan.
  6. To make a loaf, roll the dough into a cylinder starting from the short side. Seal the seams and turn the ends under and pinch shut.
  7. Place dough with the seam down into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. The dough should not fill the pan more than half full. If the pan is too full, use a larger pan or pull out some of the dough and make rolls with the extra dough.
  8. Set the prepared loaf in a warm place, cover, and allow to rise again until approximately one inch above the top of the pan.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450˚F.
  10. When your loaf is ready to bake, sprinkle the top with flour. Make slashes diagonally or one slash lengthwise down the middle.
  11. For a crispier crust (optional), place a pan containing 2 cups of boiling water onto the bottom rack of your oven while the bread bakes. Spritz loaf lightly with water a couple of times in the first five minutes to add steam.
  12. Place bread in the oven and turn the oven back to 425˚ for 25-30 minutes. The loaf is done when the internal temperature reaches 200-210˚F.
  13. Within 5 minutes, remove baked bread from the pan onto a cooling rack so the bottom won't steam and get soft.
  14. Allow your bread to cool at least one full hour before cutting into it. Failure to wait will cause the bread to be gummy.

Notes

For a more pronounced Sourdough Flavor:


The day before you want to serve the bread: Combine all of the water, sourdough starter, and half of the bread flour in the bread machine pan. Start the machine and let it mix just until all the flour is moistened. Turn the machine off. Let this mixture sit until you are ready to make bread the next day.

Making the bread: Add the salt, sugar, remaining flour, and yeast. Mix on the DOUGH cycle. Proceed to Step 4 and finish making the bread as directed.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 116Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 25mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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Sharon Scott

Monday 1st of February 2021

Hello, love your blog, I use my bread machine once or twice a week for help with the manual labor. About once a month I make a sourdough loaf (autolyze, bulk rise, etc.) but am anxious to try your recipe for the simple loaf. For the overnight option you state “Since you have used less bread machine yeast, your dough may need additional time for the first and second rise but it will pay off in additional flavor.” I don’t see a note to reduce the amount of yeast. That made me wonder if I could use some of my discard plus the 1 ½ tsp yeast. I only feed my starter once a week or so and use the discard for our favorite pizza dough. Thank you! Sharon Scott

Paula

Monday 1st of February 2021

Sharon, I'm glad you asked. The sentence about less yeast should have been deleted. I have another variation of this recipe that I decided not to include just to keep things simple. But I'll tell you. Here's what I do sometimes. Add all the water, half of the flour, and 1/8 teaspoon of yeast the night before. Turn on the bread machine and mix just until the flour is all moist. When I get ready to make the bread, I add the rest of the ingredients and the remaining flour but reduce the yeast to 1 teaspoon so you are adding a total of 1 and 1/8 teaspoon. So “Since you have used less bread machine yeast, your dough may need additional time for the first and second rise but it will pay off in additional flavor.” Now you know the whole story. This is combining a biga and a long autolyse of sorts. Just something I made up. I haven't tried adding discard to this mixture but maybe I will. Seems like a good idea. You might need to add more flour depending on how thin your discard is.