When I joined the sourdough craze of 2020 I had one requirement. I had to be able to make a pan loaf and not just pretty artisan bread. #basic
I’ve been making our bread, instead of buying it, for over two years now and the idea of not having to always have yeast on hand, or worrying about running out of yeast was appealing. All I needed to have on hand was flour and water and I could make my own yeast. Sign me up!
I found a sourdough cookbook for beginners and this Light Wheat Pan Loaf is from that book. Over time, I’ve experimented with different ways of making this loaf and this recipe includes my favorite ways to cut corners and still get a great loaf of bread.
This recipe is from the book “Sourdough Cookbook for Beginners” by Eric Rusch and Melissa Johnson. It’s a great starter sourdough book if you haven’t joined the sourdough train yet but have thought about it and I made it easy and linked it for you! I don't get any commission for sharing this knowledge with you.
This recipe makes 1 loaf, but it’s easy to double it to make two loaves. Here is what you’ll need in your kitchen before you start:
· Medium bowl (bonus if it has a lid)
· 2-cup measuring cup or small bowl
· Sourdough starter that’s fed, risen, and bubbly
· Plastic wrap, clean hand towel, or damp towel
· Oil, butter, or non-stick spray
Here’s the ingredients:
· 330 grams scalded milk or warm water (about 90 degrees Fahrenheit)
· 30 grams unsalted butter
· 30 grams honey (1 ½ Tablespoons)
· 12 grams salt (2 teaspoons)
· 260 grams all-purpose or bread flour
· 260 grams whole grain flour
· 150 grams sourdough starter
And here’s how you put them all together to make bread. My corner cutting tips are underlined:
1. Measure out milk and butter in a 2-cup measuring cup or small bowl. Heat both, either in the microwave or on the stove until the temperature reaches about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Out of milk? You can use warm water instead. I do it all the time.
2. Add honey and salt to the milk and butter and stir to dissolve.
3. Combine the flours, sourdough starter, and milk (or water) mixture in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. I like to use my hands, but you can use a spoon, or you can put it in a stand mixer and use the paddle attachment. Transfer dough to a floured countertop and knead by hand for 2-3 minutes. Personally, I just keep it in the bowl and squish it with my hands for 2-3 minutes for less mess in my kitchen.
4. Cover the dough and let it bulk ferment (rise) for 6-12 hours at room temperature, or until it has just doubled in size. This will depend on the ambient temperature of your room. A warmer room will mean a faster rise. A colder room will mean a slower rise. If your bowl doesn’t have a lid, you can use damp paper towels or a clean hand towel with flower spread over it, or plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray over the top. I’ve never not had paper towels, or clean hand towels not stick to the dough no matter what I do to try and prevent it, so plastic wrap is what I use if my bowl doesn’t have a lid.
5. Flour your countertop, scrape the dough onto it and shape the dough into a tube by folding inward like an envelope and then rolling on the counter.
6. Oil your bread pan and place the dough into it. Cover the dough and let it sit 2-4 hours. Again, use a damp paper towel, a clean hand towel, or plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray. You can also retard the dough in the fridge overnight or longer. The dough is ready to bake when it has doubled in size or its highest part crests over the lip of a 9x5x2 ¾ inch pan.
7. Place one of your oven racks in the second from the bottom position. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. I usually don’t wait 15 minutes, I don’t have the kind of patience.
8. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the interior of the loaf is over 190 degrees. A meat thermometer is good for checking this. I don't always do this. After the first time, you can usually figure out if you need to cook it longer or not.
9. When the bread has finished baking, immediately remove it from the pan. Cool it on a rack on its side to discourage settling of the crumb for at least one hour before slicing. If there are cracks along the sides at the top, that is usually an indication the bread was under proved, but don’t worry, it will still taste great. Also, don't skip this step. Sometimes we don't because warm bread is amazing, but the inside is always a little bit gummy when we do this.
10. Once completely cooled, store in a plastic bag or beeswax wrap to keep it soft.