The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Extremely soft sourdough sandwich bread - the most shreddble, soft, velvety ever!

txfarmer's picture

Extremely soft sourdough sandwich bread - the most shreddble, soft, velvety ever!


I have posted about how to make very soft, very fluffy, yet still bouncy sandwich breads with lots of flavor(see here). The key isn't any gimmick or special ingredient, it's intensive kneading, a full long bulk rise, and proper shaping. I have posted the windowpane picture in the earlier post, but still got some questions about it. Here I will try to describle how the dough would progress during intensive kneading:

1. Dough starts to come together, but if you pull a piece, the dough would easily tear, won't form windowpane.

2. Keep kneading, the windowpane gradually starts to form, but it's thick, and won't extend very far. If you poke and get a hole, the edge is rough.

3. keep kneading, the windowpane becomes very extensible. The windowpane is thin but very very tough to break. If you poke a hole (I actually have to use my nail), the edge is smooth.

4. Keep kneading, the windowpane becomes even thinner, more transparent, but it becomes more delicate, easier to poke holes. The edge of the hole is still smooth.

5. Keep kneading, the dough starts to break down into a puddle of mud.


Stage 3 is the "golden point" for creating sandwiches with the best texture, and highest volume. 4 is a little over, your bread will still be high and nice, bu the texture would be a bit rough.  Of course it will take a few trail and error to get to that point reliably. In addition, if you are making a sourdough version like I do here, the bulk rise would take a lot longer than the dry yeast version. During this time, the dough is still getting stronger, which means, we need to knead the dough a tiny bit less than stage 3. This time I stopped kneading probably 30secs before it reaches stage 3, and the bread I got is the softest, most shreddable, bounciest I have ever gotten.


Sourdough Incredibly soft white bread

Note: 19% of the flour is in levain

Note: total flour is 250g, fit my Chinese small-ish pullman pan. For 8X4 US loaf tin, I suggest to use about 270g of total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I would suggest using about 430g of total flour.

- levain

starter (100%), 13g

milk, 22g

bread flour, 41g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- final dough

bread flour, 203g (I used half KAF bread flour and half KAF AP flour for a balance of chewiness and volume)

sugar, 25g

butter, 25g, softened

egg whites, 60g

salt, 3g

milk, 102g


1. mix until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec:P)

2. rise at room temp for 2 hours, punch down, put in fridge overnight.

3. takeout, divide, round, rest for 1 hour. shape as instructed here.

4. rise at room temp for about 6 hours. For my pullman pan, it should be about 80% full; for US 8x4inch pan, it should be about one inch above the edge. The dough would have tripled by then, if it can't, your kneading is not enough or over.

5. bake at 350F for 45min. brush with butter when warm.


Crumb shots from different parts of the bread, all very velvety soft, with no pores.


So soft that it's hard to cut, much easier to tear off pieces


Amazingly soft and flavorful


Sending this to Yeastspotting.


txfarmer's picture

100% starter means a sourdough starter where water:flour ratio is 1:1, so your starter is the same. Use yoru starter in place of my starter(100%) in the formula to make a firm levain, then the main dough. The reason why I make a firm levain first is because a firm leavin would privde more strength to the dough than a liquid starter like ours. Strength is critical to this type of sandwich loaf.

Manasi's picture

Good to know, thank you!  One last question - I just put together the levain according to the proportions you mention.  It looks like a very sticky dough now as opposed to my far more liquid starter.  This is how it is supposed to be, correct?  I'm not very confident because this is my first sourdough-based baking effort.
Thanks for your patience!

txfarmer's picture

The hydration of levain is 60% something, so it should be a dough, that's why I refer to it as "firm" levain.

jarkkolaine's picture

Despite all my efforts to teach my family to love a rustic sourdough loaf, they still keep buying sandwich bread from the store, so I could say I have been forced to bake something like that for them... Luckily, I finally remembered this recipe of yours and decided to give it a go yesterday. This morning, I baked the first loaf. The kids haven't tasted it yet (as they are still asleep) but I took a few slices myself already, and I'm sure they'll enjoy what's waiting for them when they wake up :)

Hand kneading the dough is a lot of work, but I was very happy I did it (about 35 minutes) as I have never had such a beautiful gluten structure in my breads before. I guess it's worth taking the time to do the work properly. 

Big thanks for the recipe and the kneading instructions! 


Janetcook's picture

Hi Jarkkolaine,

I saw your comment here and wanted to let you know that when I first started baking bread my kids would only eat the loaves I made that I added cinnamon and raisins to.  I wanted variety so I did bake with a number of different flours and ingredients but in the beginning I always added cinnamon and raisins and that way they ate what I was making not knowing I was sneaking other things in.

The first lean loaf that I made without cinnamon and raisins was a loaf from Dan Leopard's The Handmade Loaf.  It was the Barley Rye loaf.  My son loved it toasted with butter and honey on it.....After that experience I began trying other lean loaves like Shiao Ping's Banana Pain au Levain and they liked that too.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is, don't give up!  I continued to bake because I loved it and got hooked.  I stopped buying bread at the store and gradually I have won them over.  Most of my breads that I bake do not have cinnamon and raisins in them but that is still their favorite :-)  It has been 2 years of baking for me now and when they taste something store bought they don't like it.  For them it now has no flavor.

Just thought of something else.  One of the things my family had a hard time with was the shape of the lean loaves I was making - boules and batards.  They prefer the sandwich loaf shape!!!!  Odd but true.  My husband and my daughter like small rolls. So you might experiment with the shapes you are baking too.

Good Luck!


Sadassa_Ulna's picture

I had no idea that sourdough could be used to make bread like that. My kids complain about my crusty batards and now I have a new goal. Your breads (and photos) are beautiful. Thank you sharing your recipes and methods. 

Marc Brik's picture
Marc Brik

I just love this weird recipe. But it is not that weird if I think about it. It is almost like a "white" Brioche, (less sugar and butter than a brioche) without the egg yolks. The result is very satisfying. I multiplied the recipe 3x divide the dough up into 12x 122-123 gr/piece. Using the pullman mehod; 9 pieces I used for 3 loaves, only 1 third of the pan was filled. and the other 3 pices I cut in half before the scond roll and used the in my mini loaf tins. 

Making this recipe I learned about the perfect window pane, what eggwhite does to a bread recipe, that my starter is perfect, and the pullman rolling method

The result was moist, light fluffy crumb. The crust golden amber, crisp and the flavour light sour. This Bread is just beautiful. It deseves a definate place right next to Pierre Nury’s Rustic Light Rye. 

Thank you

TaiMai13's picture

Hi txfarmer. I found your Pan de Mie recipe while I was searching for a solution to soft homemade sandwich bread. I have been using Syd's White Sandwich Loaf recipe for a while now, but I have not been able to achieve the same results as Syd. Your information on intensive kneading was very helpful and I have definitely seem some improvement in texture. However, I'm still not getting what I want. I'm keen to try your recipe here, but I was hoping maybe you (or some other helpful and knowledgeable contributor) could help me adapt it to a yeasted dough. My wife doesn't eat much bread, so I don't bake as much as I would like. As a result, I dont' really have the volume of bread necessary to try to keep a sourdough starter alive. It would be great if there were a way to adapt most of the same methods of this recipe but include yeast. And preferably dry yeast, as I can't find fresh yeast in less than 1kg blocks, which again I struggle to use up in time due to low throughput of bread. I realise that I could just "add yeast", but I'm smart enough to know what I don't know, and I'm just not experienced enough yet to know how much to use, when to add, division between pre-ferment and main dough, etc. I love the flavour that Syd's poolish adds to the bread, and would love to implement that technique with this recipe. I still have a long way to go when it comes to getting my kneading and proving right, but a solid recipe should definitely help me achieve that. Many thanks whether you have the time to help or not. You in fact already have helped me a lot with your wealth of knowledge in your existing posts.

txfarmer's picture

The most straightfoward way to adapt it to a yeasted version is to convert the starter/levain into same amount of flour and water and add that to the main dough(so the total ratio of everything remain the same), add 1% instant yeast, adjust bulk rise and 2nd rise according ot how the dough behaves (usually 1-2 hours for bulk and 1 hr for proofing). 

If you prefer a poolish or other type of preferment, just follow that same preferment ratio, use the same baker's percentage for other ingredients as this dough, stick to the same kneading requirement. 

TaiMai13's picture

Thanks for your reply tx.

I think one of the benefits of using a starter is the nice slow, controlled proofing you get with the natural yeasts. Even with 1% instant yeast, which is the ratio I usually go for, I find my bread will proof quickly (like the 1hr you mentioned). The quick proofing seems to wreck havoc with the structure of the dough, causing an uneven crumb, lots of air bubbles near the surface and lumps. I'm sure some of this will be able to be counteracted by better kneading with its better gluten network, but it would seem controlling the ferment would also be of benefit.

So my question is, do you think its better to reduce yeast or temperature to control fermentation? I've fermented in the fridge before, and haven't really been happy with the results, though this of course could have been my error as opposed to bad chemistry. It's usually cool here (Wellington, New Zealand) but we're having an unseasonably warm summer and we've just moved to a new apartment that is much warmer, so my ambient temp is way up. I will experiment with all of this myself of course, but any information you can provide from your wealth of experience on the way would be greatly appreciated.

My gluten-free friend was over yesterday and when he saw the pictures of your loaf above, he said he would happily suffer the consequences to eat such beautiful bread if I could replicate it!! I don't expect to get it quite as good as your's, but even getting close would make me extremely happy!

RixterTrader's picture

If your gluten-free friend is wanting to eat this bread, you may want to stick to the original starter-based long ferment version.  At the very least, use very little dry yeast and allow a long ferment in a cool area.  The long fermentation will make it easier for your friend to handle this bread.

TaiMai13's picture

Hi txfarmer,

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I've converted your recipe into a yeasted version and updated the size to fit my pan, and have baked about 20-25 loaves so far. I've tweaked the ingredients to suit my own taste as well, but it is still fundamentally the same recipe. Though this is not my best effort, I thought I should post a few pictures.

I just wanted to thank you so much. Your tutorials on intensive kneading have absolutely revolutionized my bread baking. I cannot belive how good my homemade sandwich bread is now. It's been a 2-3 year journey, but I'm now officially happy. I must say, I don't believe I've ever achieved a windowpane as good as one of yours. This is probably a combination of poor technique and flour differentiation. We don't get KA in New Zealand, though I've had a Swiss baker tell me that NZ flour is very good quality overall and I buy from the same place as our local bakeries. Regardless, I'm continuing to attempt improvement.

I have one question (actually I have a million but I don't want to bother you with too many). I've been making my breads with a poolish, and 3 times I have also tried to ferment them overnight in the fridge. Though I haven't experienced much improvement in taste, I like the convenience of getting a lot of the work out of the way the day before so that I can just prove and bake and have a loaf ready for lunch. But I've noticed that the loaves I put in the fridge don't prove as much. I would say they have about 10% less volume than ones that didn't go in overnight. All three times, the fermenting times at room temp were different. I did an hour, 45 min and 30 min each before S&F and going into the fridge. The crumb does seem to be a bit softer, but of course it's more dense as there is less volume. Every time there were also little bubbles that appear just under the crust of the bread. Can you think of why this would be happening? I know you do a lot of overnight fermenting and I've never seen these bubbles on your loaves or seen you mention less volume. I researched a lot on Google and couldn't find much information or any consencus in the bit that was available.

Many thanks!


reeper's picture

hi txfarmer,

would like some help. have made the stiff levain as per ur instructions and made the dough to the proper windowpane. But when left to rise for 2hrs it doesn't look like it rose much. After fridge to 1hr rest and tight shaping it doesnt reach the tin height after a long 6hrs I live in msia and its hot so technically it prolly would rise quicker at our temps. I cant figure out what Im doing wrong.

My levain is active and mature fed every 10hrs due to our weather. Please help thanks

jeni_rainbow's picture

Thank you for this gorgeous recipe. I am trying it for the first time, the recipe almost as given, for myself, and a variation with garlic and herb butter filling as requested by some friends. I spread the filling on the round of dough before rolling it up and putting it in the pans. It is rising beautifully and the oven is preheating. I can't wait to see how it turns out - I'll be thrilled if it is half as lovely as yours looks!

I did a triple quantity of the bread, combining one quantity of sourdough with two of yeast - only because my friends felt they would prefer a yeast version, while I like sourdough, so I compromised! ;-)

Your instructions were fantastic, and the link to the video on kneading was extremely helpful, too. It took me 45 minutes of kneading as per the video to get to a stage 3 which was like Crider described in the post titled 'Experiment' i.e. not so smooth and thin as yours, but extensible and I poked a hole with smooth edges. I haven't tried that particular method of kneading before, but it wasn't too hard to at least approximate it, and it made handling the sticky dough much easier than I could have imagined possible.

Thank you again, I'll post again when I see how it has turned out - maybe even with a picture or two!



I'm so, so proud of myself! The loaves turned out beautiful - soft, light as air and with a delicate, yet rich flavour!

Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

I made two small garlic and herb loaves for my friends and a single large loaf for me.

I would post the pictures but I can't work out how to do it!

Anyway, thanks again for the fabulous recipe, instructions and link to the kneading video!





CharSiu's picture

Hi. I don't know what went wrong... I did everything as said, but when it came to kneading, I found the dough was too runny and wet, more like batter than dough. It wasn't that wet, but it was too wet to handle. What am I doing wrong? I added flour but now I'm afraid that I added too much. And it took me about 2 hours to get to stage 3 by hand kneading. Am I doing something wrong here?

Beloz's picture

I just started my first sourdough starter and am getting all excited about baking my first SD loaf. I was showing my 8yo daughter pictures of breads and she kept saying "I don't like bread like that" until I got to this one. She says she will even eat the crust of this one. 

But the importance on kneading does worry me. I'm a total novice and usually use my bread maker for kneading. Even though it's old and I suspect it often overkneads. You posted a video link in a comment on how to deal with wet dough, but the video is gone. Any other resources you can recommend that can help me? 



paneman's picture

Add, half the wet to start the mix off then slowly add the rest of the wet in stages as the dough develops during the knesding process

VB Lum's picture
VB Lum

bHello,  thanks for posting this great  recipe, I have been looking for something like this one for a long time.  Problem is, I have tried to convert before to American measurements, for  my    13" Pullman pan, with not so great results (understatement!).  

Has anyone had any luck converting  this recipe for use by us Americans?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Do you mean has anyone had luck converting this to cups?  

Which cups would you like?  Wet cups, dry cups, 237g cups, 240g cups or 250g cups?  

jannamo's picture

I am an American and I have a cheap digital scale that reads grams, I recommend that for baking.  BUT you can also use Google to find an easy converter, just type something like this in the search bar: "100 grams to ounces" and it will give you a number of results. Good luck!

jannamo's picture

Thanks for this fantastic recipe! I started making no-knead sourdough a month or two ago and this is my very first attempt at a kneaded bread, and I'm floored!  I had no idea I could make a bread like this, it's delicious and so soft! 

One question for anyone who knows, I'm a complete beginner so I could use some help: I had to let my levain rise for 24 hours, then after kneading I left the dough overnight to rise rather than in the fridge.  Then after shaping the loaves in the morning I was able to get the full rise in the recommended 6 hours.  IAre the extra-long first two rises a sign that my starter is somewhat weak? Or that my house is too cool? Both?


lucio's picture

Dear Txfarmer;


I would like to thank you very much for the recipe wich i am following and trying to do in the practice something similar. My aim is a flat, smooth texture, if possible with no small holes, moreless what we see in your penultimate picture. Could you adivise where is the point in order to achive this?? I mean what is most important during the process??

Thank you in advance.




txfarmer's picture

As emphasized in the first paragraph.

lucio's picture

Tks for the prompt answer. I understand but , for example, the fact you ask for a bulk full raise of the dough will not develop bubbles that will turn into small hole in the crumb??



txfarmer's picture

You asked which step is the most important, then the answer is the kneading. To get the perfect even crumb, every step matters (as described in the original post). Including a full bulk rise, then a thorough de-gas, careful shaping, proper proof, good baking etc. 

lucio's picture

That´s true. And i am learning a lot with you because i am a beginner. My question could be stupid but the last full bulk rise (inside the pan) could not develop the small holes inside the dough ??

gary.turner's picture

The point in a soft sandwich loaf is not to eliminate the holes, it is to cause a whole lot of smaller, evenly distributed holes. You must have these holes lest you end up with a loaf with the characteristics of a brick. Your kneading and shaping is directed toward breaking up the larger bubbles of gas and create small bubbles.

As unintuitive as it may be, a small holed sandwich loaf may entrap more gas than a large holed 'artisan' loaf.

txfarmer's picture

1) that rise is called "proofing" not "bulk rise"

2) without any holes, the bread would have no volume. The fact that it "grows" while proofing and in oven means it's generating holes. The point is to generate even small holes. 

lucio's picture

Thank you again. I learn with each of your threads. My aim it to get a texture in whole crumb such as the penultimate picture of txfarmer. It is a kind of flat, even, elastic texture and the fibers and grains are oriented all in one direction. Maybe i didnt expressed very well in the past. Maybe the hole are still there but they are very small and oriented in just one direction.

I found this video where we can see in the first seconds how the bread is texture is elastic and tight.

Abelbreadgallery's picture

Dear friend. How do you think this recipe would work with some whole wheat flour? I mean, for example, 80% regular flour and 20% whole wheat. In which way this ratio wouldl impact in the fermentation process?

Thank you very much!

Abel Sierra, Spain.

txfarmer's picture

Please refer to my blog index the beginning of the post. There are lots of similar 100% ww breads. If you only use <20% ww, expect less volume and similar crumb. 

lucio's picture

lucio's picture

This is the texture i would like to achieve. You can see that it is even, soft and also there are no "grains" when cutting the slices. Could you understand what i mean??/ How do you think i can get this??



Beloz's picture

I got this to work on my 2nd try. I skipped the levain step though and made a mistake in my conversion for the first dough. And I still wasn't completely satisfied with the oven spring for the final one. But it is soft and fluffy and tastes delicious. My 8yo who has never really liked my homemade bread said this was the first bread she had ever liked on its own. 

The only issue I had was that I had to hold my 40yo Kenwood Chef when I kneaded on 4 or it would have landed on the floor in no time. Oh and I also found shaping hard because the dough was so slack. Next time I'll roll it between 2 sheets of baking paper. 

adri's picture

Hi, great bread. I replaced 100g of the white flour with whole Einkorn.
It tastes great for tea (5 o'clock here;)). Especially with chocolate cream.

For breakfast or dinner (German: Abendbrot, literally evening bread) it still is too sweat. The MOs didn't eat all of the sugar (maybe ignored the fructose part of the sugar?).

It is a good base to start my own experiments. Thanks a lot!

Here's an image. I couldn't resist to cut it while it was still warm. It was worth it!!!

chasenpse's picture

I've been looking for a good recipe to make soft sandwich bread for a while now and this looks amazing, thanks for sharing! I noticed this recipe calls for just milk, whereas this one calls for milk powder + water. Why was the recipe changed from powder and will the type of milk used drastically affect the final product (whole/1%/2%)?

rickj's picture

Hello and good day to you.  I want to give the sourdough pain de mie a try but my pullman pan is 16X4.  I have no idea how to alter a recipe for my pan.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you might want to pull up a thread on pan sizes and dough weights.  But generally you want to fill the pan about half full of dough that expands twice the volume.  Less dough for more expansion, More dough for less expansion.

flouryhands's picture


The bread looks delicous!  so I've been inspired to try this out. 

I have mixed the levain per the instructions and it has formed a very firm/dry ball of dough - is this correct?

flouryhands's picture

Just saw an older post where you confirm that the levain should be firm!  so my question is answered.  Loaf is in progress now, will report back with how it turned out.

Zarina's picture

wow wow ! Super! Thank you so much! I m so inspred by your post just reading it and i want to try soon! Thank you! God bless!

Joshking440's picture

ive tried this recipe twice now with zero luck.  I blame this fully on my lack of experience. 

both share similar traits in there failed state.  

Best at way I can explain is that when I finally get the window pane as pictured the dough is very much like silly putty in texture and it never rises.   


I use my sour dough frequently for other things so I am fairly sure I have a good well kept starter But I just seem to miss on this and white bread is one of my favorite foods so I'm excited to get it right.  I'm going to try to replace the starter with yeast and see how it goes.   I have pictures of needed.  

lyudmilka's picture

Thank you very much for this recipe.
I was looking for the sourdough sandwich bread, without yeast added.
I have made it twice. It is perfect, very tasty, a little sour, airy but with body, with butter taste. Love it with a glass of milk or buttermilk.
Usually I do not eat so much bread, and prefer rye dense bread, even with coffee I love rye bread. But not this time.
This bread is not sandwich bread. This is brioche. One of the best I have eaten.


paneman's picture


Great formula!, I have started using this in my Bakery. We mix a 20 / 2-lb batch at a time. We also use a double hydration move when mixing. When I first made this in a larger batch, I had to scrap down the bowl and work this dough for over 25 minutes to get it to the correct development. Double hydration is key for the larger batch. Thanks for a great Formula!



frumgirl1's picture

Could you help me out? I'm having a hard time converting it to percentages. I think the starter and hydration with the egg whites are throwing me off.'s picture

has anyone tried this successfully with freshly ground whole wheat flour?


Desiderio's picture

I have been around for awhile but I haven't had the chance to bake much in the past couple of years, due the limited space we are in at this moment (kitchen is Barby dool size!!). Just recently revived my SD and getting back to work with it. My major disappointment was to only be able to produce hard crust bread, which I am more than happy with since I am Italian and I do love my bread crusty! But my family enjoys a more soft bread especially for every day sandwiches. You bread is just what I was dreaming of, you are a genius and I can't thank you enough for all the work you put into your creations! The loaf came beautifully soft and with a slight tang, not overwhelming which I find a positive trait. I have made Shokupan (sp) or milk Asian bread in the past, and was very very impressed with the type of great the produces, but I felt I would have love it better if I could use my SD instead of yeast. My goal is to be able to use exclusivley SD for all of my baking, and your blog and recipes are what I was looking for.


thank you!


KBHarper's picture

Hi, I'm not sure TXFarmer is even around, but perhaps another baker out there can help. I made this lovely loaf once, and it was a hit with the kids (of course), and now I am on a mission to make a larger loaf. This quote from the recipe has me confused: "total flour is 250g, fit my Chinese small-ish pullman pan. For 8X4 US loaf tin, I suggest to use about 270g of total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I would suggest using about 430g of total flour." This seems to tell how to make a bigger loaf, but (here comes the potentially ignorant question) do I just calculate the other ingredients to allow for the increased flour? I've been baking 10+ years, so I feel silly about this, but insight is most appreciated!

KristiK22's picture

Yes you can calculate based on percentages BUT I will say I made this loaf as a full sized pullman pan and basically doubled the recipe and it came out perfect :) 

KristiK22's picture

Absolutely perfect! I usually mill at home and go all whole grain sourdough BUT every now and then I just need to make a white bread loaf! Usually I only do half and half but I went all out this time :) I doubled your recipe for my full size US Pullman pan and I used 2 egg whites and one full egg to equal the proper amount... it was perfect!! Absolutely shreddable and absolutely delightful. Long, cold 18 hour ferment overnight, about a 5 hour final rise/proof and bake and just delightful!