A simple sourdough pan loaf, baked in a normal loaf tin. This is a great recipe for sourdough beginners and a good way to bake sourdough bread without a dutch oven. If sourdough is new to you, or you're not having the best results yet with boules, a pan loaf might be a great option. Since there's nowhere for the dough to go but up, you won't have some common beginner's problems with too much spread and lack of an upward rise.
Please note than any sourdough bread baked in a loaf tin, like this one, won't have the same crisp, harder crust as a sourdough boule. It's more of a thin, slightly crackly crust - equally delicious, just different.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Flour: substitute up to 50% of the white flour with whole wheat flour. You can probably make out 100% whole wheat sourdough bread this way too. If you want a chewier loaf, substitute all or part of the white flour with bread flour.
- Levain: active sourdough starter and levain can be used interchangeably for this recipe, so go for whatever your preference is.
Step 1: mix your starter or levain, water, and flour. Let it rest for 40 minutes, then mix in the salt and let it rest again.
Step 2: do six rounds of stretches and folds, once every 30 minutes.
Step 3: shape the dough into a rectangle, then roll it up like a burrito.
Step 4: create any surface tension if possible.
Step 5: transfer the dough into a prepared loaf tin.
Step 6: cover well and refrigerate the dough overnight.
Step 7: in the morning, take the dough out and let it rest at room temperature for a couple hours.
Step 8: bake until golden, about 45 minutes.
- Use the water: adding the pan of water to the oven during the first half of baking increases the humidity within the oven, and helps to improve the texture of the outer crust of the loaf. This is the same concept as baking in a dutch oven.
- No need to score: scoring isn't needed for this recipe, but if you want to control where the bread will go as it rises during baking, you may prefer to score. If not, the loaf will usually open more on the side near the top rather than across the top.
- Use starter: if using starter rather than levain, skip the two nights before step. This is the time needed for the levain to become active, the same as you would feed a starter one night before baking with it.
We recommend using a standard loaf tin for this recipe, as the loaf isn't a particularly large one. That's 8.5 x 4.5 inches or 22 x 11cm. A longer tin can be used but the bread will be rather flat.
You can make just about any sourdough bread recipe in a bread tin rather than in a dutch oven by following this method. If you don't have a dutch oven, simply follow the same recipe as listed, then use this shaping and baking method.
How to Store
Storage: keep the bread in a fabric or paper bag, wrapped in a tea towel, or in a bread bin at room temperature for up to five days. It will dry out slightly over time but toasts very well.
Freezing: freeze the full loaf in an airtight container, or do individual slices, for up to two months. Thaw slices directly in the toaster for easy single servings.
Can you use a loaf tin for sourdough?
Any sourdough bread recipe can be baked in a loaf tin or bread pan. Simply follow the method here for your favourite recipe or if you don't have a dutch oven.
Do you need a special pan to bake sourdough bread?
While most recipes will call for a dutch oven, a heavy lidded pot, you can bake sourdough without a dutch oven. Use a recipe specifically for a bread tin, or adjust any sourdough recipe to bake it this way.
Can you use metal with sourdough?
You can use stainless steel for sourdough, which most cutlery is made from these days. Any non-stick pans or other metals can react to the sourdough and cause the coating to flake off, for example. Bake your loaf in a stainless steel or glass pan for the best long-term care of your pan.
If you make this Beginner's Sourdough Bread recipe or any other sourdough recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
Basic Pan Loaf
- Digital kitchen scale
- Mixing bowl
- Tea towel
- Loaf pan
- Parchment paper
- pastry brush
- Baking tray with high sides
- Wire rack
- 100 grams active starter or levain
- 500 grams all-purpose white flour
- 350 grams water room temperature or 68°F/20°C
- 10 grams sea salt
- TWO NIGHTS BEFORE
Make the levain:
- Take out 1-2 tablespoons of your starter from the refrigerator and mix with 1.8 oz. (50 grams) of room temperature water and 1.8 oz. (50 grams) of white flour.
- Cover the bowl with a plate and leave it on the counter to ferment overnight for approximately 8-12 hours.
ONE DAY BEFORE
- Once your levain is ready, combine all of it with the 12.3 oz. (350 grams) of water.
- Add the flour to the water mixture and, using your hands, mix to combine.
- Once the dough is mixed, cover with a tea towel and let it rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.
- After the dough has rested, add the salt.
- Mix well until combined then cover with the tea towel and let the mixture rest again for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, it is time for the first fold.
Do the first fold
- Here’s a tutorial on stretching and folding. Complete 6 folds (one fold every 30 minutes) for 3 hours total.
Shaping the dough
- Begin by taking the dough out of the bowl and letting it rest on the counter for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare your loaf pan by brushing it with a little neutral oil or butter.
- On a lightly floured surface, take your dough and flatten it to a rough rectangle. Roll it up like a burrito, being sure to press out any air bubbles.
- Place the dough in the prepared pan, cover with a tea towel or bowl cover and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight.
DAY OF BAKING
- The next day, take your loaf out of the fridge and let it rise on the counter for around 2 hours, or until the dough springs back when lightly touched with a floured finger. You can score the loaf if you desire, but it is not needed.
- While the dough is proofing, set one rack in the middle and one on the bottom of the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C).
- Once the dough is proofed, reduce the temperature to 450°F (230°C) and place a baking tray with high sides on the bottom rack. Fill it with about 2 cm (¾ inch) of water.
- Place your bread on the upper rack and bake for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, remove the tray of water and bake the bread for another 20 minutes.
- Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool fully on a wire rack before slicing.