This Easy Sweet & Soft Sourdough Bread Master Recipe is your trick to simplifying your sourdough baking and looking like a pro!
The secret that many great bakers and chefs have is a basic formula that they can adapt with a few adjustment to make incredible dishes.
This recipe and method will allow you to be like a pro baker by mastering this easy sweet and soft sourdough master recipe to make Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, Sweet Rolls, Soft sandwich bread, Parker House Rolls, Beignets, Monkey Bread, Cast-Iron Apple Swirl Bread, Savory Rolls, and so much more!
What is a Master Recipe?
Master recipes use a base recipe and method that can be made with a few additions or slight adjustments to create different recipes.
My book, Everyday Bread Baking, uses this formula with 8 master recipes with 34 additional recipes that use the master recipes as a format. This easy sweet and soft sourdough bread master recipe is my original recipe and is not featured in my book.
This allows the sourdough baker to learn a recipe formula and the steps of a recipe proficiently. Then, the baker can confidently use the formula to make different recipes that all have the basic formula and roughly the same ingredients. It’s one of my favorite ways to simplify my sourdough baking for my family.
See the video process for how to make this master recipe here:
Easy Sweet & Soft Sourdough Bread Master Recipe
This sweet and soft sourdough bread master recipe is an enriched bread recipe which means that there are fats added to create a flavorful, soft, rich dough.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this enriched bread recipe:
- 15-20 g sourdough starter (1 T.)
- 60 grams all-purpose or bread flour (7 tablespoons)
- 60 grams water (1⁄4 cup)
- Final dough:
- 100 g whole milk warmed (see step 2) (1/3 cup 1 T. 1 t.)
- 40 g water (2 T. 2 t.)
- 30 g sugar (2 T.)
- 100 g active sourdough starter (about 1 cup)
- 375 g all purpose flour (2 1/2 cups)
- 4 g vanilla (1 t.)*
- 7 g salt (1 t.)
- 1 whole egg
- 45 g unsalted butter, softened (3 T.)
6 Key Tips to Successfully make this Master Recipe
In order to make this master recipe successfully you need to take care with the following steps:
- First, your starter must be healthy and active. This is so important. If your starter is unhealthy or has not become active (just past its peak), your dough will not rise and ferment properly and certainly not in the timeline given in the recipe. If you need to review this, check out this post on refreshing your starter.
- Scalding the milk is an important step as it neutralizes proteins that can impact fermentation—I’ve tested this recipe with scalded and non-scalded and noticed a difference in the fermentation and texture of the dough. And the milk must be cooled properly to no more than 90 degrees F, otherwise you will cook the yeast in your starter which would kill or damage the yeast causing your dough not to rise.
- Ingredient state and temperature impacts the dough. Butter that is soft mixes in beautifully to create a soft, enriched dough, but melted butter will add to the liquid of the dough and will affect the hydration and texture.
- Thorough kneading is important, whether it is done by hand for 7-15 minutes or in a stand mixer using a dough hook on the two lowest speeds for 3-8 minutes. If you want to know when enough kneading is enough, look for a smooth appearance on the dough, elasticity, and it should no longer stick to your hands or bowl.
- Stretching and folding the dough at least once in the beginning of the bulk fermentation will further strengthen and develop the dough. Plan to do a first set of pulls 30 minutes after bulk fermentation begins.
- Finally, timing is key. Sourdough takes longer to ferment than dough made with conventional yeast. The dough should double in volume and should not be too sticky. Overfermenting is an issue so pay attention to your timelines. In this dough, the bulk ferment is 4-8 hours—4-6 in warm weather and 6-8 hours in cooler weather.
What is a Healthy and Active Sourdough Starter?
To get the best results in sourdough bread baking, having a healthy and active sourdough starter is essential.
- A healthy sourdough starter has been routinely cared by discarding or using the bulk and feeding the small remainder. This cycle of discarding the bulk or using it in a recipe and feeding the remainder is called refreshing the starter. A neglected sourdough starter or unhealthy sourdough starter is one that has been sitting uncared for in the fridge for a week or more. If you have a sourdough starter in desperate need of care, read this post: Is my sourdough starter dead?
- An active sourdough starter is the stage after a healthy sourdough starter has been refreshed. A small portion of old sourdough starter is fed with a larger portion of water and all-purpose flour—my ratio is about 10% old sourdough starter and 90% water and flour by weight. The fed sourdough starter rises at room temperature. Once it doubles in volume, has large bubbles, smells like ripe fruit, and is just past the peak of the rise is the ideal active window. You don’t want to use it when the starter is creating a dome because that means it is not to its peak yet. To get the sourdough starter just past the peak, wait for it to relax and just begin to fall about a millimeter or so.
A healthy, active starter will give your bread dough the most vigorous wild yeasts for an excellent rise and texture. To review sourdough starter care and stages, see this post: What is a sourdough starter?
- Food scale
- Stand Mixer with a dough hook attachment
- Plastic bowl scraper
- Food thermometer
- Heat-safe measuring carafe
- 4-qt. Cambro container with lid
Mixing Enriched Bread Dough
Mixing and kneading enriched dough is a very important step to create good fermentation and texture for best results in the sourdough bread recipe.
First, scald the milk to neutralize proteins that interfere with fermentation and letting it cool down to no higher than 90 degrees F. Whole milk is best and adds a richness to the dough. Making sure it is cool enough when adding to a large mixing bowl will protect your active sourdough starter from damage.
Then, wait to add the egg until after I have mixed the ingredients into a shaggy, rough dough—about 4 to 8 stirs to partially combine ingredients. This allows the temperature of the ingredients to evenly distribute.
Kneading Enriched Bread Dough
Continue mixing and kneading the ingredients until you form a soft, smooth ball and the dough pulls away from the sides of the large mixing bowl, stand mixing bowl, or the kneading surface. If you are mixing by hand and are getting fatigued by kneading, cover the rough dough with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 10 minutes then come back to it. Dough rest will continue the strengthening of the gluten that kneading develops. Uncover the dough and begin kneading again when the time is up.
Reserve the softened unsalted butter until this soft, smooth ball of dough is formed. Then knead the butter into the dough one tablespoon at time until the butter disappears into the dough.
Once all the butter is incorporated into the dough and it is smooth, soft and no longer sticky, transfer dough into a clean bowl or a cambro container for the bulk fermentation stage.
Note: You can use an electric stand mixer with a dough hook. Use the lowest 2 to 3 speeds and make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a bowl scraper regularly. This will speed up the kneading process and give your arms a break.
Bulk Fermentation for Sourdough Sweet & Soft Bread Master Recipe
Bulk fermentation also known as first rise for this master recipe is 4 to 8 hours. This range depends on ingredient temperature and room temperature of your kitchen.
Because the milk is warm, it will speed up the bulk fermentation. In warm weather, expect the timing to be 4 to 6 hours and in cold weather, expect 6 to 8 hours for bulk fermentation.
A tool I prefer to use to gauge my bulk fermentation is a Cambro container. I use this 4-qt. one for single batches of this master recipe. Once your dough is mixed according to the instructions, transfer dough to the Cambro container and close.
For more information on bulk fermentation and how to tell when it is complete, read this post: How to tell when sourdough is done with bulk fermentation
Shaping Sourdough Sweet & Soft Bread Master Recipe Variations
The shaping stage is where the variability and creativity happen. This is when the dough is shaped and/or filled with different ingredients to make the final recipe.
Refer to the specific recipe instructions for shaping and/or filling your master dough.
Proofing for Sourdough Sweet & Soft Master Bread Recipe
Cover the shaped sweet and soft bread dough with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours for the proof (also known as the second rise). The shaped bread dough should rise to 1 1/2 to 2 times in volume. See this post for how to know when proofing is complete: When is sourdough finished proofing? The signs and a test
If you want to delay the fermentation to bake your sourdough bread recipe at a later time, see this post for how to time plan your bake and delay the proofing especially if you’d like your bread for breakfast on the next morning.
Sourdough Recipes to Use this Sweet and Soft Master Recipe
- Easy Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Recipe (Soft and Fluffy)
- Easy & Soft Savory Sourdough Cheese Twist Rolls
- Skillet Sourdough Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread Recipe
- Sourdough Parker Rolls coming soon
- Skillet Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls (Use this recipe for the dough and then start at the make the filling step using the listed filling ingredients)
Savor and Share Sweet and Soft Sourdough Bread Master Recipe
Help your friends feel like a pro sourdough baker by sharing this easy master recipe!
And if you make something with it, I’d love to hear about it–you can comment on this post or tag me on instagram @livingbreadbaker!
Need more sourdough help?
A competent guide is the big difference from floundering in sourdough with information overwhelm to having confidence and ease in your sourdough baking.
If you are just starting on your sourdough journey, you can get my free Quick Start Sourdough Guide to begin learning some of the key terms and concepts in sourdough. Learn the difference between the sourdough stages of active sourdough starter and sourdough discard as well as how to care for a starter.
You can learn and improve your sourdough baking skills with my books or online courses.
My Intro. to Sourdough online course is comprehensive with video tutorials for each stage of the process to help new or aspiring sourdough home bakers gain a solid foundation for sourdough, the traditional way, to learn all the basics, language, techniques, and the process from start to finish to make sourdough bread. My teaching is straight forward and makes the whole process seem simple. I have helped launch hundreds of eager sourdough bakers onto their own inspiring sourdough journeys.
I also have a Once-a-Week No Knead Sourdough online course, which is my strategy for busy weeks to have sourdough on hand ready to make into country bread, sandwich loaves, English muffins, pizza, bagels, and more! This course is great for absolute sourdough beginners to just get familiarity with sourdough or for veteran sourdough bakers who need to simplify their baking schedule.
Living Bread Baker posts mentioned
Shop this post
Stand Mixer with a dough hook attachment
This post contains affiliate links. Read my policy here.
Simple Sweet Sourdough Master Recipe
- 15-20 g sourdough starter 1 T.
- 60 grams all-purpose or bread flour 7 tablespoons
- 60 grams water 1⁄4 cup
- 100 g whole milk warmed (see step 2)
- 40 g water
- 30 g sugar
- 100 g active sourdough starter
- 375 g all purpose flour
- 4 g vanilla 1 t.
- 7 g salt 1 t.
- 1 egg
- 45 g unsalted butter, softened 3 T.
- Mix together the starter ingredients. Leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours until doubled in volume with large bubbles.
- Measure milk into a small pot. Add 15-20g extra to allow for evaporation.
- Heat over medium heat until you see steam rising off the milk. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes or until the milk is no higher than 80-90 degrees.
- While milk is cooling, measure water into the bowl and gather ingredients together (mise en place) Add milk once it has cooled off to 90 degrees or less.
- Add the 30g sugar, 100g active sourdough starter, 375g all purpose flour, 4g vanilla, and 3g salt. Stir the mixture together 4-8 times until the ingredients are partially added then add the egg. Knead until all the ingredients are incorporated and there is no more dry flour. Dough should be smooth.
- Cut softened butter into smaller pieces. Add the softened butter into the dough. Knead the dough until the butter is completely mixed into the dough and no longer visible. Dough should be smooth, elastic, and no longer sticking to hands or bowl when it is kneaded adequately.
- Cover the dough and leave at room temperature to ferment for 4-8 hours until doubled in volume.
- Once the dough has doubled, shape dough depending on recipe instructions.
- After the dough is shaped, it should be covered with plastic wrap and proofed for 2-3 hours at room temperature.
- Baking and cooling instructions depend on the recipe you are using the Master dough in.