Making bread takes time and effort so why not use a method that ensures tasty bread that keeps well. The sponge method is an old way of bread-making that is an efficient use of yeast. While this method does take longer, nearly a day, you don’t spend much time actually dealing with the bread. The sponge method lets the bread do much of the work itself.
The sponge method lets the yeast work for a long time in the absence of salt, which inhibits yeast action. Having all night to work, the yeast will stretch the sponge forming gluten – you will be quite surprised at how much the sponge rises in this time. This also makes the dough very elastic which makes it easier for you to work in the remaining ingredients and requires less kneading.
This bread, if it takes more than a day to eat it, keeps very well just by placing it cut end down on your cutting board.
- 3 cups warm water
- 1/10 package of yeast (save the rest of the package) – or 1/4 teaspoon
- 2.5 cups flour
Remaining Bread Ingredients
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 package plus remainder of the first package of yeast – or 4 1/4 teaspoons
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 to 4 cups flour
Method – Night Before
Measure the 3 cups of warm water into a large bowl.
Stir in the 1/4 teaspoon of yeast and 2.5 cups flour. Beat for 3 to 5 minutes, cover and leave until morning.
Method – Making the Loaves
Put the 1/2 cup warm water in a measuring cup or small bowl and add the 4 1/4 teaspoons of yeast. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
Stir yeast mixture into last night’s sponge.
Add the 2 teaspoons of salt to the sponge and mix in. Add 3 cups of the flour a 1/2 cup to a cup at a time stirring well. Turn it out on the counter with more flour to keep it from sticking and knead for 5 minutes.
Put the dough in an oiled bowl for 3 hours to rise. Keep it covered in a warm place.
Punch down the dough and shape into two loaves. You can either make round loaves or bake in a pan. To make round loaves, form into a ball and then stretch the top folding it under a few times to get a smooth round loaf. Put on a greased baking sheet.
If you want to bake it in a pan roll it out flat and then roll it up into a log shape. Fold the ends under and put into a greased loaf pan.
Let rise again for one hour.
Method – Baking the Loaf
Brush water on the top of the loaves and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 45 minutes. When they are done baking, the loaves should be brown on the top and bottom and sound hollow when you tap them
Serving and Storing
Bread is always wonderful just out of the oven but will cut easier if you let it sit for 10 minutes first. Saves best sitting on your counter on a cutting board.
Good luck and enjoy it.