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The sponge is made with your starter and left overnight. This is the method which commercial bakers used when producing the bread our grandparents remember from their childhood. It sounds complicated but once you have tried it it will become the basis for your breadmaking. From here you can go on to produce many kinds of bread with all the various available kinds of flour.
This recipe produces 2.7 kg of dough. If you do not have a machine capable of mixing this amount, then you will need to scale the recipe down.
Recommended Reading: Get started with baking by reading our Ultimate Guide to the Best Baking Equipment for Beginners!
Mix the sponge by mixing
- 170 g of starter,
- 225 g of water
- 315 g of white flour.
- 25 g of organic rye flour
- 15 g of malt extract
The organic rye helps the fermentation process. Mix using a wooden spoon and leave covered with cling film in a bowl or bread proofing basket overnight. This sponge will bubble away quite happily, possibly rising and falling twice. The next day it will have a beautiful yeasty smell and a slightly shiny surface.
Now you are ready to make your dough. The kind of flour you use will govern the amount of water you need. Many home bakers prefer stiffer dough as they find this is easier to shape and not so prone to collapsing when proving. The amount of water given here it is for good quality white bread flour mixed in a planetary mixer. All flour does vary in its water take up so always add the last 5% if the dough needs it.
The Main Dough
- All the sponge from yesterday
- 350 g white flour,
- 15 g of salt,
- 75 g of fat (Lard makes wonderful bread but not if vegetarians will eat your bread)
- 15 g of sugar
- 570 g of water. approximately
- Mix thoroughly.
- Leave to rise in a warm place covered with a damp cloth until doubled in size.
- Then knock back and weigh and shape into rounds of the required size.
- Leave to recover until doubled again.
- Now finally mould into loaves, French Sticks, Round cobs or bread buns.
- Leave to recover. This method uses three rises. Most books only use two; the extra one is the key to fully flavoured well risen bread. It is what professional traditional bakers do.
- At this stage to stop the bread drying out you can try spraying with one of the low calorie sprays sold for frying. Or you can simply cover with a damp cloth.
- Heat your oven to at least 225°C to set the bread.
- Put a tin of boiling water in the oven 10 minutes before starting to bake.
- Then you can reduce the heat to 200°C for the baking period.
- Then load the bread into the oven.
- Use a spray of water on the oven sides and floor to get as much steam into the oven as you can. This both helps the crust and helps the dough to have some “oven spring”.
- Allow 40 Minutes for a 600 gm loaf, but you know your oven.
- Turn the bread half way through baking.
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