White Bread with Sponge Starter

White Bread with Sponge Starter

Makes 2 loaves

Source: Adapted from Joy of Cooking


A lovely country loaf that doesn't require you being available at 1 hour intervals.  The slow rising provides lots of flavor, but also allows large blocks of time for you to devote to other activities.  Beginning to end, it will take up to 24 hours.  But there is lots of flexibility in-between.

Sponge Starter:

tsp

active dry yeast

 

 

 

 

cup

lukewarm water (100F)[38C]

 

 

125

ml

cup

bread flour

4

ounces

115

grams

Combine the yeast and the water in a medium bowl and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Add the flour and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until you notice elastic strands pulling away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes.   Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until bubbly and tripled in volume, about 6 hours.  Or let the starter rise for about 14 hours (overnight) in the refrigerator.

Bread Dough:

1

recipe

Sponge Starter

 

 

 

 

2

cups

room-temperature water (72-75F) [23C]

500

ml

4

cups

bread flour

22

ounces

640

grams

Tbs

salt

 

 

15

ml

2

 Tbs

oil

 

 

30

ml

1

tsp

sugar

 

 

5

ml

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, or food processor.
Process or knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with oil.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let rise until doubled in volume, about 3 hours in a warm place (75-80F) or about 6 hours at room temperature.

Divide the dough in half and shape each into a baguette or round, then place the shaped loaves onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
Or, place all the dough in a parchment-lined loaf pan.

Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature, 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400F  [200C]. If using an oven with a fan, heat to 375F [190C].
Bake baguettes for 30-35 minutes, loaf pan 35 minutes and round loaves for 40 minutes.
Cool completely on a rack.

Note: 

You may replace 4 ounces of the bread flour with whole-wheat (whole meal) or rye flour. I personally prefer rye. You can also make a hearty whole wheat version by substituting half of the bread flour with whole wheat bread flour.

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