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quarter sponge

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Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

I wanted to make some bread according to the Quarter Sponge Method as outlined by Elizabeth David / Walter Banfield ever since I came across it more than a year ago.

The details are intriguing: A standard metod used to make "Batch Bread" in Scotland well into the thirties, it uses a long fermentation process and a minimal amount of yeast. A sachet of yeast will make about 30Kg of bread!

The result of my first bake: As close to shop bought sandwich bread as one can get - just with flour, water, salt, yeast and a 16 hour fermentation!

Here some pictures; details follow.

The overall appearance of my 1kg loaf:

The crust in more detail:

And the crumb:

The loaf looks very appealing; the crumb is dense and regular, but fluffy. And the walls of the small bubbles have the translucency of well fermented dough.

The taste is ... neutral. Just plain neutral, but in a pleasant way. Great with cream cheese and salmon, or salami, or marmalade. 

Quite a surprise.

The formula is given by David in industrial amounts (200Kg batch size). I haven't got the proofing space, so I decided to scale it down.

Here the original formula:

Quarter Sponge Process after Elizabeth David / Walter Banfield 




 
Total IngredientsOriginal
g convertedBakers %
Flour280lb125,440.00100.000
Yeast6oz168.000.134
salt7lb3,136.002.500
water15.5gal70,463.0056.173
malt extract8oz224.000.179
Yield

199,431.00158.985





Initial Sponge14 hours at DT 21C


Flour (strong)64lb28,672.0022.857
yeast6oz168.000.134
salt8oz224.000.179
water3.75gal17,047.5013.590



46,111.5036.760
Second Stage Sponge1 hour at DT 27C"batter sponge"

Flour (strong)100lb44,800.0035.714
Water11gal50,006.0039.864
Salt1.75lb784.000.625
Malt extract8oz224.000.179
Initial sponge from above

46,111.5036.760



141,925.50113.142
Third stage sponge1 hour at DT 26C


Flour (soft)116lb51,968.0041.429
Water0.75gal3,409.502.718
Salt4.75lb2,128.001.696
Batter sponge from above

141,925.50113.142



199,431.00158.985
Then ready for kneading, dividing and moulding













1lb448g
1gal4546g
1oz28g

 

I adjusted overall salt to 2% and estimated the modern yeast to be a lot stronger, the formula I used was:

Quarter Sponge Process after Elizabeth David / Walter BanfieldExpected Yield1,000.0
Factor6.3
Total IngredientsBakers %Weight
Flour100.00631.2
Water56.17354.6
Malt Extract0.181.1
Yeast (fresh)0.080.5
Salt2.0012.6
Yield158.431,000.0



Initial Sponge; ferment 14 hours at 21C
Flour22.86144.3
water13.5985.8
yeast (instant)0.030.2
salt0.181.1

36.65231.3
Second Stage Sponge; ferment 1 hour at 26C, "Batter Sponge"
Flour35.71225.4
Water39.86251.6
Salt0.633.9
Malt extract0.181.1
Initial sponge from above36.65231.3

113.03713.5
Third stage sponge; ferment 1.5 hours at 26C
Flour41.43261.5
Water2.7217.2
Salt1.207.6
Batter sponge from above113.03713.5

158.38999.7

 

After the Third Stage Sponge (Final Dough) had rested, I kneaded, divided and shaped, followed by another 1.5 hours rest.

The dough was very pleasant to work with, despite the low hydration (using Bacheldre organic stoneground bakers white flour).

Baked with steam in a falling oven to 210C for 45 minutes. 

An interesting experience.

Happy Baking,

Juergen

 

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