The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


petercook's picture

Sponge timing and amounts

April 12, 2012 - 1:34pm -- petercook

I am a bit confused about creating a sponge. Some bread book authors use a little as a 60% hydration while others use as much as 151% hydration. With that said I'd like to know if my sponge making can be improved.

1/4 cup of warm water, 1/8 tsp dry yeast, mixed and set aside.

1/4 cup of warm water and 2 tblsp of the yeasted water (throw away the rest)

1/2 cup of unbleached whole wheat flour

mix by hand for 2 minutes, cover tightly and set aside at room temp for 14-24 hours or until it triples. refridgerate until ready to use.

autopi's picture

when to retard dough--before or after shaping?

February 2, 2010 - 6:41pm -- autopi

i have been baking loaves out of BBA for a couple months now with good to very good results. i have one question which i haven't been able to figure out, and would appreciate thoughts on. sometimes reinhart says to mix up the dough and then stick it in the fridge overnight, and then let it rise, shape, proof & bake the next day. for instance, i believe his poolish baguette formula is like this.

kathunter's picture

Rye Bread Starter - Help!

January 19, 2010 - 5:44am -- kathunter


I'm trying to make my second rye starter. The first one is a big lump in the refrigerator waiting to see the bottom of the trash can.  With the second start I have going, I should be ready to start Phase 4 according to my recipe but the starter does not look like what the description in the recipe tells me it should look like.  Through the glass bowl I can see it is bubbling on the bottom but it has not doubled in size.  Should I go on to Phase 4 or wait another day?

Koyae's picture

Poolish -- First "Flight" -- Questions -- All-Poolish Loaf? Adjusting for Hydration after Soak, and, and....

December 20, 2009 - 3:56pm -- Koyae

'Just tried to do a sourdough loaf with presoak and had it end up /very/ doughy. I've been learning for a few weeks now because most commercially-available breads are absolute garbage health-wise, and the good stuff (from the farmers' market or frozen at the natural foods -stores) runs a good $6-per loaf. I'm determined to learn and not afraid of making mistakes (as you'll soon learn.)

Anyway, trial went something like:

parousia's picture

After 1 year from the birth of our son I have returned to baking bread. The steam thing for crust and rise has never worked for me with certainty, and my wife thinks that it is a bit overly dramatic to have plumes of steam in the kitchen. So, I started to get the outer surface of the loaf really wet and every 5 min(for the first 15-20 until starts rising) remove the loaf and re-wet. All this from a cold start.

A child has been a phenomenal aid to the motivation of time management and systematic trial and error.  For those visual learners out there, I would like to share this side by side comparison below.

It seems that the loaf did not quite double. As can be seen by the rip at the upper left, it could have proofed a while longer, maybe until it showed a more pronounced clearing of the lip of the bread tin. The wetting technique allowed me to get this rise whereas before with steam I could not.

Below are 3 pictures:

  1. The first successful sourdough 65% hydration.
    1. Crust was way too thick on the sides from the baking tin(450deg and too long time)

  1. Same sided by second loaf same formula(for size and rise comparison).
    1. The first had just crested the lip of the baking tin but expanded to fill the shape of the tin.

  1. The second loaf but the horizontal consequence of over proofing.
    1. filled with sharp cheddar and cracked pepper, while a monster to look at, it is to be reckoned with next to a pot of homade chicken soup.

      Strangely the second loaf at 65% hydration, when folding, when overproofed felt more like 85% hydration at mixing.

Merry Breadmas and may this season be full of life to you and your kitchen,


mkelly27's picture

It's Thursday night and you just refreshed your starter(s).

September 6, 2007 - 7:28pm -- mkelly27

Here it is Thursday night, you've got your starter refreshed and ready to go. What schedule do the rest of you follow to pull your breads in time for Sunday breakfast?


Mine starts tomorrow, Friday afternoon, when I build my sponges, I work 1/2 days on Sat. so I come home and build my doughs and end up baking till about 12 pm on Sat. Is there a better schedule? maybe starting on Thurs. and retarding overnight on Friday?

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