The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


RachelJ's picture


Hello again! Its me with another question. :) I'm always asking questions and never answering anyones, though I really do appreciate the answers I got. Thanks to all who commented.

What I would like to know is what exactly does sponging do? And I read in a bread recipe that sponging makes whole wheat bread lighter, and a little more airy. I've never sponged anything. I'd love to make sourdough bread, but alas I've no sourdough starter so it will have to wait. :) I will sometime though.

So anyone who knows anything about this topic, I'd love to hear what you've got to say.

From an earnest bread maker,

pmccool's picture

if done consistently.  ;-)

In bread terms, though, creating a sponge has beneficial effects.  The biggest benefit is flavor since the extended ferment time for the sponge itself releases additional flavor compounds from the flour.  To a lesser degree, a sponge also contributes to gluten development by thoroughly hydrating the portion of the flour in the sponge; you could almost think of it as a yeasted autolyse.  And, if you are a real tightwad, ahem, thrifty, you could even skip additional yeast for the final dough since you have been farming yeast in the sponge.


hutchndi's picture

If  you don't want to try to create your own starter there are many for sale on the web and the free one from Carl's and my favorite method of finding someone in your area that is willing to share. I have recieved a few starters in the mail from other hobbiests that worked well no matter how they were packaged, dried flakes or powder, even globs in sandwich baggies.

By the way, has anybody ever considered how this might be mistaken for terrorist anthrax mailings?

Oldcampcook's picture

When I mail out starters, my return address label has "Sourdough Bread Starters" right on it.

And sometimes I mark "NATURAL YEAST"  on front and back with a marker.

I also seal EVERY seam with transparent tape.  Sometimes mailing machines catch the edges and tear the envelope apart.



Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

I'd be happy to share some whole wheat starter with you. I recieved my starter from Erik H on this forum and have since converted to a whole wheat and a rye starter.

Let me know if you're interested. Best to do while it's still cold out here in Phoenix.