The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Italian bread sponge question

chetc's picture

Italian bread sponge question

I have this Italian bread recipe it calls for a sponge or Biga which calls for 2 tsp yeast, 2 cups warm water & 3 cups bread flour the remaining recipe calls for3 tbl sugar, 3 tbl olive oil, 3 cups flour & 1 tbl salt

  the recipe says to let the sponge rest for 1 hr then add the rest of the ingredients and knead for 10 min let raise 1 hr punch down and form into loaves let raise for 30 min and bake, the main question I have is I would like to make the sponge before I go to bed and continue in the morning with the rest of the recipe, so would there be any difference if I add the yeast to the sponge because it is resting 7hrs vs 1 as the recipe calls for. or add the yeast in the morning, any advantage of letting the sponge set for the 7hrs with or without the yeast. any effect either way on oven spring.


bottleny's picture

The short answer is that you need to adjust the amount of yeast in the biga or poolish for different fermentation time.

This article can give some ideas about how this works.

Chuck's picture

...would there be any difference if I add the yeast to the sponge because it is resting...

Yes. Any pre-ferment (sponge, biga, poolish, pate fermentee) is supposed (as the name indicates) to ferment, and thus includes yeast. (I can't at the moment come up with the reasoning behind this "rule" though:-)

(IMHO your overnight sponge fermentation will be better anyway; I'm used to a "sponge" taking several hours to develop, and my guess is the '1 hour' is pushing awfully hard for speed. You will of course need to adjust the amount of yeast, as noted by the previous post.)

The word 'resting' in that recipe is very unfortunate, possibly giving the impression the step is an "autolyse" when it's not.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

without the salt or the yeast, letting it sit overnight or longer (as you suggest) and add the yeast & salt separately in the morning.  Spread out and sprinkle with instant yeast and roll up and knead half a minute to distribute.  Shape into a ball and cover with a bowl.  After it relaxes (20 -30 minutes) spread dough out again sprinkle with salt, roll up and knead to distribute.  Shape into a ball, cover and let bulk rise.  

I find I get the advantage of aging the dough without a runaway ferment with a quick bulk rise when I want it.  The texture is great and flavour much improved over a freshly combined dough.  The dough without yeast can stand a long time, 24 hrs at 23°C or even days in the fridge well protected from drying out.  It won't rise and threaten anybody so it takes up less room than a yeasted dough.  

With only 7 hours, you might choose to add a pinch of yeast to the dough in the beginning.  The rest later depending on temperature.   Try it and see what works for you.