Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Overnight sponge and dough method bread


Recently, I came across a method called "overnight sponge dough." 
I thought that it would be a quicker version of sourdough. Is that right? 
Wikipedia says, "The sponge and dough method is a two-step bread making process: in the first step a sponge is made and allowed to ferment for a period of time, and in the second step the sponge is added to the final dough's ingredients, creating the total formula."  Hmmm....Fascinating stuff. 
So, why this method? "The sponge method is used for 3 different reasons: taste, texture and chemistry.  
The flavour that is created is dependent on the ingredients used and the fermenting yeast. Just like sourdough, the longer the ferment, the greater the taste difference."
So, I thought to myself, why not try this. I did further research and created my recipe.  It was a really sticky job as the dough was wet and difficult to work with.   However, I was happy with the result.   
The bread had a very fine structure, was silky smooth and had a slightly sour flavour compared to the normal bread I make (click here to see) but was much milder than sourdough bread. It also had a very thin crust and a soft and moist interior. I should say there are some issues to deal with like the balance of the quantity of water and flour.  My friend Catherine used 190g flour at the 2nd stage which is a bit more flour than the original recipe. She did really well on her amended version. It's the matter of the ratio of flour and water after all.  Anyway, I've got an idea to make this "Sponge and Dough method bread" easier. I mean to create a dough which is easier to handle.   I'll post the new recipe, so watch this space. 
Meanwhile, here are the ingredients and the method I used for my first sponge and dough method bread.   

Ingredients
For the sponge
  • 225ml warm water (about 30-35C)
  • 1 level tsp easy-blend yeast
  • 175g strong white bread flour

For the dough
  • 175g strong white bread flour
  • 1 level tsp fine salt
  • 25g olive oil

Method
  1. In a big mixing bowl add the warm water and stir in the yeast.  Add the flour, stir it up well with a wooden spoon, cover the bowl and leave overnight.
  2. When you're ready to make your dough, put the second batch of flour (175g) into the yeast batter.  Add salt and olive oil, then mix well.
  3. Lightly flour the work surface and knead the dough for 10 minutes, then cover and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in height (about 2 hours).
  4. When the dough is ready, knock it back (pushing it away from the sides with your knuckles) and tip it onto a work surface.
  5. Mould the dough into rugby ball shapes and place them on a baking tray. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for 30 mins. Dust the top of the loaf with a little more flour and slash the top with a sharp knife if you want.
  6. Heat oven to 220C/ fan 200C/ gas 7.
  7. Pour hot water onto the bottom of the oven or into a dish at the bottom of the oven to create steam. 
  8. Bake the bread for 15 mins, then reduce the heat to 190C /fan 170C/gas 5 and continue to bake for 30 mins until the loaf sounds hollow when removed from the oven and tapped on the base. Leave the bread on a wire rack to cool completely