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Old 06-08-2007, 03:59 PM   #1
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ISO Sponging Bread

Well, I am slowly learning about how breads work and the sciences involved in bread making, but I have heard a terminology that I know little about and would love to hear what this is and how it effects any bread made from scratch.

And all I do know is that soaking dough is not the same as sponging dough


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Old 06-08-2007, 04:23 PM   #2
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Do you mean "sponging the yeast" by any chance? I always make a sponge, or starter, when making Italian bread, and especially if I am making a San Francisco style sourdough bread. Here's the sponge from my Italian bread recipe:


1 1/2 cups warm (105F) water
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl and mix in a Kitchen Aid mixer, with a dough hook, on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until a stiff, elastic batter is formed. Divide the starter into two equal pieces. Wrap one piece in oiled plastic wrap and freeze for later use. Place the remaining starter into an oiled glass bowl, cover, and allow to rise until triple in volume. This should take about 8 hours at room temperature or at least 14 hours in the refrigerator.

For sourdough, I use organic grapes to suck the wild yeast spoors right out of thin air.

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Old 06-09-2007, 12:50 PM   #3
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This is what my girlfried wrote to me about sponging.

Sponging and soaking are much the same. The main difference is that the yeast is included for sponging as well as the honey; pretty much everything except for the last bit of flour and the salt. Sponging can be as short as 30 minutes and up to a few hours. Soaking is usually only flour, water and an acid such as vinegar, buttermilk or lemon juice.

Both methods’ purpose is to begin breaking down the bran of the whole grains by breaking down and neutralizing the phytase. The debate is whether one is truly greater than the other as far as nutrition and breaking down of the phytase. Some debate the 24 hours is needed, while others debate the soaking with the yeast and sweetener breaks the phytase down as well as multiple risings.

As for my personal opinion: I have tried both methods and we seem to have more consistent results with lighter and softer bread using the sponging method.

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Old 06-17-2007, 06:46 AM   #4
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Phytase is an enzyme. I think your friend is thinking of phytic acid
Phytic acid (known as phytate when its salt form) is the principal storage form of phosphorus in in many plant tissues, especially seeds. Phosphorus in this form is generally not bioavailable to non-ruminant animals because they lack the digestive enzyme, phytase, required to separate phosphorus from the phytate molecule. On the other hand, ruminants readily utilize phytate because of the phytase produced by rumen microorganisms.
For more info see the wikipedia article Phytic acid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

> sponge - all of the yeast and all (or most) of the liquid in the recipe are combined with sufficient flour from the recipe to form a medium to heavy batter. The sponge is allowed to rise at room temperature until approximately doubled in bulk (1 to 3 hours). The remaining ingredients are added and the dough is kneaded. The resulting dough has one bulk fermentation and a final rise "in the pan" (or "on the board" or "in the banneton" - depends on the bread)

> poolish - a fermented (yeast-risen) batter used as one ingredient in a subsequent bread recipe. Flour and water are combined with a very small amount of yeast and allowed to ferment at cool temperatures (in the 60sF or in the refrigerator) for 6 to 12 hours. Classic poolish is equal amounts by weight of flour and water, plus the small amount of yeast. The final recipe has additional flour, water, yeast, salt and other ingredients.

> soaker - adding water to whole grain flour/cracked grain to soften the bran. No yeast is added. Cool or room temperature water is generally used for fine to medium flour; hot water is generally used for very coarse flour or cracked grain. Soaking time and the amount of water used vary widely according to recipe and desired results.

An excellent discussion of using whole grains in bread may be found in the Winter 07 issue of the San Francisco Baking Institute Newsletter at http://www.sfbi.com/pdfs/SFBINewsWI07.pdf
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