25 July 2011

Wholemeal Bread (sponge starter method)

After my success with the water roux method of bread-making, I thought I'd give the sponge method a try. 

My first attempt last week resulted in a disappointing loaf. The recipe for the sponge had such a high proportion of flour that the sponge didn't develop the way it's supposed to be. So it took forever for the dough to rise, and the resulting loaf was dense.

This time round, after more Googling - what would we do without Google these days - I reduced the flour for the sponge starter, and it foamed up beautifully. However, I still didn't get the nice rise I got from my water roux loaf. Could it have been the wholemeal flour that caused the heavier and denser dough? Or was it the method?

With the water roux method, the bread also lasted several days, retaining it's soft and fluffy texture. But for this sponge bread, it turned dry and crumbly after two days. Does this happen for you too?

Many of you have a lot more experience in bread making than I do. So if you have any tips for me and the other readers, or if you'd just like to share your experience, I'd love to hear from you. Which bread-making method do you favour? What's the 'trick' to soft fluffy bread - is it the method, or some secret ingredient?

Here's the recipe I used...

Sponge Starter:
65g bread flour
20g sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
125ml warm water

50g wholemeal flour
170g bread flour
1 tsp salt
10g milk powder
1 egg
2 tbs water
20g margarine

Combine all sponge starter ingredients and set aside for about 30 min till foamy.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in another bowl, then add the starter. Mix everything together till a dough forms. Knead for about 10 min till dough is smooth. Then place in a well-oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap and let it rise for about 45 min till double in size.

Punch down the dough to release the air. Let it rest for 5-10 min.
Shape dough into a loaf and place in a greased and floured loaf tin. Let it proof for about 30 min till double in size. Before baking, sprinkle some flour over the top (optional).

Bake at 180*C for 30 min.
Remove from loaf tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.



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