- Sponge: 24 to 48 hours in advance
- Dough Prep time: 15 minutes
- First rise: 2 hours
- Second rise: 1½ hours
- Baking time: 35 minutes
- 1½ cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅓ cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
Ingredients To Add To Sponge:
- 2½ teaspoons salt
- 4¾ to 5¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
Cornmeal for Baking Sheets:
In a large bowl dissolve yeast and sugar in 1½ cups warm water.
- Add yogurt, sourdough starter and 2 cups flour; stir for 1 minute.
- Batter will have the consistency of soft pudding.
- This is your sponge.
- Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let it rest in a warm place, free from drafts, overnight. The longer the sponge ferments, the better the flavor of the bread.
- Transfer the sponge to a heavy duty mixer bowl.
- Add salt and 2 cups of flour to the work bowl with the sponge in it.
- Using an electric mixer or the paddle attachment for a stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Remove mixer or paddle attachments from bowl.
- Insert a dough hook into the stand mixer.
Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that is smooth and elastic.
- Wash out the bowl the sponge was in and coat with oil.
- Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat all sides.
- Cover with slightly damp flour sack towel.
- Let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk; 1½ to 2 hours.
- Grease 2 cookie sheets and set aside.
- If you are using a wood paddle and pizza stone for baking, dust the paddle with flour and set aside.
- Punch down dough.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface.
- Knead for 30 seconds.
- Cover the dough and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide dough in half.
- Shape dough into smooth logs for oblong shaped loaves. For a round loaves, shape dough into 2 balls. For long baguettes, shape accordingly.
- Place dough on prepared baking sheet(s) or bread paddle.
- Cover with a dry towel. Let rise until double in bulk; about 1½ hours.
- Place one oven rack in lowest position in the oven.
- Place a second oven rack one or two positions up from the lowest rack.
- If using pizza stone place on second rack.
- Leave enough space between the racks for a shallow roasting pan.
- Place a shallow roasting pan on first oven rack.
- Pour 2 cups of boiling water into the shallow roasting pan.
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Slash top of oblong loaf with 5 diagonal slashes. If you are baking a round loaf, slash with 3 horizontal slashes and 3 vertical slashes, making a tic-tac-toe design.
- Mix together 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon water to make a glaze. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to separate eggs.
- Brush the loaves with the egg white glaze.
- Place the loaves in the oven either directly on pizza stone or on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the loaves from the oven and brush with the egg white glaze.
- Remove the shallow roasting dish from oven.
- Bake loaves 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom.
- Brush the loaves a third time with the egg white glaze, bake 5 more minutes.
- Remove from oven.
- Place loaf on a rack to cool.
- Cool for 30 minutes, slice and serve.