Many of you know that I am a great advocate of using old starter added to bread dough to enhance flavor, texture, and keeping quality, but much to my regret, not everyone is willing to make, buy, or maintain a starter. There are, however, other ways to introduce extra flavor into bread dough that are really quite simple. My favorite easy method is used in many of my recipes in The Bread Bible. It involves making a sponge with all of the water used in the recipe, equal volume (1 1/2 times the weight) of the flour, and half the yeast and allowing it to sit from 1 to 4 hours before mixing the rest of the dough. But did you know that using just a total of one quarter of the yeast means you can let it sit at room temperature overnight which gives you more leeway time-wise. By the way, the total amount of yeast in the bread dough remains the same, you simply add less to the sponge and more to the final dough in the second stage of mixing.It is a good thing to keep in mind when you need to slow down fermentation. You can experiment with how much yeast to add depending on the amount of time you want it to ferment and the temperature depending or the time of year. In Summer you may need to lower the yeast, in Winter increase it. YOU have the control!
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