Baker Bettie

The Sponge Mixing Method for Bread Making

Understand the sponge method used for bread making and how and when this method is used for mixing yeast dough. 

Shaping dough by hand

The Sponge Method for Mixing Yeast Dough Overview

There are three main mixing methods used for making yeast bread dough: The Straight Dough Method, The Modified Straight Dough Method, and The Sponge Method. The ingredients are mixed together in two steps with the sponge mixing method. The first step is to create the sponge, also known as a preferment.

What is a Sponge (aka a Preferment)?

A preferment is when some of the ingredients of the yeast dough are mixed together before the whole dough is made. This mixture is allowed to ferment for a period of time before the rest of the ingredients are added. This process creates more depth of flavor and also produces bread with a lighter and fluffier texture.

Sponge (preferment) before mixing the rest of the dough

Sponge (preferment) before mixing the rest of the dough

Procedure for The Sponge Mixing Method

Step 1: Make the Sponge

The liquid, all or part of the yeast, and about half of the total quantity of flour are mixed together. This makes a thick batter that will be left to ferment until it is double in bulk.

Step 2: Make the Dough

After the sponge has doubled in size, deflate the air out of it and add the rest of the ingredients. Proceed with the recipe for making the bread.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Sponge Mixing Method for Yeast Bread

The sponge mixing method produces breads that have much more complex flavors and a lighter texture. This method is particularly desirable for whole grain breads. The sponge method does, however, create a longer process for the bread from start to finish.

Bread Recipes Utilizing the Sponge Mixing Method

It should be noted that the sponge mixing method can be used for any bread recipes even if it doesn’t specifically call for this method.

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13 comments on “The Sponge Mixing Method for Bread Making”

  1. Help!  I am not able to open the link to Modern Sponge White Bread

  2. yesss-I’ve made quite a few breads with the sponge method but didn’t know it was called that! So cool!

  3. Dear Bette,

    I live in the Amazon area of Ecuador in a city of about 25,000. I moved from the U.S. where I made my own bread for many years. Bakeries here make only rolls and the loaf bread that is available in our two grocery stores is not great. So, of course, that has made me scour the Internet for recipes. New methods are evolving all the time. It’s good to keep up.

    I packed ‘my world’ of possessions in only suitcases, which over time, took a while to get here (through kindness of friends who brought some down for me) so my kitchen stuff is here, minus the one thing I miss: my Kichen Aid stand mixer. Shipping things later means paying a big tax so that’s a no-go.

    Many recipes can be made by hand, of course, but I used it for many things besides bread.

    I found you by following a pin on Pinterest. How glad I did. First, I want to thank you, for your in-depth information, and the careful step by step instructions and pictures you provide. I hope people new to bread-making will be inspired to see that making bread feeds more than the appetite.

    Most of all thank you for your generosity in sharing all you offer so willingly. I appreciate every word. Your upbeat personality makes it all fun to read. 

    Best wishes!

  4. Why can’t I just get the ingredients  why must I always sign up first. 

    • Hi Jeannie, you do not have to sign up! This post you are looking at is describing a mixing method that is used for many different recipes. This article is not a recipe. There are several links at the end of the post to recipes that use this mixing method. Which bread recipe in particular are you looking for?

  5. Thank you for the tips of making sponge. . . I am a newbie baker and just learning thw trade of bread making. I know how to make sponge for the bread but only for the pan de siosa or enseymada i didnt know that it can be use for any kind of yeast bread. Wow thank you very much that you publish these tips . . Kudos


  6. I’ve just started baking & pastry arts school, a dream of mine for over 40yrs! This info on sponge starters brought everything together for me. Thank you so much!

  7. At what time can we add vital wheat gluten, in case we adding it, in sponge method?

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