I was all Gung Ho for sourdough bread in the past. I had a yeast starter I use for rye bread, but the rye never tasted like the store bought Jewish rye bread.. so I decided not to make it anymore. Even my parents prefer store bought! (No way was I putting citric acid in my dough to make it taste sour!) Now I make a SPONGE the night before I make a batch of bread. It does make it chewier which we all love since we toast my bread more often than eat it soft. Here's my sponge recipe:
SPONGE for Bread
2 Cups warm water
2 tsp dried yeast
1 TB Salt
1 TB Sugar or Honey
2-3 Cups Flour.
Mix well with a whisk until smooth, cover with plastic wrap and let ferment overnight.
BREAD for 4-5 Loaves
2-3 Cups slightly hot Water
2-3 Cups Oatmeal or Whole Oats
5 TB Sugar
5 TB Veg. Oil
2 rounded tsp Dry Yeast
2 tsp salt
Bread or Unbleached All Purpose Flour
Mix up the bread ingredients, minus the flour, then add to the Sponge to it. Now add flour a cup at a time until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Now turn out onto the counter and knead in flour until it's no longer as sticky and looks smooth about 200 1/4 turns . It will be textured from the oatmeal.
Now wash the two large bowls you used and oil spray them. Divide up the dough between the two bowls unless you have jumbo bowl for the whole batch and let raise a good hour or two in a warm room or the unlit oven with the light on.
Now get out your food scale and measure out 24 ounces for each loaf of bread. Knead out the bubbles and shape into 4 loaves. Place in oil sprayed loaf pans. I make cinnamon rolls with any left over dough. Let rise about an hour or more until 1 inch above the edge of loaf pans before baking at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
NOTE: You can always use warm milk in the recipe, or add mashed potatoes or potato flakes in the beginning. Even add onion and garlic or herbs to the recipe. It's your baby! LOL