Bake A Wholemeal Loaf, Sponge Method

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I have some wholemeal flour and rye flour, packaging opened and half used, leftover from a recent wild yeast starter attempt.  As they are coming to the end of their shelf life ( I play safe and set use by date at 6 months after opening, stored in fridge), it’s time to dig out some tried and tested recipes online and start baking.  First up, this Simple Wholemeal Bread recipe from here.

This recipe uses the sponge method; an initial dough made with just flour, yeast and water is left to rise for a specific amount of time, then mixed with the remaining ingredients for the final bake.  Most sponge method I have come across requires at least 4 hours and some even suggest an overnight sit, but this recipe only calls for 90 minutes.

I have also adjusted the baking time to just 170C/325F for 30 min instead of 190C/375F.  I prefer my sandwich bread pillowy with a thinner and softer crust, and I learned that the time and temperature can be tweaked to achieve different crust quality.  The color of the final bake may look a bit pale to some, but as long as the bread is completed cooked, I am fine with this time/temperature combo.  Feel free to increase your baking temperature if you prefer a darker crust.


for sponge
120g wholemeal flour
85g bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
130g water

for main dough
85g bread flour
15g raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt
10g milk powder
50g water
15g cold unsalted butter, cubed

bake in a 20cm x 10cm x 10cm pullman tin


01. In a mixing bowl, combine ingredients for sponge , both types of flour, yeast and water, and knead with a dough hook at low speed (KA Speed 1) till they are mixed well and come into a ball.  Lay a clean tea towel over the mixing bowl to cover the dough, let sponge sit and rise for 90 minutes.

02. After 90 minutes, add bread flour, sugar, salt, milk powder and water to the sponge dough in the mixing bowl.  Do not add the butter yet.  Turn on the mixer at low speed first to combine all the ingredients.  Once the ingredients have come into a ball, increase the speed (level 2) to knead the dough for about 2 minutes.

03. Turn down the speed back to low, and add butter cubes one by one.  Once the last trace of butter has disappeared, turn up the speed of the mixer to knead the dough till gluten forms, and stop only after it reaches window pane stage.

04. Cover mixing bowl/dough with towel, and let it rise for 60 minutes, or till it doubles in volume.

05. After the dough has risen, punch the dough down to degas it and transfer it to a clean worktop.  If the dough is too sticky, lightly grease hands and tabletop with some butter.

06. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions.  shape them into balls, and let them sit, covered, for 15 minutes.

07. After 15 minutes, flatten out the dough with a rolling pin, pushing out any gas inside the dough, at the same time, turning it into a flat oblong shaped dough.  Roll up the flatten dough, from the shorter side facing you, into swiss roll style, and place the dough inside a pullman tin. Repeat with the remaining 2 dough balls.

08. Cover the baking tin with towel and let the bread have a final proof till the dough rise to reach 90% of the height of the tin.

09. Bake the bread, uncovered, in a preheated oven at 170C/325F for 30 minutes.

10. After baking, remove the bread from the tin immediately, brush top with some melted butter, and allow it to cool completely on a rack before slicing.


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