Your Homemade Bread Will Last Longer with This Old-Time Technique | Potato Sponge Bread

Bread last longer with sponge

We are turning back the clock to use an old-time technique that makes homemade bread last longer. It’s called a sponge and is simply a mixture of liquid, yeast, and half the flour mixed together the night before. Sponging improves fermentation of the dough, which leads to improved shelf life as well as lighter, fluffier texture and more complex flavors. You can apply this technique to your other bread recipes!


Units Scale


3 cups lukewarm potato water

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons yeast

3 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour


1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter or liquid fat of choice

1 teaspoon sea salt

24 tablespoons brown or white sugar or honey

34 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour


The night before:

Combine potato water, vinegar, yeast, and whole wheat flour in KitchenAid mixing bowl. Cover with a plate or plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight or up to 24 hours. If you happen to have a 6-quart round Cambro container, you can use the lid to cover your KitchenAid mixer bowl.

Baking day:

Add oil, salt, and sugar to sponge. Gradually add the flour and mix on low speed using the flat paddle beater until the dough cleans the sides of the bowlHold back some of the flour, you may not need it all.


Let dough rest 5 minutes, covered. This gives the bran in the whole wheat flour time to hydrate which softens the edges making the dough easy to handle.


Now add the dough hook, but before you start, take a moment to butter the hook and the collar all the way up and over the top. This will keep the dough from climbing up into the machine where it doesn’t belong.


Lock the head and set the machine on low speed again, 1. Let the mixer knead for 5-8 minutes. Now it’s time to get our hands in the bowl. The best way to know how the dough is developing it to touch it. It should feel smooth and resilient. Bread dough made with whole grain flour will retain a certain amount of stickiness, like the sticky side of a Post It note. This is okay and does not need to be eliminated. 


When you think you are done kneading, let the dough rest 5 minutes and then perform the windowpane test. Use clean scissors to cut off a walnut-size piece of dough. Slowly pull and stretch the dough to see if it will hold a thin membrane. Hold it up to a window; if you can see light through it, you are done kneading; if not, knead another minute or two, rest 5 minutes, and re-check.


Wash your mixing bowl, dry it, and grease it. Give the dough a few turns by hand on a lightly greased counter and shape it into a smooth ball. Place dough in the bowl, smooth side up. Cover with a bread cloth, cotton (not terry) dish towel, or a plate. Allow it to rise in a protected spot until almost doubled, 1 hour. 


To check if it’s done rising, do the poke test: take 2 fingers and gently press the dough. When you withdraw them the indentation should remain, but the dough should not “sigh” or deflate.


Meanwhile, grease your loaf pans.


Turn the dough onto the work surface and gently flatten it with your greased palms to remove air bubbles. Using a bench knife or a chef’s knife, divide dough in half. Press one half into an 8×12-inch (20×30 cm) rectangle. Fold in thirds like an envelope. Flatten again with your hands into an 8×12-inch (20×30 cm). Roll dough up, beginning at a narrow end. Place seam side down in prepared loaf pan. Repeat for second loaf.


Cover the pan and let rise until dough curves nicely over the top of the pan, about 25 minutes. Set the oven to 350°F (175°C) to preheat. The touch test will help you determine if your bread is ready to bake. Instead of poking your fingers into the dough, this time simply touch the dough. It should barely show your fingerprint. 


Bake 35-40 minutes, until the loaf is well-browned and done. To test for doneness, carefully tip the loaf out of the pan and inspect the bottom. The crust should be evenly browned and sound hollow when thumped with a finger. A food thermometer will read 195-200°F (90-93°C).


Cool baked loaf on a wire rack for a crisp crust or on a wooden breadboard for a softer crust. If desired, brush warm loaf with melted butter. Wait at least an hour before slicing to allow the crumb to set.


  • To avoid stressing the motor, be sure not to exceed 6 cups whole grain flour when using the KitchenAid mixer.
  • Perfect for holidays where mashed potatoes are served, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Save the potato water, mix up a bread sponge and the next morning you can easily bake 2 loaves of fresh Potato Sponge Bread for sandwiches.

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