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Sponge. The preliminary fermentation (q.v.) stage in the sponge-and-dough process (q.v.) of breadmaking in which a major portion of the flour (q.v.) is subjected to the chemical and biological actions of fermenting yeast (q.v.). The sponge, which characteristically contains 50 to 70% of the total dough flour, part of the water, and all of the yeast and yeast food (q.v.), is generally fermented 3.5 to 4.5 hours under controlled environmental conditions and is subsequently combined with the remainder of dough ingredients to yield the finished dough.