Nonna's Sponge Dough Bread (Pane della Pasta della Spugna del Nonna)
Recipe type: Breads and Rolls
  • Madre (Mother Dough):
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 Cup warm potato water; (110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Second Dough:
  • 3 1/2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour (to 4 Cups)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 Cups warm potato water; (110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  1. In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let it proof for five minutes; chalky-looking bubbles will appear on the surface. Stir in the flour and mix well. At this point the madre will be the consistency of heavy pancake batter. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the sponge rise for at least 3 hours or even overnight.
  2. When the madre is ready, it should smell yeasty, look fluffy and light, and have a myriad of bubbles appearing on the surface. The madre is now ready to be combined with the additional yeast, water, flour, olive oil, and salt to make the second dough.
  3. To make the second dough using a fontana, heap 3 1/2 Cups of the flour on a work surface. Add the salt and use your hands to mix the flour and salt together. Make a hole in the center of the flour with your fist.
  4. Pour the water into the center, add the yeast, and stir with your fingers to dissolve the yeast. Let the yeast proof as above, then add the madre and the olive oil and mix well with your fingers. Working in a clockwise fashion, begin bringing flour from the inside of the wall into the yeast mixture with your fingers.
  5. When a rough, shaggy mass of dough is formed, begin to knead the dough, adding additional flour as needed to make a smooth ball of dough that does not stick to your hands. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, then cover the dough with a towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Repeat the kneading and resting 3 more times. Each time, you will notice that the dough is easier to knead than the previous time. This is because the flour is gradually absorbing the water in the dough and allowing the gluten in the flour to relax. The dough should become soft and no longer sticky, and it should move on the work surface with ease.
  6. Spray a large bowl with olive oil spray or coat with butter. Put the dough in the bowl, turn to coat with the oil or butter, and cover the large bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  7. The dough is now ready to be used. It can also be frozen, which is useful if you want to use only half of the dough. Spray a heavy-duty plastic bag with vegetable oil spray, put the dough in the bag, squeeze out the air, and seal the bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  8. To make the second dough in a bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let proof as directed above. Stir in the olive oil and the madre. Using your hands, mix in 3 1/2 Cups of the flour, about 1 cup at a time, until a shaggy dough is formed. Add the salt with the third addition of flour. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and begin kneading, adding additional flour as needed until a smooth ball of dough is created that is no longer sticky. Follow the directions above for kneading, resting, and rising.
Source: Ciao Italia at

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 58 Calories; 5g Fat (70.0% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 4266mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Fat.

NOTES : Recipe from "What You Knead" by Mary A. Esposito
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