Hearty White Bread

This recipe for a sturdy, everyday white bread employs the sponge method, which adds complexity to the bread’s final flavor.

Serves: 8Hands-on: 20 minutesTotal: 3 hours 20 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 8


  • 1 1⁄2 cups warm water
  • 1 3⁄4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 package)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. plus 1⁄8 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 large egg


  • Combine 1 cup water and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let stand 5 minutes. Add all-purpose flour and beat 1 minute. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.
  • Add to the sponge 1⁄2 cup water, 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt, butter, and enough bread flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour only to reduce stickiness. Return to bowl, dust with flour, cover with plastic, and rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  • Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with pan spray, and line its length with a strip of parchment. Turn risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and shape into an oblong loaf. Place in prepared pan, seam-side down. Dust lightly with flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and proof until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk egg with remaining salt, then brush lightly and evenly over the surface of the loaf. Using a serrated knife, slash down the center length of the loaf, about 1 inch deep. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped from the bottom. (Pop the loaf out of the pan into an oven mitt and tap the bottom. It will not sound hollow in the pan.) Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan, and cool completely on a rack.