For the sponge, stir together in large crock, then cover:
1 cup starter
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 1/2 cup occident flour
I covered the bowl with two cotton towels and tucked it in the oven. My oven has a pilot light, so it stays a nice constant warm, perfect for starters and homemade yogurt. I managed to resist the urge to make the bread a day early - the sponge was begun on Friday afternoon, stirred down on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon, I began the Sourdough Oatmeal Bread.
Stir the following ingredients into the sponge:
1 cup hot water (120-130 degrees, and yes, I use my candy thermometer to check!)
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons of honey
Sprinkle one tablespoons yeast on top, then stir in the following:
1 cup oatmeal - I use steel cut natural oats, not the quick kind
1 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup occident flour
Stir in additional occident flour with a wooden spoon, about 2 more cups, until the dough becomes "shaggy mass" that separates from the bowl. Dump the dough on a floured surface and begin kneading. I find the dough goes from sticky and unworkable to smooth and yielding rather quickly, so resist the urge to add too much to flour too fast.
Knead with all your heart and soul, like it really matters ('cause it does) for a full 10 minutes. The dough will become more elastic and smooth with a few slams to the counter top occasionally - and there is a lot of satisfaction hearing the sound of the dough noisily slamming the counter top! Baking bread is a great stress reliever!
Let the dough rest under a towel for 10 minutes. Knead for 30 seconds, long enough to squeeze out any air bubbles. Form the dough into to balls, slightly flattened, and score top with an "x". Place on a towel sprinkled with cornmeal, and cover with another towel in a warm place with no draft. (I put mine on the cupboard by the stove in front of Grandma Stella's picture to work it's magic.)
In about an hour and a half or so, it should be ready to bake in a steamy oven, as described in sourdough experiment number one. Will report on the success....
OK - let's just say, in painterly language, it's not resolved. Good, but not quite what I'm after!