Once you have made the sponge (recipe above), you can continue with this part of the recipe (either immediately or after the sponge refrigerates for 8 or more hours).
Dump the sponge you previously made into a large mixing bowl (unless you used a large mixing bowl to refrigerate it in).
Give the sponge a good stir with a clean wooden spoon.
Slowly add the flour to the sponge (1/2 cup at a time) alternating with some water until all the flour is incorporated and the dough holds together in a ball that is slightly sticky to the touch. (If it is too sticky work in a little more flour.)
Turn the dough onto the counter and knead for 10 minutes. This gets the gluten working and makes for the lovely, airy texture.
Coat the bottom and part way up the sides of a large bowl with some of the vegetable oil.
Put the bread dough in the bowl and then turn it over to have an oiled side up.
Cover with a clean dish cloth or plastic wrap and set in a warm draft free place for about an hour. (I turn on the electric oven for a couple of minutes, just until the element starts to glow, then turn it off and let the bread proof in the warm oven.)
When the bread has doubled in bulk, turn it out onto the counter and punch it down.
Divide it into the number of equal pieces for the quantity of loaves you are making. This recipe makes 4 large baguettes or 8 small ones. For round loaves, divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape the round loaves, into balls then lightly press them down to about 3 inches thick. If you are using standard loaf pans, it makes 3 loaves.
For baguettes roll the dough into long thin pieces a couple of inches shorter than the baguette pans.
Oil a couple baking sheets and place one round loaf on each. For baguettes, oil the baguette pans and lay the long pieces of dough in each one.
Again cover and let the dough rise again until double in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 450F degrees.
When the oven is hot, spritz water onto the sides of the oven and close the door for 2 minutes.
Then place the bread in the oven.
After a minute, again spritz the sides of the oven with water.
Close the door and bake round or rectangular loaves about 30–35 minutes, baguettes for 20-25 minutes.
The bread is done when the crust is a lovely shade of brown and it sounds hollow when you tap on it.
Remove the bread from the oven and cool on racks