Yeast: Can it be decreased in the recipes?

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Short answer:  Yes!

Our method is super-fast because it’s based on stored dough, not because we use a full dose of granulated yeast in the recipes. In the 2007 edition of our first book, we used full-dose yeast (which was 1 1/2 tablespoons for four pounds of dough) because we knew that many of our readers would want to use the dough within a few hours of mixing it. For our 2013 update of that book, we decreased our full dose of yeast to 1 tablespoon, because our testing showed that the extra half-tablespoon made little difference. We’d still consider that a full dose of yeast in a four-pound batch, and you can decrease to 1 tablespoon in any of our recipes, from any of our books. But if you have more time for the initial rise, you can decrease it further–by large margins.  Half-doses, quarter-doses, and even less will work.

Why use less yeast?  Experienced yeast bakers sometimes prefer the more delicate flavor and aroma of a dough risen with less packaged yeast. Traditionally, it’s felt that rising the dough very slowly, with very little added yeast, builds a better flavor. So this is an option to try when you have more time:

I tried it two ways, first halving the yeast (1/2 tablespoon), and then dropping it way down, to 1/2 teaspoon. Both worked, but they work slowly. For the 1/2 teaspoon version, you need to give the dough 6 to 12 hours to rise. The 1/2 tablespoon version needs something in between (about 4-5 hours). You don’t need to increase the resting time after the loaf is shaped. Active time is still five minutes a loaf, it’s just your passive resting and rising times that really escalate when you go to the low-yeast version. If you use cool or cold water with a low-yeast preparation, you’ll need 18 to 36 hours for the initial rise.

So if you’ve hesitated to try our method because you like your loaves risen long and slow, give this approach a try.

Low yeast/slow rise with egg-enriched breads: Readers have asked us about the food-safety issues in trying low yeast/slow rise at room temperature with egg-enriched doughs.  Raw egg shouldn’t be left out too long at room temp. How long is too long? US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is very conservative on this question; they say 2 hours is the max (click here and scroll down for their detailed recommendations). Understand that this would make it impossible to rise a cold-started egg-enriched dough fully at room temperature (though we’ve found that two hours on the counter is enough even for a 33% yeast reduction; the problems start when you make more significant reductions, which would require 8 to 24 hours on the counter). The risk is salmonella and other food-borne illnesses. Even though eggs in baked breads are fully cooked, the USDA is clear on this– 2 hours max.  They’re a very conservative organization– for example, you basically can’t eat hamburger with any pink in it, according to USDA.

To stay in compliance with USDA guidelines for egg-based doughs, refrigerate at 2 hours regardless of whether the batch has fully risen.  Then, allow the rising to complete at refrigerator temperature (18 to 36 hours).

More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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316 thoughts on “Yeast: Can it be decreased in the recipes?

  1. Hi Molly,

    Yes, we have even baked it with quick/instant/rapid rise yeast and found that it makes no difference in the dough. The initial rise may move along more quickly, but after it stores for a day it doesn’t act any differently than other yeasts.

    Enjoy, Zoë

  2. I bought your book, and am unclear how I can use my sourdough starter using your methods, and not using commercial yeast. I did read your comment that the dough should only be kept for 7 days. If I go with your basic recipe, how much starter should I use instead of the yeast, and will that affect the amount of water used? I like my bread to taste very sour.

  3. Erika: Substitute a cup and a half of active starter (ie., replenished and allowed to re-expand) for an equivalent amount of water and flour. For the starters I’ve experimented with, they are about half water and half flour by volume, so this means that the swap is for 3/4 cup of water and 3/4 cup of flour. Adjust to give a final consistency as in our videos:

    Allow for significantly longer resting times after shaping– figure on about 1.5 hours.

  4. Hi! I have 8 kids, love to bake bread, but need to do so in large volume! Have you ever tried your method in large quantities? Could I do a large amount of dough in a food-service size container?

  5. Cathy: Thanks for your interest! We put lots of free content on the web, but our publisher tells us it’s probably not a good idea to “scoop” our own book on our website! Stay tuned, release date for the new book is 10/27/09.

  6. To what extent can you reduce the salt in the recipe without dramatically affecting the result? Must the yeast be reduced if salt is reduced? We don’t like the sourdough flavor, so don’t want to half each.

  7. I don’t see what oven temperature to use and how long to cook. Also, does the dough have to set in the refrig for 2 weeks or is that the length of time the dough is good for? Thank you so much.

  8. What modifications would be necessary for making your bread recipes at elevations over 7000 feet? I am in Santa Fe, NM and it is not only at high elevation but an extremely dry climate sometimes less than 12% humidity. Many thanks for your help!

    1. Hi tc,

      Here is a post about high altitude baking. Be sure to read through the comments to get lots of tips from other bakers who have been playing with this method at high altitudes!

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. I don’t have a question, but a comment. I first heard about your book through a posting you approved for Instructables ( The poster encouraged everyone to go get your book, after tring the master recipe for themselves. Am I ever glad I did. This has to be the easiest bread making I’ve ever seen!
    So, I wanted to thank you for allowing this to have been posted on Instructables, and for writing such a wonderful book!

  10. I see that your new book for healthy bread will be coming out soon. Will you be doing a book for diabetics? I have just recently been looking for diabetic recipes and am learning to use nut meals/flours and coconut flour, as well as whey protein in my cooking and baking. Anyways, I was just wondering if you were planning on working on something like that in the future. I sure do miss homemade bread.

    1. Gina: We don’t have a book specifically labeled as being for diabetics, but much in our new book will fit the bill. You probably know that the American Diabetes Association’s latest guidelines endorse the idea that whole grain breads raise glucose more slowly than refined grains, and can actually prevent the development of the disease. We also use some soy flour in some of the recipes. Jeff

  11. Hi, I have been using your book quite a bit lately. I just found this post because I am low on yeast. (I will never let that happen again!) I want to make bread for tomorrow and don’t want to go to the store, so this sounds like the perfect time to try the low yeast version. I find that I make one of the recipes for a long time, then get into an experimental phase. This will kick off the next experimental phase.

    Lately, the staple bread in our house has been the light whole wheat, 2 pound loaf in a loaf pan. We had some store bought bread around, but my husband finally turned it all into bread crumbs because we were never going to eat it!


    1. Hi Sara,

      That is fantastic, I’ll look forward to see what your experimental phase brings! Please stay in touch and let us know.

      Thanks, Zoë

  12. Hi Zoe,

    I just discovered your book and site. I’m very excited to give your methods a try, as I’ve always wanted to bake bread but have previously been too intimitated. But thanks to you, I’m now feeling brave enough to give it a try! ; )

    I’m about to mix together your Master Recipe and I’m wondering if doing the approach with less yeast will be better for those who are trying to stay on a low yeast diet. Will less yeast to begin with mean less to end with, or does it all work out to be the same?

    Thank you so much for your help and time!


    1. Hi Faie,

      I’m so pleased that you are baking bread and no longer feel intimidated by the process. Is your concern with commercial yeast? If you are trying to stay on a low commercial yeast diet you may be better off trying the method with a natural yeast sour dough starter. Let us know a little more about your concern and we can try to help you tailor the recipe!

      Thanks, Zoë

  13. Hi Zoe,

    Thank you so much for your response.

    Actually, the problem is with candida (too much bad yeast, causing digestion problems) and I’m wondering if there’s any way that we can possibly still eat bread! lol!

    We’re trying to go on a low sugar and carb diet, because that’s what candida feeds on. So that means really the only grains we can eat are brown rice, millet, quinoa (sp?). And no sugar, carby, or yeasty things are allowed, like bread, root veggies, beer, fruit, etc.

    This may be completely absurd or naive, but is there anyway to make bread with rice, millet, and quinoa? Maybe we could cheat a little and use a little yeast. Maybe it would have to be some sort of flat bread, unleavened bread? I’m groping in the dark here! lol!

    I hope this makes better sense….


    1. Hi Faie,

      All the grains you mentioned are used in the gluten-free breads. The only problem is that the g-f breads still use yeast. Hmmm? It almost sounds like you need to stick to quick breads that use baking soda and baking powder? Something worth exploring for sure!


  14. Hi bread people! I’m so glad to hear about this method. However, I’m having some trouble with the dough rising after it comes out of the fridge. The dough puffed up like a champion, making me wonder if we might get lost in it somehow. But after refrigerating, it doesn’t want to do much at all in terms of rising. We’ve tried putting it in a bread pan to hold the sides in, but we still get flatbread. Even letting it rise overnight doesnt help.

    I’ve made four attempts now with loaves from that first batch of dough, the last one was the best. In that case I added ww flour AND more yeast, and kneaded, treating the dough as a starter, because the previous 3 attempts seemed super salty (like all the sugars were used up), and were very dense. Suggestions? Might I have killed my yeast somehow?

    I’m hopeful!

    1. Lydia: Very different experience than what we’ve seen, so first question: any chance you’re using bleached flour for the white-flour part of the recipe, or “light” spelt instead of regular whole wheat (or dark spelt)?

      How are you measuring the flour (scoop and sweep is what works)?

      How much yeast are you using?

      Once we hear back, we’ll take it from there. Jeff

  15. Hi! Wow. Thanks for the quick response!

    I used the 6 3 3 13 recipe (cups water, tbsp salt and yeast, and cups unbleached flour). Scoop and sweep on measuring– we’ve been baking for years and always did it like that. I used granulated yeast that is purchased in a jar… The dough was wet after kneading, and literally overflowed the container. I’m used to wholewheat and heavier bread dough, which doesn’t rise so fast and so much, so it was a real surprise to be able to actually see it rising.

    To resurrect a boule, after the first 3 from that batch died flat, we kneaded with wholewheat flour, and got a half-risen bread (somewhere halfway between a regular loaf and a flatbread) after about 6 hours of slow slow rising. No spelt, I’m afraid I don’t actually have any spelt flour on hand.

    Perhaps I let it rise too much before refrigerating? Or maybe I was handling it too much afterwards?

    Thanks again,

    1. Hi Lydia,

      If you are using the 6-3-3-13 batch, it is not a low yeast version that you are having difficulties with, right? Just so you know, our dough will rise in the container and then collapse and never rise in the container again. It also does not get much rise on the counter while resting, but should have a really nice oven spring.

      Are you using whole wheat flour in this recipe? The proportions for the 6-3-3-13 batch are for all-purpose flour and will not work well if you substitute whole wheat, it will be much too dry and will not store well.

      The 6 hours of slow, slow rise you mention is in the bucket or once you had formed the loaves? If you let the formed dough rise that long before baking it probably overproofed and that would explain why you never got any oven spring.

      Let me know if any of this makes sense for what you are seeing and we can take it from there!

      Thanks, Zoë

  16. Hola Jeff y Zoe,
    I just wanted to say a big GRACIAS!
    I’ve never, ever cooked or kneaded anything before, let alone worked with yeast. Being hispanic, as you know, bread isn’t in our culture naturally.
    I’ve watched others do it, but to tell you the truth my worry is the yeast. Yeast is just scary to deal with! Even when I’ve done exactly what the recipe says (I’ve even use a thermometer, so as to be at the exact 104 degree temp… Nothing worked. I must have killed billions of yeast! Poor things.), yeast is just hard to deal with, so I’ve never touched it again. Believe it or not I love to cook, and I cater, on the side of Home Schooling my boys! Until a Sister of my church showed me your recipe, I swore I’d have to buy my breads; no matter how unhealthy, but have looked with longing eyes at all the fresh breads, and wishing for a way. She walked me through it(she’s been ‘breading’ for years! I could barely keep up! Ha) I’m still so apprehensive it all went by so fast, and I know I’ve missed a few things. I love the fact that I don’t have to deal with Gluten, because I just don’t know how to 🙁
    I was trying to take as many notes as I can while she was doing it all, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t get all of it. She helped me to make my first batch, which was so excellent! My 3 sons, ate it all in about 15 mts! And of course they want an repeat performance, and I want to… I’m just not sure of myself, and I think I’m missing some instructions.
    I have the basic recipe, which I got again ,off of your site, thanks! I had gaps in my notes. What I feel I’m miss-understanding is the whole part after I mix with a spoon. Don’t I have to let it rise first, for and hour, before refrigerating, for another hour? Then taking it out, shaping, putting it on the Pizza Board, with the corn meal under it to slide off, for >15mts?? When that’s done should I put the water into to pan before I slide the bread in or after?
    How much after?
    I’m sorry, I know this is alot of questions. I know I sound so ignorant, but I am, and I really want to get this right. It was so good to do, and for the first time I felt like maybe this is something I could do. As a single mom, I have such a busy day, and limited budget. I do what I can on-line, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to pick your brains, and get it straight from the horses mouth:)
    I thank you for taking the time out of your busy days to read this. I did check out your website, but never saw the original recipe with all the instructions. So I came here. Whatever you can throw my way will help immeasurably… Eventually, I get the book for myself:)
    Thank you, and may all your endeavors be successful.

  17. I’ve been out on a quest to make the perfect cinnamon rolls and have two questions… I’ve been using the master recipe from your “Healthy Breads” book. I’m rolling it out fairly thin and then do press down to even out/flatten after putting them in the pan. I’m finding that the dough isn’t getting too much oven spring so they’re a bit tough. Also, the center rises higher than the outside of the roll.

    I’d appreciate any suggestions!

    1. Hi Angela,

      I find that the cinnamon rolls are best made with one of the enriched doughs, they tend to produce a lighter roll. I love the brioche, or the challah if you want something slightly less rich.

      Thanks, Zoë

  18. Hi,
    Tried a few batches, and am running into consistent results: I’m not getting the oven rise I’d like. Crust is strong. Crumb is dense, moist, bubbles small. Loaf spreads on stone, so I’ve taken to baking in a Dutch oven at 450 for whole wheat. One thing I notice – after more than 24 hours in the fridge, my dough “sinks” and bread made from it is more dense and rises even less than the first loaves from the same batch. I’m using fresh yeast. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Ross,

      Before I can help you figure out how to get a better crumb I need to ask you a few questions.

      How much fresh/cake yeast are you using?

      Which recipe are you using? From HBin5?

      What kind of flour are you using? Type and brand?

      Thanks, we will try to help you get a better result. Zoë

  19. I live at an altitude of 7300 ft. The recipe I have calls for 3 1/2 Tbl of yeast and Univ. of Colorado recommends reducing the yeast 25%. Would 3 Tbl work and do I have to add any water? I just get confused.

  20. Hi folks,

    I wanted to confirm that less yeast works fine in your recipes… as I discovered myself. I tend to have a rather stuffed fridge, living with housemates, so to keep a big bowl of dough in the fridge for days is often impractical. I also have liked overnight rise breads I’ve tried in the past because it seems like a natural rhythm (waiting while you sleep)… shaping loaves and baking first thing in the morning and then getting on with the rest of the day. So, I tried using 1/2 tsp yeast in your master recipe and rising overnight. It works perfectly well for me, very similar results, just with a stretched out timeline.


  21. Good afternoon! In the hopes that someone can address my question soon–and if not, for next time–

    I am making pizza using a 2-week-old white dough made with the minimal amount of yeast and the 1 pound of old dough incorporated as per the “sourdough” baguette roll recipe you posted. I am hoping for a full-flavored, chewy and crispy pizza crust. My first Bread-in-5 crusts were bland made with the Master recipe, about 4-7 days old.

    Do I let the dough warm to room temp. before dividing and shaping? OR, do I divide the cold dough, then let it warm up, and then stretch into my pizza shapes? And should the dough rest after being shaped? If so, for how long before topping and baking?

    Thank you, thank you!

  22. OK, more about my “old dough”, low-yeast batch for pizza! I divided the cold dough into balls (by the way, a 2-pound flour, 1 pound old dough, 24 oz of water batch made 5 12 oz balls, plus it left a pound for the next “old dough” batch), let it rest 2-3 hours, and shaped it right before topping it–and it made terrific crust!

    I baked the red sauce pizzas with some garlic oil and homemade tomato sauce before putting cheese on them for a final bake. We also made caramelized onion, parm., arugula pizza as well as clam, parrano (gouda), herb. We wished we had our neighbors’ homemade goat cheese for the arugula one. Then we put together blueberry with cream cheese, brown sugar an cinnamon for dessert.

    This 2-week old dough, with old dough integrated, did not taste like sourdough but was bubbly, crispy and chewy–and nicely extensible after the long rest. All with mere AP flour! Rivaled any regular pizza recipe. And as there was no oil in the dough, it was not spongy and bready, if you know what I mean.

    The regular master recipe was hard to work with the first time I did it–the dough tore–the texture was not great–the taste was bland. That first time, I shaped the master recipe cold dough into pizza wheels and let it rise on peels. Perhaps letting the dough warm up a little, dividing it, letting it rest a long time, then shaping it is more important than the dough-making process?

  23. Hi guys,

    Baked 7 pizza breads and 10 pizzas in my woodfired oven on Saturday night. (retirement party) and they were a wonderful success. Numerous requests for the base recipe so have given copies of your master recipe including website address and NZ agent for your book. I use the basic bread dough that I refrigerate for one night. Following morning I shape balls of dough (150g for pizza bread and 200g for pizza) and place in small disposable plastic containers, lightly dusted with flour and the lid placed on. I place these in the fridge and use them that evening. outside by the oven I keep the preformed balls in a chilly bin (insulated transport box) and take out roll and dress just prior to baking. Takes about 2 minutes in the oven. I roll the dough into 10 inch circles as this is the size of the entrance to the oven and roll the pizza breads a little thinner than the pizza bases. it is so neat and tidy with very little mess.

    Have also baked standard boules, brioche cinnamon whirls (in a muffin tin) pane epi, baguettes and betsy’s seed loaf but these are baked in the conventional oven at the moment. (on a pizza stone). Your method of dough preparation and baking is just so convenient and easy and it has become part of our routines so easily.
    Thanks so much for sharing your recipes with us.

  24. Hi,
    Thank you so much for making a gluten free section. I eat gluten free (and yeast free as much as I can) and hadn’t had bread for I don’t know how long. The store GF bread is NOT good. This bread is fantastic and without all the yeast!! But I do have a guestion.
    I have followed the Gluten free Boule bread recipe and cut the yeast in half (1 T), following your instructions. My dough is always EXTREMELY sticky, more so than any of your pictures. I don’t even have to slit the bread before baking, I can’t because it is too sticky. Even after raising it for 5 hours there doesn’t seem to be as much dough.
    I’m not sure what I am doing wrong. don’t get me wrong it still tastes good. I would just like to see if I can improve it at all.
    Do you have any tips or suggestions?
    thanks for taking the time to read my question.
    amy y.

    1. Hi Amy,

      Thank you for trying the bread, I’m glad you are enjoying it. Are you measuring your flour with the scoop and sweep method? If you are spooning the flour into the measuring cup you will end up with too little flour and a wet dough.

      Are you substituting any of the flours? I find that G-F flours all have very unique flavors and behave differently in the dough.

      Let me know if either of these sounds right. Zoë

  25. Zoe,
    I scoop and sweep my flours if that means I scoop them out and scrape them off with the back of a knife to make them level. I don’t spoon them into the measuring cup. I used all of the flours from your recpie. I followed it excatly minus the oil. I used a different oil. And today I decided to use the GF flour mix that I use for everything else and cut the water down by 1/3 cup to see if it makes a difference. The flours in my mix are Kamut, rice, oat, and Spelt all at different ratios of course. what other flours have you tried for your recpie?
    any other suggestions would be wonderful,
    thanks for talking with me, you are the expert., and I love getting the help :]
    Amy Y.

    1. Amy: If your stuff is wetter despite correct measuring, and you’re pretty sure that you’re using the same flours as we are, I would just use a little less liquid next time. Sometimes we just don’t get to the bottom of what’s different, and this is the best way to go. Maybe 1/8 cup less liquid, and next time 1/4.

      All of the GF flours we liked are in the book, in chapter 9 of HBin5. Jeff

  26. jeff,
    thanks for your help. I am very positive that the flours are the same as the recpie calls for. I’ll try the water thing.

  27. I’m finding that my bread is coming out really yeast-y tasting. I don’t know what this means? Is this normal or should I decrease the amount of yeast I’m using? (I buy baking yeast in bulk from my health food store, and it just occurred to me that I have no idea if it’s rapid yeast or active dry yeast, if it even makes a difference.)

    1. Nancy: In this post, we talk about using less yeast, and I think that will take care of your concern. It’s going to take longer to full rise before refrigeration, so just be aware of that. But you can use as little as a quarter dose of the yeast amount we talk about in the books.

      Doesn’t matter if it’s rapid or not, it all comes out in the wash with this method. Jeff

  28. Last week I made a batch of honey wheat sandwich dough. I baked one loaf and it turned out fabulous!! I stored the remaining dough in the refrigerator for about 5 days. When I took the dough out to bake the second loaf, it smelled somewhat fermented. I baked it anyway, and noticed that the bread tasted funny too…again it was sort of fermented tasting. The first loaf didn’t taste that way at all. Is that a result of the yeast multiplying over the course of 5 days, or did the dough possibly go bad?

    1. Andrea: Our doughs mature in flavor through the storage process and develop sourdough notes. That’s not to everyone’s taste. One thing to try would be the low-yeast versions of our stuff. Go to the FAQs page and click on the question about “Yeast: can I decrease…”

      Flavor will be milder and less of commercial yeast. But– first rising will take longer, be aware. Jeff

  29. I ordered your book Friday from amazon, and it should arrive tomorrow, but I couldn’t wait so mixed up some dough on Saturday and made 1 loaf Sunday morning (from the SplendidTable recipe). I baked the loaf at 450 for 30 minutes (forgot to test it with an instant-read thermometer–just stared at it hungrily while waiting for it to cool!). The crust and color were beautiful, but it still looked sort of wet inside. I figured I should have left it in longer than 30 minutes.

    So, Sunday evening I tried another loaf. I baked it at 450 in for 40 minutes and, though the color and crust were again wonderful, that must have been too long, because this time I did remember to do an instant-read check with a probe thermometer, and it was 204 degrees. After letting this 2nd loaf cool, I broke into it fearing I might find it dry. But, it was the same as the first loaf–kind of wet looking.

    Did I use the wrong yeast?–I used Fleischmann’s Bread Machine Yeast (it says it can be used in an oven or machine); it’s sold in a glass jar, must be refrigerated after opening, looks like it’s granulated (though the label doesn’t say it’s granulated); the label also says “also ideal for all RapidRise recipes”, and also cautions against letting the yeast come into direct contact with liquids or salt in a breach-machine recipe.

    All that yeast info is pretty confusing to me (I can cook, but my baking is usually limited to one birthday cake a year!).

    The only other deviation from the SplendidTable recipe was that, instead of a baking stone, I used my 2-burner stovetop Lodge cast iron griddle/grill, which was a 450 degrees for both loaves. (I have a laser thermogun, so am sure of this.)

  30. Thanks, Zoe. I will read both posts and try again. FYI, for my first batch I had the dough sit out for 5 hours after mixing (my kitchen is way under 68 degrees–probably more like 62), and after the overnight refrigeration rested it for 40 minutes before baking.

  31. Rebecka: Bet you’ll be happier with a longer proofing time (60 to 90 minutes for white bread, and definitely 90 minutes for whole grain).

    Try 205 to 210 degrees for lean breads like this on the instant-read…


  32. On the topic of yeast – I like the flavor, so I don’t really want to decrease it. However, in normal retail quantities it can be expensive. I found that in both Sams club and BJ’s – you can buy a package that contains 2, 1# bags of vacum packed yeast (similar to the vacum bagged ground coffees) – for less than $4. I think it’s about $1.75/lb in these packs. 2# of yeast will last a long long time. Fleischmanns is the brand, and it’s from Canada.

    This past year, I included a 1lb package in each of my Christmas packages with the AB in 5 book, a cambro dough bucket, and yeast – plus my insider “protips” for using the book and recipes.

    Reading this thread… now I want a “laser thermogun”!

    1. Hi Bo,

      I want a “laser thermogun” too! We always buy our yeast in bulk as well, best and cheapest way. Just be sure to store it in the freezer so it will last a long time!

      Thanks, Zoë

  33. Hi. I decided to make challah as my first attempt at your bread. I mixed up a 1/2 batch of challah yesterday. I reduced the yeast (SAF instant) a bit, to 2 tsps, rather than 2.25. It sat on the counter for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours and then I put it in the refrigerator. Several hours later it had risen up nicely. The plastic container was clear, so I could see that the sides looked like a sponge. So far, so good.

    This morning I opened the refrigerator and it had collapsed. It’s not much bigger than when I first put it in the container.

    Is this normal or has something bad happened? Should I give it an extra long resting time before it goes in the oven? Should I have used the full measure of yeast? If it helps to know, I used KA AP flour and large eggs and the water felt just warmish to my touch. Thanks!

    1. Marcia: This is normal, don’t worry! It will get oven spring after it hits the oven. Not to mention that there will be proofing rise as well (though not as much as you’re used to). Jeff

  34. Okay–it turns out I had done several things wrong! It’s entirely possible that I used bleached flour for the first batch (the flour was in a clear plastic container, and I threw away the bag months ago). I also suspect I abused the dough when I mixed it with a spoon (I was determined not to see any dry flour bits!); there wasn’t much fridge rise. Also (I know–adding insult to injury here!) I closed the container tight during the fridge rise.

    Anyway, for the 2nd batch, I used my stand mixer with the dough hook, added the last few bits of the first batch, and didn’t put on the cover tightly in the fridge. The crumb was much improved!

    I then tried your challah recipe, which came out better than I possibly could have imagined. The loaf was gloriously colored and the braids were beautiful, the fragrance was superb and the taste and texture unbelievable. My neighbor and I couldn’t wait for it to cool, so ate half of it almost immediately, pulling off pieces and slathering them with butter. (Yes, we were bad….) Next I tried the challah dough with the pletzl recipe, and very much liked that, too.

    Question 1: For the boule dough, the crust is crisp, but is a bit too hard and thick for my elderly father, who has dentures. What can I try to get a thinner but still crispy crust?

    Question 2: What flour do I use to make classic Italian bread? Lots of garlic-bread lovers in this family!

    1. Rebecka: Thin and crisp crust is usually the happy result from a good steam dose in the oven. Does your oven make a nice seal? Could try a little more water in the broiler pan (1 1/2 cup)? Or try one of our steam alternatives (like the Dutch oven, or spritzing with water from a food-grade sprayer, 3 times in the first 2 minutes of baking), or using a foil lasagne pan over the bread.

      We make our Italian breads from all-purpose flour; should work well for you. If you like something chewier, go with bread, flour, but increase the water by about 1/4 to 1/2 cup (will depend on which bread flour you use). Jeff

  35. Every time I use white flour with any other kind of flour (whole wheat or rye, etc) my crust is hard as a rock. The next day, the crust is thicker and it is almost impossible to eat, once I hurt my gums with the crust. I know that milk and honey makes a tender crust but I don’t want to use it all the time.

    Am I doing something wrong? I follow your recipe taithfully but my results are not the same.

    1. Hi Sachiko,

      Which recipe are you working on? Depending on how much whole grain flour is in the recipe the dough may require a longer rest time. This will lighten up the dough before baking and help it to rise and bake properly.

      Are you using a baking stone, steam and checked your oven temperature with an oven thermometer? If the oven is running hot or cool it will effect the baking time and may result in a tough crust.

      Let us know about these points and we can help you further.

      Thanks, Zoë

  36. [jeff said…
    March 21, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    “We make our Italian breads from all-purpose flour; should work well for you. If you like something chewier, go with bread, flour, but increase the water by about 1/4 to 1/2 cup (will depend on which bread flour you use).”]

    Does that mean that “Italian bread” is indistinguishable (except by shape) from the Master Recipe boule dough? One of my great loves in life is garlic bread, and I won’t buy prepared garlic bread (ooh–the preservatives!), and a loaf of good Italian bread from the bakery often goes dry before I can use it all. I love all your breads that I’ve made so far (2 Master recipes, 1 Challah, 1 deli-style rye, 1 brioche), but my principal reason for taking up bread-making is so that I can make my own garlic bread. I’ve got the roasted garlic-butter-parmesan-salt spread part of it down, but it doesn’t taste authentic on the Master Recipe boule dough.

    Any hints?

    1. Rebecka: For all intents and purposes, yes. Have you put sesame seeds on the crust of the Master Recipe bread– but do it as an elongated loaf, see what you think… Jeff

  37. I use SAF instant red yeast. This type of yeast needs to be reduced in other recipes.

    How much should I use in your recipes?

    Thank you.

  38. amy y on mar 5 commented on her gf four mix..spelt is NOT gf and the oat may or may not be….wheat free and gluten free are NOT the same. this is an important distinction for the celiac community

    1. Correct, Mira. She was talking about “wheat allergy,” or “wheat intolerance,” which is ill-defined. There’s a group of people out there who say they do poorly with wheat, but fine with spelt. It couldn’t be the gluten, since, as you say, spelt has gluten. But— it has less. The medical community doesn’t yet know what to tell these folks, except “don’t argue with success.” If people feel better on spelt than wheat, then by all means eat spelt. Jeff

  39. You guys are so great with the prompt advice! I hope I get some today. I decided to try a batch of challah with minimal yeast (1/4 tsp for a half batch). I know up above you say 6-12 hours to rise, but then I thought I remembered you saying something somewhere about not leaving the enriched dough out for too long. I can’t find it on the website, so now I’m thinking I saw it when I flipped through your Healthy Bread book in the library the other day. It’s on order, but in the meantime, how long should I leave my challah dough on the counter? If it matters, it’s a warm day here, so it will probably be around 70-72 in my kitchen and I used all unbleached AP flour. Thanks!

    1. Marcia: The answer is that no one really knows the answer to this question, which is a food safety question– we don’t specifically address it in our books. Raw egg shouldn’t be left out too long at room temp. How long is too long? US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is very conservative on this question (see; they say 2 hours is the max. Understand that this makes it impossible to do a slow-risen egg-enriched dough (though we’ve found that two hours on the counter is enough even for a 33% yeast reduction; problem is that you’re talking about an 8-fold reduction). The risk is salmonella and other food-borne illnesses. Even though eggs in baked breads are fully cooked, the USDA is clear on this– 2 hours.

      USDA is very conservative– for example, you basically can’t eat hamburger with any pink in it, according to USDA.

      One middle-of-the-road approach would be to refrigerate at 2 hours regardless of where the batch is, in terms of rise. Then, allow the completion of rising at refrigerator temperature. It will take 18 to 36 hours. Great question– I’ve just updated the FAQ about this with this info, at Jeff

  40. Quick question… I’m a first-time bread maker and I just made the full dose bread dough. I am a little bit confused about the “aging” process. Must I wait the full 14 days before I can bake the bread? Or does it mean that the dough expires after “14” days? Sorry – I just want to make sure and not screw this up!

    1. Hi Joanna,

      You can use the dough any time over the 14 days. It is easier to use after it has been refrigerated for several hours.

      Enjoy and happy baking! Zoë

  41. i made half a batch with 1 tsp yeast ,let it rise for 4 hrs then stored it in the fridge for 24 hours, and for the second rise i let it rise for 4 hours and baked it using the dutch oven….and it was realy REALY good, the tast was superior,i will not experiment any more i am making the perfect broule .
    thanks again to Jeff and zoe

  42. I’ve been baking from both of your books for about 2 months, with much success. I just tried the Olive spelt bread from Hbin5, using greek yogurt and bread flower instead of regular flower. I added a little extra water. I also reduced to 1tbs yeast. Despite 4 hour intial rise, when I leave it out before baking it just spreads, and I get a very flat loaf. Is the greek yogurt too heavy? Is there something else I can try? I haven’t had this problem before. Thanks for the books – I haven’t baked bread since college and I’m baking several times a week now.

    1. Hi Larry,

      I suspect the problem is not the type of yogurt, but the extra water. The spelt has very little gluten and therefore tends to make a wet dough, so adding any additional water may make it too wet. If you have any dough left I would add more flour to dry it out a bit and let the dough sit for a couple of hours to allow the flour to absorb the excess water.

      So glad you are baking so much bread! Enjoy, Zoë

  43. The Cracked Wheat Bread in HBin5 p109 says “By blending cracked wheat with white whole wheat and traditional whole wheat…” while the ingredient list calls for white whole wheat, unbleached all-purpose flour and cracked wheat. Can I use whole wheat for the largest quantity and white wheat for the lesser?

    1. Hi Wendy,

      I am sorry that is so confusing. The recipe is written and tested with the white whole wheat and unbleached all-purpose flour. If you want to use a combination of white whole wheat and traditional whole wheat you can, but you should not substitute it for the unbleached all-purpose. The whole grain flours absorb a different amount of water and it will throw off the consistency of the bread.

      I hope that makes sense? Thanks, Zoë

  44. Since partway through the baking process we are to remove the cookie sheet and let the loaf bake directly on the oven rack, can we use a cookie sheet directly on the oven rack for the first part of baking and not use a baking stone at all?

    1. Hi Sue,

      If you are using a cookie sheet it is not absolutely necessary to have the baking stone in the oven.

      Thanks, Zoe

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