Zoe’s bucket collection (and the dough that lives within: day 5)

Bucket Collection (and the dough that lives within)

Several of you have had questions about the right type of bucket to be using. I have many that fit the bill beautifully, these are just a few! It depends on the size and shape of your refrigerator and how much dough you intend to make. There are a few basic guidelines to storing your dough in a bucket:

  1. Use one that is large enough to hold a full batch (5 or 6 qts), the dough needs plenty of room to grow! Obviously a larger one if you are doubling and smaller for half batch.
  2. Make sure that it has a lid, to prevent a tough skin from forming on your dough.
  3. Make sure that lid is not airtight, you want the gases from the yeast to escape or you will get a crazy alcohol smell building up in your bucket. If you have airtight seals on your bucket, just leave them ajar and it will be just fine!
  4. If you are using a large bowl, which I didn’t take any pictures of, but are just fine to use, either put a lid or plastic wrap over the top.

Now to answer the question about what my dough looks like after it has risen in the bucket and is storing in the refrigerator. These are pictures of the master recipe after 1 day in the fridge, I will try to update as the dough ages!

Bucket Collection (and the dough that lives within)

dough 1 day old

To see through day 5 click here!

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180 thoughts on “Zoe’s bucket collection (and the dough that lives within: day 5)

  1. The Chicago Tribune had an article on your bread in the Food Section and I am hooked!!! My husband and I tried the bread and we just love it. I tried making Artesian bread once before and gave up. I have told all my friends about the recipe in the Tribune and made copies for them. I bought your book, a great investment and I am excited about trying different recipes. I have one question for you, in the Master Recipe, you specifiy to scoop and sweep the flour. Does this apply to all the recipes? I just made a batch of deli style rye and used the scoop and sweep method and am wondering if I should have, the dough doesn’t seem as wet as the Master Dough did when I made it.

  2. Marilyn: Thanks for your enthusiasm!

    Scoop and sweep applies to all the recipes. We sweated over that rye recipe. The typical rye flour available in supermarkets is a very high-bran product, and absorbs a lot of water. So, when first mixed, our rye dough will seem drier than the Master Boule. But rye has certain non-gluten proteins that, over the course of dough storage in the refrigerator, create a rather wet and sticky effect. You’ll see what we mean. On the other hand, if you’re using up your dough quickly and you’re finding the result with the rye to be a bit dry, increase the water by 1/8 or even 1/4 cup and see what you think.

    Let us know!


  3. When storing dough in the refrigerator it gets smaller each day. The first loaf is fine but the dough shrinks and subequent loaves rise less if at all and become gummy. What am I doing wrong?

  4. I’m kicking the tires with this new method, and have a question about home-ground whole wheat flour.

    Will using a finely-ground hard red wheat flour (added as recommended in the recipes) have any unusual effects? I use the “pastry flour” setting of my grain mill to grind this very fine whole-wheat flour and use it successfully in traditional bread methods.

    Thanks for weighing in!

    Cynthia Townley Ewer
    Author, “Houseworks: Cut Your Clutter, Speed Your Cleaning and Calm the Chaos”
    Editor, OrganizedHome.com

  5. Hi Jeff and Zoe–

    I just wanted to let you know that I made the Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls this weekend, and they were a huge hit! This was my first attempt at making any kind of caramel rolls in my life, and I had several people comment that they were “as good as grandma’s!” I did have some trouble with the caramel bubbling over the edge of the baking dish, so next time I might use a cookie sheet underneath to catch any wayward caramel.

    I have been reading through a number of recipes planning out my next experiment, and I have a quick question about the Bran-Enriched White Bread recipe. (pg. 72) I notice the ingredient list calls for a cornstarch wash, but the directions don’t make any reference to this later. Rather than sprinkling the loaf with flour in step 7, should I use the cornstarch wash instead?

    As a sidenote, I was excited to see your pictures of containers that you use. I think I have the exact same ones with the blue lid that I got at Cub Foods recently! They work great!

    Thanks so much! Love the book!


  6. LOVE the book! I’ve recommended it to so many people that I should get a commission!

    Anyway, I have a question. I made the bagels this morning. The recipe called for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. After 20 minutes, they weren’t even close to done. I had to go another 15 minutes before they were brown. They were OK, but I decided to make another batch at 450. After about 22 minutes they were perfect. So, my question is: Is that a type in the recipe? Shouldn’t it be 450, like all of the other recipes?

    BTW, I use an oven thermometer and have so far made about 25 pounds of bread with great success.


  7. Hi,
    I made up a match of your first recipe and put it in the refrigerator. All looked great and I went out of town for the weekend and when I came back my husband noticed that the lid wasn’t tight on my bucket and decided to put the lid on tight! Oh my! So when I went to bake my very first batch of bread I discovered the lid was sealed tight and the dough had flatten out. My question is do I need to throw out this first batch and start all over or can I save this batch? Will the dough raise again, or did we kill the yeast?
    Thanks Terry

  8. I’m going to try to answer all four of the last questions in this one post, so here goes:

    Traci: Is there a chance that you’re mixing your dough too dry? That’s what it sounds like; traditionally-hydrated doughs (ie., drier than ours) cannot be stored for longer than a day or two. After that, you see progressively less rise– and that’s what you’re getting. Our stuff should look wet, like in Zoe’s picture above or the black and white photo on page 28 of our book. One explanation of inadequate hydration would be if you’re using a high-protein flour, or adding in lots of whole grains without compensating with extra water. Any of these could be explanations. Please keep us posted… your experience has not been typical with our readers so something is up.

    Are you writing from Europe, where flours are formulated differently? If so, we’ll have to get to the bottom of your protein percentage. The basic recipe was tested with U.S. white unbleached all-purpose, with a protein percentage ranging from 10% to 11.5%.

    Cynthia: Using “hard” 100% whole wheat flour will change the water requirement, since “hard” flour means “high-protein,” and bran absorbs flour as well. Basically, you’ll need more water because protein absorbs (chemically binds) water. Depending on the characteristics of your home-ground flour, that might mean a quarter to one-half cup of extra water, but go slow in increasing or it may get soupy. That’s my best guess.

    Then there’s the whole wheat issue. We find that a complete substitution is quite nicely accomplished, but you need some shortening, and for most people, some sweetener as well. See our 100% whole wheat recipe on page 76 of the book.

    Terry: Don’t throw it out!! The gas just blew the top off, it’s no big deal. The dough always flattens out by the first 12 to 24 hours. It’s ready to use. Let us know how you make out.

    Hey Zoe, did I miss anything?


  9. Dave: Sorry I missed you. Hey, you’re asking for a commission without even writing a poem for us (see Ann’s post above)? I have to think long and hard about this.

    Not quite so hard about the bagels. I’m pretty sure 400 degrees was correct (Zoe, can you weigh in as well?). Any chance you’re running cool in the oven (most are)? Can you check with a reliable oven thermometer? You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a decent one.

    Bottom line: If you like the result at 450, stay with it? Every time someone tells me they stopped buying a bland supermarket product, I become very, very happy. Who cares what the oven dial says!

    Thanks for trying the recipes and boosting our book to your friends, we really appreciate it.


  10. Traci:

    Any chance you are baking at high altitude? Someone else at high altitude is having exactly your experience… the solution is to use less yeast (a half tablespoon or less), and take the time needed for a slow rise.

    Are you in Banff? Higher? La Paz?


  11. OK. I feel REALLY dumb, but thought I’d share my experience. I bought your book after reading Mark Bittman’s piece about it in the NY Times.

    I made the really silly mistake of using a Pyrex dish for the “water bath”. It was late and I wasn’t thinking. I guess you know what happened next.

    The good news? No injuries. And I have some glass-free dough in the fridge I can use tomorrow for another try.

    The bad news? A glass-embedded loaf and the worst collection of shattered glass in an oven you’ve ever seen. I almost wanted to toss the oven away 🙂

    I hope I’m the only one to have made this mistake. I felt really silly. I’ll use a metal broiler pan tomorrow.

  12. Hi Traci,

    Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I had a feeling when I saw your comment that you were dealing with high altitudes. This is something us Minnesotans don’t have to deal with!!! But, I’ve looked into it for several other readers and this is what I have figured out.

    It turns out there is a big difference if you live above 5,000 feet in how the yeast behaves. It wants to rise really quickly, hence your initial rise, but then it collapses because there isn’t enough structure to support it. In other words you might try things that inhibit it from rising so fast and add more structure to the dough.

    Here are a couple things to try:

    Decrease the yeast to 1 tablespoon, instead of 1 1/2 tablespoons.

    Replace the all-purpose flour with Bread flour, which has more gluten. This may cause your dough to be drier, so you may end up adding a little more water. Whole wheat flour has very little gluten and should be mixed with bread flour or it won’t rise well. You can also try adding vital wheat gluten.

    Increase the salt to inhibit the yeast from growing too fast. If you find this to be too salty then skip it!

    The last thing is to let the dough rise slower and longer before baking because you’ve reduced the yeast. One thing I’ve been experimenting with is forming the loaf and allowing it to rise over night in your refrigerator. Just shape it into the boule, put it on a piece of parchment paper and cover it with plastic. In the morning preheat your oven, with the stone on the middle rack, dust the dough with flour, slash and slide the cold dough into the preheated oven. It may not seem as though it has risen much, mine looked like it spread out bt then in the oven it had great rise.

    Try that and let me know what happens! If this doesn’t work we will try something else.

    Thanks for trying the bread and good luck!!!


  13. Hi Roxi,

    Yes, I got mine at Cub as well!!! They are great buckets but be sure not to close them all the way or you will trap too much of the gas from the yeast. I just leave mine open a crack!

    Thanks, Zoe

  14. Hi Dave,

    I had one other person say this about her bagels and she too started baking them at 450 with great results!

    We tested them at 400 degrees, but as we have found out recently every oven is SOOO different. So 450 it is for your oven!

    Thanks, Zoe

  15. Hi Bill,

    Oh no!!! I’m sorry to hear this. I’m sure your not the only one. One of my girlfriends just recently put a roasting pan with a COLD chicken on the door of her HOT oven and the window cracked.

    This will also happen if you put a cold baking stone in a hot oven.

    Thank you for sharing this story, you will no doubt save a lot of people from sharing in this misery!!!!


  16. Thanks a million to Bill for helping to avert a kitchen disaster! I’ll be baking my first loaf tonight and was contemplating using a glass pan for the steam, since my broiler pan seems to have flown the coop. I will be using a metal pan, possibly my roasting pan.

  17. I was given your book for Christmas, and I sat down to read it before trying anything. I said to my husband– if this works, it’s revolutionary! (I hadn’t noticed the subtitle on the jacket yet!) I tried the basic master recipe and oh, my! My life is transformed! I have tried many different bread making techniques, and I may never go back to them. I am telling the world about this book! (At least a dozen, thus far!)

  18. Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you so much for trying the recipes, I’m so glad you are enjoying them!

    Thanks too for spreading the word to your friends!!


  19. Hi,

    I was wondering if I can use a large stainless steel bowl to store the bread in. I’m not crazy about using plastic. It has a lid that I do not think is airtight.


  20. Hi Cathy,

    Yes, you can use stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowls. Just make sure you have enough room for the dough to rise (6 qts) and that you cover the dough.



  21. Hi:
    I have 2 questions. When I cloak, I have a hard time getting it smooth, and it tends to look “shaggy” Is this critical? Also, When I was cloaking I felt a hard piece of dough and thought it might be drying out in the fridge. Is there a possibility the dough was to cold? Thanks

  22. I am going to start right now. I am Italian and cannot get the bread I am used to from my childhood. The bread on the cover looks so delicious. Thanks for you research. I’ll try to let you know how I do.

  23. I’ve made two loaves so far and they’ve both been very good. I found a great container at Target. The brand was Reynolds Casuals and it is a 25 cup container, so just over six quarts and it has a small gasket in the lid that I leave open. I think the original intention was to let steam out of the container when you’re microwaving, but it has worked really well to store my dough. It’s the right size, and keeps the dough covered while still letting the gas escape.

    Thanks for writing such a wonderful book, I’m really looking forward to making the brioche this weekend. We really enjoy good bread, I like baking, but never really got into breadmaking, kneading, etc… and with a full time job and a toddler in the house I don’t have a lot of free time, but your book makes it easy to have fabulous bread.

  24. Mary Beth:
    Thanks for the great bucket suggestion, wow, a valve(basically). Thanks for your enthusiasm, so glad the recipes are working well for you.


  25. Hi Mary Beth,

    This is a very exciting discovery indeed! I will go to Target tomorrow.

    Let me know how you like the brioche, it is one of my favorites!!!

    Thanks for the nice feedback.


  26. OK you guys, that brioche is indescribably delicious. I only made a half batch of dough as I was constrained by container size and refrigerator space, and now, I’m regretting that decision. I have to admit that I really had my doubts since the dough seemed so wet and sticky I didn’t feel like I got a good cloak, and I actually think I underbaked it a little. Despite all that, it was so delicious and tender. We couldn’t even wait to let it cool since the house smelled so good and we were really hungry.

  27. Hi Mary Beth,

    I’m so glad you liked it!!!! Yeah, just wait until you make it into caramel rolls or the danish. You’ll need bigger buckets! 😉

    Thanks, Zoe

  28. I love, love love your book. I’ve been baking the bread since I saw the recipe in the NY Times. The book was on back order for many weeks at our local book stores.

    I had never made a yeast bread before this – always feared it. I still stare at each of my beautiful crusty boules and can’t believe I made it. In March some French friends will be staying at my house and I can’t wait to bake if for them.

    Tonight I tried to make the pizza from the basic boule refrigerated dough. It was very difficult to roll or hand shape the dough, it was so sticky. I managed to make one, but the second one never made its way into the oven – it was way too wet and sticky to handle even after adding flour to the dough or the board.

    Is there any hope?

    Thanks, much.

  29. Hi Barbara:

    Of course there’s hope! Just use lots of white flour on your rolling-out surface. Keep adding as you roll and turn over; if necessary, working it in by “cloaking,” though I’m finding that the less cloaking you do with pizza, the better. If you do less cloaking, the dough doesn’t “resist” your rolling action and is easier to spread out.

    If my approach doesn’t work, you just need to start with a slightly drier dough. Try adding a quarter cup more flour and see how it works.


  30. Think I am having some trouble with the cloaking part. My attempts so far have all turned out as rather small loaves – and yes I do need to increase the fridge to oven time span. But based on a previous post I can’t find now, I think I need a cloaking refresher.

    My last attempt was quite interesting – came home from a residency and pulled out the dough, cloaked it, and set it in the slightly warmed oven. Fell asleep, woke up 9 hours later and there was no way I was staying up to bake. Got up 3 hours later and turned on the oven. The loaf had risen more than before but when I went to slash it, found it had about an 1/8″ crust on it and under the crust it had fallen. Ok, so with nothing to lose, I baked it. It got very crisp crusted and inside was quite nice & holey. Actually not bad for the flop I expected. Was able to pull out some of the center to eat and it was good. Won’t be trying another loaf when I’m exhausted again! Or set the alarm…

    Thanks for the cloaking refresher.

  31. Ann: for the best cloaking refresher, click on “Videos” on this website and view either the Minneapolis Star Tribune, or the Chicago Tribune video, I can’t remember which one has more of a closeup of what your hands do when you cloak. Just use lots of flour (without incorporating it in), and gently pull the top around to the bottom, just until it seems to “come alive.” This is actually a traditional baking technique used with kneaded bread too, but it works as a great substitute for kneading with long-fermented wet dough.


  32. Great book: I have had good success with three batches using 3 to 5 hours initial rise before refrigerating dough. Last night I made a batch but accidentally left it out at room temperature (68F)overnight for 12 hours. Dough looked ok so I placed it in the refrigerator anyway. Any concerns about Is this batch a bust? Anyway to evaluate it before baking?


  33. Hi everyone…I’ve been reading some of the comments from folks who have had trouble transferring their dough to the stone. I discovered a device called a “SuperPeel” that is a very nicely made wooden peel with a canvas type “conveyor belt” contraption that so easily transfers breads and pizzas onto your stone. I found it online at superpeel.com. Check it out!! So far, it has worked beautifully for me without any foldover disasters.

  34. Hi Richard,

    This has happened to me on several occasions. Mix the batch up and fall asleep with it still on the counter. It doesn’t seem to make any difference at all. I just put it in the refrigerator in the morning and carry on as if nothing had happened.

    Let me know how the bread comes out, it should be just fine!

    Thanks, Zoë

  35. I made my first batch of the master recipe last Sunday. We’ve had fresh, wonderful bread every day. The downside is we love it so much we eat the whole loaf in a day and I’m trying to lose weight before a Hawaii trip…I guess I’ll have to work out more!! I’ve purchased books for friends and my daughter. It’s a great gift. Thank you so much.

  36. Hi Marvyl,

    We have often said that we should have included a gym membership with the book.

    I’m willing to be your personal chef and trainer in Hawaii!!!

    Have a great trip and enjoy all the bread.

    Thanks for sharing the book with so many of your loved ones!


  37. Marvyl: Greetings from Florida, where I am absorbing heat and humidity like a greedy sponge… do you need a personal physician in Hawaii? Jeff

  38. From my comment on 1/22 and your response….

    I (along with 2 friends I ordered for also):) received my book – hooray – it only took 4.5 weeks! But it’s here and I can’t wait to get started.

    Thank you Jeff and others, for your response about the pizza peel. I am getting so much better at it. Now that I’ll have a chance to try the pizza recipes I’m glad to have your advice about not letting it sit for too long.

    Take care,

  39. I had a piece of dough that has been in my container for just a week. I made a loaf today and it rose well and tasted great, but there were gray areas in the bread. What’s with that? I had re-mixed the dough in the same container without washing and I did notice that is seemed a little funky. We are,however, still alive after eating the bread.

  40. Hi Rosemary,

    You are safe. This happens sometimes as the dough ages and the yeast dies off. There is nothing harmful or bad going on, just the natural progression of the yeast. Make sure your lid isn’t on too tight so that the gas can escape. I find this prevents some of this discoloring from happening.

    If it is just a small amount left in the bucket, you may want to treat it like a starter next time and thoroughly mix it into the next batch of dough.

    Thanks, Zoë

  41. I just heard about your book, and have ordered it. Can’t wait till it comes. Speaking of buckets…would an old ice cream bucket work? At least until I come up with something better?

  42. Amy: So long as it’s food-grade (food-safe) and has a lid that can be cracked open a little at the beginning of the rising process, it will work. Also, it needs to be large enough (5 quarts for the standard recipe). Jeff

  43. I am loving your book that I received from my husband as a Valentine gift! And he had a great idea for the five quart bucket – the Tupperware cake container that I never use- I just turn it upside down and put the “lid” on loosely. It does take up a lot of room in the fridge, but it works!

  44. Hi Ellen,

    What a wonderful valentine’s gift and your husband will get the gift of fresh bread!

    I love your bucket idea!

    Thanks, Zoë

  45. Bread buckets – I also been using the tops of my Rubbermaid/Tupperware cake keepers. For covering I use the plastic shower caps – the ones you get at hotels.

  46. Hi Lisa,

    I love the shower cap idea! Jeff and I are about to go on a book tour and I will start to collect the shower caps from the hotels.

    Thanks for the great idea! You should submit that to Fine cooking magazine. They have a prize for the best kitchen idea.


  47. Thanks – I just might do that! I am always looking for ways to recycle – I often wonder if anyone really uses those shower caps. I have used them for years to cover salads etc. at outside parties. I live near lots of farms and the flies can be numerous! Trick is if you want them to put out a new one you have to take the one that is there – if staying multiple days! The only thing I notice is that there is condensation on the top when I open to remove a hunk of dough so I just flip it over 🙂

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