Q&A MISC. Bread Questions

Until we can figure out a more sophisticated way to handle your feedback, your praise and your questions, we hope the following series of Q&A posts will help. Our goal is to get a conversation going about a particular topic in one location. Hoping that it will be easier for you to follow and get the information you need to bake gorgeous bread.

If we haven’t started a thread on the subject you are interested in then leave it here and we can create another post!

Thank you so much for all of the conversation. We enjoy it immensely and are learning so much from you all!

Zoë and Jeff

2,335 thoughts to “Q&A MISC. Bread Questions”

  1. Hi,
    I tried the Whole Grain Artisan Loaf recipe, and ended up with dough that is too soft. (I watched the video on line, and your dough is stiffer then what I ended up with) My dough oozes when I set it out before baking. Can I add flour to the remaining dough to stiffen it up some???

    1. Laura: Maybe you should just increase the flour a bit.

      Sounds like your result is too wet, given that stickiness. You can work in extra flour after the initial mix, provided you allow the dough to sit a couple hours at room temperature after the addition. Subsequent batches can get the extra flour on the front end. Jeff

  2. I’d like to try and add the Hi-maze fiber from King Arthur to the plain white boule, would you recommend a straight substitution or an addition? I love the whole wheat breads from hbin5 but my husband prefers the plain boule and I would like him to get just a little more fiber in his diet!

    1. Kylie: You’re not going to be able to just swap that flour, it will likely absorb too much water. A mixture might be OK, but you might need to increase the water. I’ve never used this flour so can’t say much more. Jeff

  3. I am wondering if your gluten free breads can be baked in loaf pans instead of at high temperatures for a crispy crust?
    Thank you,


  4. Hi.
    I want to share a discovery that might be useful in helping other people. I have been using your method since a couple of years, and each time I teached it to somebody else, the result was always better than at home. I finally found why.

    There is too much chlorine in the tap water at home, in Pierrefons. My friends live in other cities where the tap water contains less chlorine, or comes from a well (with no chlorine).

    I have started boiling my water a few hours before making bread, to release the chlorine, and I now get better results than ever.

    It seems the chlorine “kills” the yeast, at least partially.



  5. Hi Zoe, I used refrigerated dough. It was refrigerated only one night.

    I see now, I should only have boiled them 1 minute less on the second side. What about boiling them for 2 minutes total?

    Does baking them with steam cause them to have more oven spring? My bagels were flat when baked on the cookie sheet.

    Oh, I adore your strudel bread. Reminds me of my mom’s strudel.

    Thanks so much,

    Judy L, TN

    1. Judy: You can try boiling them for 2 minutes total, sure. Steam in the oven doesn’t affect oven spring, just the crust quality. And a stone will give you lots more spring than a cookie sheet, so give that a try. Jeff

  6. Hi Zoe and Jeff: I made up a batch of the 10 grain bread dough from HBin5 on sunday let it rise and popped it in the fridge – pulled some out today to bake but the dough is not very moist – its’ really dense. The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups of water – is that correct ? I’ve just added a cup of water and am seeing if the dough will rise again … I think my dough is too wet now though – thoughts ? should I toss the dough and start over ?

    Thanks in advance,

  7. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I hope you can help me with a substitution. The baking group will next make red beet buns. YUK! I really don’t like beets. But I have some flour and would like to make the buns.

    What could I sub, that’s dairy free? For example, I would use soy yogurt if you suggest yogurt.

    Thanks, and I’ll report your answer to the group.


    1. Judy: the only swap would be some other vegetable, otherwise it’s just unrelated. Brocolli? Sweet potato? Other root vegetable? Jeff

  8. Jeff – I’m using Gold Medal unbleached flour and Trader Joe’s white whole wheat flour. I’m not sure what went wrong – but the dough was super dense and a big blob when I pulled off some to bake. I’m going to try to bake some today – so will see what happens.

    I’ve used many of your recipes from both books and haven’t had any problems with the recipes before … I love your books and the breads are fabulous!

    1. Hi Doreen,

      It sounds like your dough was too dry, but adding a full extra cup of water may have made it too wet. The various 10 grain cereals may have slightly different grains which may absorb water differently. If the dough is too dry I usually start by adding an additional 1/4 cup of water and see if that does the trick.

      I would use the dough that you now have that is too wet as a flatbread, which does not require the dough to hold its shape. It actually benefits from being wet.

      I hope that helps? Zoë

  9. Thanks Zoe – I’m pretty sure the dough is too wet now. I baked some bread with it today and it didn’t have any oven spring at all – it still tastes good though. I’m going to follow your advice and use the rest of it for flatbread. I looked at the flatbreads and focaccia’s in HBin5 and there are many that I’d like to try. Thanks again for your quick responses and having such a wonderful resource available to us!

  10. Thank you for answering my question. I purchased your book, “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” I made the gluten free crusty boule dough, but have not baked it yet. If I bake it in a loaf pan and prefer a softer crust, what temperature would I use and for about how long would I bake it?

    Thank you

    1. Claire: We didn’t test it this way, so I can’t vouch for it, but I’m guessing that you can decrease the temp to 350 and bake for about 55 to 60 minutes. Jeff

  11. I’m still experimenting with less yeast and longer rise time for more “yeast flavor”. I used half the yeast in my last batch and it seemed to top out after about 8 hours. I put it in the fridge after it was clear it wasn’t rising any more. I used a little less yeast in my current batch and I’m going to see how long it rises.
    My question is: Would I continue to develop any yeast flavor if I left the bread out even after it’s no longer visibly rising?

  12. Thanks Jeff, No I hadn’t seen that but I just read it and many of the posts. That’s exactly the info I needed.

  13. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I figured out a mystery from December. I couldn’t figure out why the pumpernickel bread wasn’t dark enough.

    I was making the chocolate expresso bread for the HB5 baking group today. I got out my jar of instant expresso powder. Like last time, I was going to use a teaspoon. It had been awhile since I used it, so I read the instructions. The instructions say to use a rounded teaspoon for a 3 ounce cup!

    I am guessing that iIdidn’t use enough expresso powder for that pumpernickel bread. That’s probably why it wasn’t dark enough.

    Thanks, Judy L, TN

  14. I made the Soft American-Style White Bread and it turned out great. But by day 3, it was pretty dry. Can I replace the butter with another fat or dairy, so that it will stay moist and sliceable for 5-6 days?

    1. Gretchen: Homemade bread, made without preservatives, is not very good by day three. Consider using smaller pans so it won’t last so long, I like the mini loaf pans: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000VLH06?ie=UTF8&tag=arbrinfimiada-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0000VLH06“>Chicago Metallic Professional Mini Loaf Pan, Set of 4<img src=”https://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=arbrinfimiada-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B0000VLH06″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;

  15. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I have a squaw bread recipe for my breadmachine which we just adore. It reminds me, to a certain extent, to your whole grain recipes. It’s made with bread flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour. All in pretty nice sized proportions. It has oil, water, milk (I used soy milk), honey, salt, raisins, yeast. You blend the raisins with the liquids to puree them. I can list the recipe, if you want it. My question–I would like to turn this into a HB5-type recipe. The flour is 4 1/2 cups. Water/milk is almost 3cups total. Then there is oil and honey…

    Any suggestions, before I try experimenting?


    Judy L

    1. Hi Judy,

      It sounds great! You will want to work in some Vital Wheat Gluten in order to store the dough for more than a day or two. The bread and whole grain flours absorb lots of water, but the rye has very little protein so it will not. It is going to be a matter of trial and error, but well worth the effort!

      Enjoy and have fun! Zoë

  16. Thanks Jeff. I don’t really want to buy new bread pans, so a better solution for me would be to cut the loaves in half and freeze it until I need it. Thanks for the idea.

  17. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I have this page bookmarked, so I automatically go to it. But I went to your contact page from the home page and see that it’s been eliminated as a link. Would you rather people go to other pages to ask questions? I like this page because it used to have an archive. There is so much good information on this page!

    I’ll work on the squaw bread after the holiday. It’s hard to work experimentation of recipes and bake for the baking group. This week, I had to choose not to bake one of the breads so I could do taxes. I hope to make the pesto bread in the future….

    1. Hi Judy,

      We get your comments and questions no matter where you leave them.

      Sounds like you are busy baking. Have fun! Zoë

  18. My house is cold and takes a long time for the second rise before baking. Can I shape the loaf and stick it in the refrigerator the night before. Wake up the next morning & pop it in the oven? Thanks for your help. Everyone loves the bread I’m baking from you book.

    1. Hi Debra,

      Yes, we do a slow refrigerator rise for all kinds of breads and it works beautifully.

      Thanks and enjoy all the bread! Zoë

  19. I bought your first book a couple of weeks ago and I bought your second book yesterday. If I can not buy spelt locally (I don’t want to mail order), can I replace it with unbleached flour in your recipes? For example, I would like to make your herbed potato and roasted garlic bread in the Healthy Breads book.

    1. Wende: Whole wheat would be closer to what we had– we used whole grain spelt in the recipes, but you may need to increase the water a little to keep the consistency the same. Jeff

  20. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    My business more than tripled last week, after the newspaper article. So I’m trying to figure out how to take advantage of all the new business.

    I’ve been making the dough on Sunday, shaping on Monday and doing a refrigerator rise overnight. Then I bake on Tuesday and sell on Wed.

    I only have so much refrigerator and freezer space. I was wondering if maybe I could make the AB5 master dough (with some starter) on Monday night and let it sit covered overnight and bake Tuesday morning. I just wouldn’t refrigerate it, and could use my 12 qt tall dough bucket. That way, it would be ready to go in the morning to shape and bake. It would rise faster, also.

    Also, can I triple or quadruple the recipe? I realize I would be using a big mixer and could probably use a different recipe so that the mixer would knead the dough. But I am used to your recipes. Or, should I use baker’s math to find the percents and increase the recipe that way?

    Wow, increased business has it’s challenges. I sold 20 loaves last week.

    Thanks for everything, Judy

  21. Can certainly scale up the recipe however you like, only limit is mixing bowl size. THe only prob with overnight rising at room temp is that the dough can be very sticky to work with when warm, but if you find you can shape effectively, go for it. Jeff

  22. Hi Jeff,

    In the past, I’ve almost always refrigerated the dough before shaping (except challah). I did decide to do an extra batch of AB5 Master today, and I see what you mean. It was really sticky! I was wondering if I didn’t add enough flour, or added too much water. Thanks for your answer. It was almost like ciabatta.

    For putting it in a loaf pan, I ended up doing the gluten cloak “upside down.” I put the dough on the counter and pulled over to the top. It wasn’t the same, but I think it should work. It felt a bit firmer after that and a letterfold.

    Thanks so much for your answer. Now I know I didn’t do anything wrong. I might do a batch of AB5 first thing in the morning and refrigerate it for awhile before using it in the afternoon. People are asking for crust breads, and this won’t be loaves.

    Thanks again!!!


  23. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    Do you have any suggestions for increasing the rise on the AB5 deli rye? I tried bread flour and VWG (that needed more water, too).

    Neither rise went up very high.

    Thanks, Judy

    1. Surprised that you didn’t find that the protein increases didn’t help. I bet the problem is sideways spreading. Two suggestions to try:

      1. Shorter storage time– retains dough strength so won’t spread as much sideways
      2. Drier dough: More in the direction of typical moisture level. Don’t overdo it and you’ll still find the dough is storable (maybe not as long). Decrease the water by 1/8 to 1/4 cup and see what you think. Drier dough doesn’t spread sideways as much.

  24. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I did find something interesting that happened with the batch I made the other day (not yet baked). I usually do a batch by hand. This time, I did several batches of different kinds of doughs. As long as the mixer needs washing, I might as well do another batch after.

    I really let the mixer do it’s job, and mixed it really well. Part of it at speed 2. The rise on the dough was much better. I’m hoping that will translate into higher rise of the bread. I don’t know if I changed the amount of water or not to keep from overheating the mixer vs what I’d do by hand.

    I will let it have a shorter rise, and hoping for the best.

    Thanks so much. I got a good report on a big long loaf from someone who drove an hour to get it. She moved from a city with a large Polish community, and was soooo in the mood for good deli rye! Thanks!


  25. Hi Jeff and Zoe,
    I sold out again (7 rye breads plus others). I think I’m going to try mixing all my dough with the mixer next time. I don’t know which batch was which, but some of the rye breads really rose better!

  26. Thanks, Jeff, for reminding me about oven spring. I don’t have to wait for all the rise before the baking.

    Is the Apples n Honey Whole Grain Challah recipe correct? It’s the baking club assignment. I made a whole batch and the dough was rather thin. It has double the liquid of the recipe without apples. Also, with the addition of the apples to the dough, the dough rose over the dough bucket while I was out running errands. It was like a movie of “The Blob.”

    Someone else has done this recipe so far also, and said theirs was very thin also. I had to make a loaf pan bread, too thin to braid.

    I like this technique of adding the apples to the batter. It saves time over rolling out the dough, sprinkling the apples on top, and then rolling the dough up to braid.

    Thanks, please let me know. I think this would make a good hostess gift for the holidays.


  27. Also, we tried baking crusty breads in my friend’s professional convection oven. I see what you mean. Even though we had the fan on low, the fan pulled the heat and steam out of the oven. We did get some crust, but not as good as if it were a pizza oven or regular oven.

    I’m wondering if I can adapt my grilled chiminea to outdoor baking with a stone. I have a divided bbq which won’t work.



    1. sounds like it might not trap the steam. try the covered approached (a lasagne pan overturned on the bread for the first 2/3’s of baking. Or a cloche, or dutch oven.

  28. Hi, recently the bread I have been baking from your master recipe has been coming out perfectly cooked on the outside and still soggy in the middle. Do you know what I might be doing wrong? Thanks!

    1. Gbasset: You say “recently,” does that mean that your oven used to perform differently? Sounds like your temperature is off, check your oven with something like https://bit.ly/czmco2

      If everything’s right, you just need to bake longer– allow the crust to brown more darkly than what you’re used to. Jeff

  29. I just tried to make your msemmen bread and all I have is a gloppy mess. I used 4 oz of your basic boule. I rolled it out but it doesn’t seem very large although it is thin. The oil spice mixture is very thin. I spread it on top but it is too much. Then when I went to roll it most of the mixture ran off. I could not make a coil. What have I done wrong

  30. Amy: If it doesn’t seem very large, that’s probably the problem– it needs to spread over a pretty large surface.

    But bottom line– if it seems you have too much spice/oil mixture, just don’t use all of it. If it’s mostly rolling off, you have too much relative to the area of the dough-circle. Jeff

  31. I have to make an eggless challah – can I take your challah recipe in the first book and substitute water for the egss and how much water per egg. I realize I will probably have to experiment a bit but what ratio should I start with

    1. Hi Amy,

      There are vegan egg replacers on the market that may be a good choice in this case. They will mimic some of the leavening properties so that your bread won’t be too dense. I have never tried this with our traditional challah, but I know it works in our gluten-free recipes.

      Thanks, Zoë

  32. Re: Gbasset’s question. I’m having the same issue. If this is happening due to the oven temperature being wrong, do you think the temperature is too low or too high?

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