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

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

  1. Can you recommend a pizza peel to use with baking bread? The one recommended on this web site is no longer available through amazon.com.


    1. Hi Heather,

      I’m sure it will become available again, it is a very popular product and they probably just ran out from the holidays. Here is another one that is very popular right now. I’ve never tried it, but it gets good reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Super-Peel-Solid-White-Made/dp/B001T6OVPO/ref=pd_sim_k_1

      This one I have and I like it very much. Some people have complained about an odor, but I’ve never detected anything on mine? http://www.amazon.com/Epicurean-Cutting-Surfaces-14-Inch-Natural/dp/B000PRI3TS/ref=pd_sim_k_2

      Thanks, Zoë

  2. I’ve been making the Cooks Illustrated almost no knead bread for a while (in a loaf pan using 18 oz of flour). When I got your book I tried the brioche recipe in the pan, and when I measured out 1 lb of dough, it looked kind of small, and even after letting it rise over 2 hrs, the finished loaf was more the size of a quick bread then what I have been used to with the CI recipe. Could one problem be I converted your cups of flour @ 4.5 oz instead of 5 oz which I saw Jeff mention in an earlier post above? Just be more patient and let it rise longer? This time of year the kitchen is cold in the morning – put it in a slightly heated over to rise? Put more than 1 lb of dough in the pan? Otherwise it tasted great and my wife wants me to make it every weekend. Thanks a lot.

    1. Paul: Yes, we use 5 ounces for a cup of unbleached AP flour (make sure it’s unbleached). Also, in the book we talk about using more than a pound of dough to get a generous result in U.S.-sized loaf pans– even the Chicago Metallic (supposedly) 1-pound loaf pan (http://tinyurl.com/c826ua) yields a prettier result when we use 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of dough. Jeff

  3. I have two loaves of dough resting in the refrigerator to bake tomorrow – I am baking them both in glass bread pans to see how they might work for me without a stone for a sailing trip I am taking soon. One is buttermilk and one is regular boule…What temperature would be optimum for the boule? Do I go by the high temp the boule requires with a stone or is it lower due to baking in the bread pan? Also -will the crust split if I do not slash it?

    1. Dianne: You don’t absolutely have to slash loaf-pan breads, but you can. Keep the temp the same, assuming the glass pan can tolerate the higher temp. Jeff

  4. Oh my gosh! I just got your book and the first recipe I tried is the Olive Spelt Bread. It is absolutely divine. I love the fact that I still have dough in the fridge so I can make more tomorrow. My question is whether this dough is too wet to proof in a banneton? I just ordered a small plastic one made in Germany.

  5. Hi Zoe,

    Thanks for your response. I have a recipe for the Ukrainian Black Bread, but am absolutely lost on how to merge it with this system. I’ve placed a link to the recipe in hopes that you can look at it and see if it’s possible to make something this complicated with your system.


    I’ve made this once before using the recipe and it is pretty close to what my in’laws eat in Ukraine.



    1. Michael: If you want to turn this into a stored-dough recipe like ours, you have to increase the water content… once you do that, it won’t be that different from some of our recipes. So just start increasing the water, until you get the batches to look like the moisture level you see in our videos at http://artisanbreadinfive.com/?page_id=63.


  6. I understand that this is counter to everything you are doing…but how can one convert one of your recipes to a knead-bread? I am enjoying your book and the bread very much but I also have time and enjoy kneading. Is it possible to convert the Olive Spelt recipe?

    1. Hi Sandra,

      If you made the dough into a bread that you could knead it would be much too dry to store in the refrigerator for more than a day, which would mean you are losing all of the time saving benefits. If you want to try a loaf just cut the recipe in 1/4 and keep adding flour until it is smooth and forms a cohesive ball. I’m not sure how long you would need to allow it to rise, then punch it down and let it rise again before baking. Have fun kneading!

      Enjoy, Zoë

  7. I will certainly give it a try. Although, my flour seems to be finer than what your pictures show. Thanks for the post for those of us who grind our own grain.

  8. Lentil Curry Bread- I would like to know how much liquid should be with the cooked lentils when they are blended? The dough needed more flour to make it workable. Even adding more, the loaves spread. I knew from previous experience that the dough should be wet, but it was really wet! I did not add much more water, kept it just covering the lentils when they cooked. Wonderful flavor, will make it again, but having an amount for the cooking liquid would ensure more control over the dough. Thanks!

    1. Kathleen: Here’s how I tested the recipe– I put the lentils in a 5-cup saucepan and put in the 4 1/4 cups water. Brought to a boil, then low simmer. Everything will depend on how old your lentils are; old ones will take longer. That means some water boils off and has to be replaced, even though covered. The way I dealt with this in the recipe instructions was to say “keep just-covered” with water during cooking. If your lentils are soft in 30 min, you’ll need less water than if they need to go 60 min.

      Hope that helps. It should be wet as in our videos at http://artisanbreadinfive.com/?page_id=63, but not too wet or it will spread sideways. Could try a loaf pan if that’s a persistent problem. Same baking time assuming it’s a smallish loaf pan. Or try the Dutch oven method at http://artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=552.

  9. Zoe,
    I finally got around to try the 10-Grain recipe with new yeast. I got a better rise, but still not doubled in size. I baked a loaf this morning for breakfast and while the flavor was good, the crust was VERY hard and it was a little gummy inside. I opted to not use the steam since my oven just releases it all through the vent anyway. Perhaps this is why my crusts are so hard?

    1. Hi Sherry,

      It sounds like your dough is too dry or your oven is baking too hot. Does the dough feel like it has any stretch when you pull it out of the bucket? Do you have an oven thermometer?

      Thanks, Zoë

  10. I am trying to adapt your methods to cook for a ministry in Africa and have some questions. I spent a month trying your recipes at home so am fairly familiar with them. Here in Africa I am trying to find ways to increase the nutrition for those children in the care of the Serving His Children mission house by incorporating locally available foods. Unfortunately, although we have an oven, they are not built to cook at a higher temp than 350. I would love suggestion on adapting to bake at that temp and any other ideas – there is no whole wheat flour or wheat berries available here but a very fine white flour (I did find some soy flour though!) I will be here for another 3 weeks and would love to make your methods work here as a part of the diet for these children in our malnourishment program. (it is also a treat for the volunteers who serve here!)

    Thanks for your help!

    Lauri –
    Serving His Children.org
    Uganda, Africa

    1. Hi Lauri,

      Is the “very fine white flour” wheat flour? (It may turn out to be tapioca or other gluten-free flour?) Adding soy flour is a great way to add protein to the mix with wheat. Soy has no gluten so it will make the dough seem wetter than normal, just add it sparingly.

      What are the local ingredients that you could add?

      You can bake the breads at 350 degrees, just increase the baking time by 10-15 minutes.

      Thank you! Zoë

  11. Hi Folks,
    I live at 4000 ft. When I followed your recipe it tasted great but had none of the wonderful “holiness” I was looking for. I tried letting it rise at different times, 45 min., 1 hr., 1 & 1/2 hrs. Nothing I did gave me any holes. Do I need to adjust the recipe and if so how? I really liked the taste of the bread and so did my husband. Also how did you get that nice “shiny” crust in your pictures? Thanks for all your help!


  12. Never mind, I found all the answers I need on your Q & A section. Thanks everyone!! It’s back to the drawing board for me.


  13. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    The HB5 baking group is so inspiring! I set up my own blog to show my group baking projects.

    And my first project was to experiment with 3 different flours to see how the AB5 recipe worked with each. Hope you will check it out! People have been wondering how the higher priced flours compared to lower priced ones, so I sampled a few. I plan to experiment with other ingredients in the future.

    And I also have a vote going to see what brand of flour people use.

    I hope you will come by, check out the flour test, and VOTE!

  14. I love, love your book. Got it for Christmas. I had been baking bread by hand… but not often. Since I started using your method we have fresh baked bread all the time… yummm!
    Noticed in some of the recipes you call for “ground” flax. I have just been using flax seeds (whole) in place – have not seen ground flax. Is that “ground” as in like flour – or just ground up coarsely? Do I just need to grind them myself? Nothing has turned out bad when I just use the flax seeds whole. A little insight please.
    Thanks so much for your great book!!

    1. Judy: A lot of people asked for flax because of the health benefits (omega-3 fatty acids and lignans). Those are locked into the seeds and are undigestible (unabsorbable) if the seeds aren’t ground. Plus, I don’t imagine the unground seeds are changing flavor very much.

      I use a finely ground flax, coarse should also work. Bob’s Red Mill has ground flax (must be stored in the dark in the fridge or even the freezer as it goes rancid fast). The advantage of whole seeds is they’re not so perishable but then, you do need to grind yourself. I use a rotary coffee grinder. Jeff

  15. I could not get the archive by month pages to open today. Each month opened on the same page. Is this normal? I instead searched by clicking on the bottom of your home page on “Keep Looking” and I was able to access all your old recipes. I want to suggest that you have an index of your recipes so that we can click on just the recipes we have not looked at, simply navigating to the recipes from one page.

    1. Aimee: The Archive is currently not functioning properly, we’re working on it, so sorry about that. Thanks for the suggestion on indexing the website, that’s a project for down the line… Jeff

  16. Thanks for a great book(ABin5)! I’ve really enjoyed making several of the recipes and am looking forward to making many more.

    I was wondering if you had a recipe or a way to modify one of the existing recipes to make Hoagie/Sub rolls. I grew up in the Philadelphia area (now in MT) and enjoy a good cheasteak on occasion. I would love a good recipe for sub rolls that could be used for cheesesteaks, subs, French Dip, meatball sandwiches, sausage etc. Thanks!

  17. I apologize if you’ve already answered this question, but the thread is so long I just gave up and decided to write instead. I made the whole wheat dough using white whole wheat flour. After about 10 days the top of the dough had completely changed color to gray. When I used the dough after 14 days I poured off the brown liquid that had gathered in the mean time. Your book said that patches of dark color meant mold. But because mine was completely covered, and had been for a little while, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Was it moldy? Was it unusable? PS Your recipes consistently make fabulous bread. Thanks.

    1. Hi Jane,

      it sounds like your dough was just fine, but had developed the typical discoloration and normal liquid. Pouring off the liquid is all that should be done. You can either use the dough for baking or mix it into the next batch to jump start the flavor of your next batch.

      Thanks and enjoy, Zoë

  18. Do you have a recipe that uses Harvest Grains Blend and/or Ancient Grains Flour Blend from King Arthur Flour?
    I just bought some of both and would really like to have a 5 minute a day recipe.
    I bought your oth\er book for my daughter and she loves it.
    I have the healthy bread book.

    Love your recipes ad can’t wait to try some more.

    Diane K

    1. Diane: Haven’t used either of those flour blends. Assuming that they are 100% whole grain, you should be able to substitute them for whole wheat or whole grain rye, in any of our recipes that call for whole wheat or rye in a blend with all-purpose. You can probably use them in the 100% whole grain recipes in the new book as well. Unless there’s something very coarse in it and then you need a little more liquid. If this stuff is really heavy, you should use it in a recipe that already calls for vital wheat gluten (anything from the Healthy Bread in 5 book). Jeff

  19. Just used spelt flour for the first time (made spelt and olive bread) and I was suprised by how white it appeared and how mild the flavor was. It seemed like it couldn’t possible be whole grain. My husband had bought it in bulk at a food coop so I’m not sure exactly how it was labeled. I started looking online and came across references to “white spelt flour” and “light spelt flour” that sound like they have some or most of bran and germ removed. I’m confused because the book said that no refined spelt flour products were sold in the US. Is that no longer true?

    By the way, I received HBin5 for Christmas and am thrilled with it. I had not baked bread before, despite several years of wanting to, and now I can’t count how many pounds of dough I’ve made in the past month. Your book makes bread making so accessible it seems ridiculous that it took me this long to get going.


    1. Rachel: No sooner was the book written than I noticed that there are in fact, bran-depleted spelt products in the U.S. Bob’s Red Mill is the main supplier, I haven’t seen any others. And in bulk, I’ve never seen anything but full-bran spelt in my coop. So I’m doubting that the bulk stuff you have is truly “light,” but I could be wrong. The “light” spelt will take less water so if everything came out fine, that’s further evidence for full-bran.

      Glad the recipes are working well for you… Jeff

  20. We used to buy bags of frozen “par-baked” Portuguese rolls from the supermarket and finish baking them individually at home just before dinner. They tasted pretty good — almost homemade. If I wanted to try this with your whole grain loaves, can you estimate how long I’d have to bake them initially (so they’d be “partially baked”) before freezing them in order to finish the baking process later.

    1. Hi Harlan,

      We do talk about parbaking in HBin5. I think it is a wonderful thing to do. You want to bake them about 90% of the way, so they are fully baked, but just haven’t colored all the way. The time will depend on the size of your loaves.

      Enjoy! Zoë

    1. Hi Jeanette,

      Yes, you can make your loaf as large as you want. You will need to allow the loaf to rest longer before baking and also bake longer to make sure it is baked through. Are you planning to do a larger free-form loaf or in a loaf pan? How much larger are you wanting?

      Thanks, Zoë

  21. Do you have any thoughts on keeping the dough outside in the winter? My fridge is small and crowded, and I wondered what temperature range would work to keep the dough going.

    1. Kal: Our dough survives at a wide range of temps, including freezing (defrost fully in the fridge before using), so you should be OK. Below 40 degrees and I think you should be fine. Hope the racoons don’t get to it though, be aware of that possibilty. Jeff

  22. I was going through AB in 5 and found the Tapenade bread recipe. I am confused about the tapenade. When do you add it to the dough?

    1. Patice: Truth is, it doesn’t much matter, so long as it’s uniformly distributed. It goes with Step 3 (“all the remaining ingredients”). Jeff

  23. Love the Sesame Semolina Bread as well as all the other recipes from the book. I’m confused about the proper flour to use for the Sesame Semolina Bread The recipe states duram flour,but your intro to the recipe talks about semolina. The product I had and used was semolina. Was this corrrect or do I need to find duram flour? What’s the difference between the two?

    1. Betty: Durum is a finely ground bakers grade of semolina flour. Stuff labeled “semolina” also works fine in that recipe. Sounds like you’re getting a good result with the product you found, so I’d stay with it. Jeff

  24. I got both of your books as Christmas gifts. I made the basic recipe from the first one, and it worked wonderfully! Then I tried the basic wheat one on p 55 of the 2nd book. I measured and timed things exactly as the book said, but the bread did not rise in the oven, as the loaf of white bread (basic recipe 1st book) did. The bread tastes good but is very dense. I’m wondering if something was wrong with my wheat flour, as I’d had it for a while on the shelf. The vital wheat gluten was brand new. Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Patsy,

      The most common issue is a dough that is too dry. If the dough does not have enough hydration it will not have the gluten development it needs to have a nice rise. You can just add in a few more tablespoons of water to the batch and see if that improved the bread. After you add the water let the dough sit for a while so the dough can absorb the additional water.

      Thanks, Zoë

  25. Hi,

    Love your book very happy about the wholewheat version as I can’t eat white bread but please please where can us folks in London buy vital wheat gluten flour. I have googled and can not find anyone to supply to the UK. If you know of where we can purchase please let us know or we won’t be able to bake any of you lovely bread in the UK.
    Look forward to hearing from you

    1. Charley: I’ve looked in Amazon UK and don’t find it. It’s sometimes labeled “vital wheat gluten flour.” Hope that helps, let us know if it doesn’t. Jeff

  26. Suggestion for keeping bread longer than a couple of days. Slice to toaster size and freeze.

    Before starting to bake my own artisan bread in 5, I used to go out of my way to buy great artisan bread and always bought extra to freeze. I slice the bread to fit my toaster and freeze it so that I can pull out one or two slices at time by putting wax paper between slices or alternately by laying slices flat in a freezer bag as if they were on a tray.
    I’ve done this with my 5 minute bread a couple of times after baking a large amount for parties and having leftovers. I find the result very satisfying after heating up a slice in the toaster.

  27. Substitute for small peel. Cut 1/3 of the rim off a 9 inch aluminum pie plate, leaving only the flat round bottom of the pan on that edge. Do it with two pans and double up for a little more rigidity. Lubricate generously with cornmeal.

    I tried this because I wanted to get two loaves of bread on the stone at one time and it’s difficult to do with my pizza sized peel which is about the same size as the stone. This way I can rest one loaf on the peel and slide to one corner of the stone and rest another loaf on the pie pan which is small enough to let me slide the second loaf into the space remaining on the stone.

    The aluminum rinses off easily and saves me the clean up of staging loaves on a pastry board and trying to transfer them to the peel.

  28. I gave the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day to my son and his wife, they live 7500 feet above sea level, and are not getting good results with the bread. Can anyone help with high altitude adjustment?

  29. Something missing in flavor.

    I’m loving the crumb and crust that I get with the recipes from ABin5. But I’m still missing a depth of flavor that I get in the bread from my favorite Brooklyn Bakery.

    The closest I’ve gotten is when I used King Arthur Bread flour for a batch of Semolina and a batch of the light Whole Wheat. I think it may have been the Malted Barley that King Arthur includes in it’s bread flour. I’ve bought some Malted Barley Flour and I’m going to try substituting a 1/4 cup for some of the white flour in those recipes.
    But I also suspect that some of what I’m missing is the highly developed yeast flavor that comes from the three rises over over 18 hours which that bakery uses in it’s hand made loaves.
    Do you think that I’d get more of that yeast flavor if I just let AB5 dough rise overnight before putting it in the fridge? Or should I perhaps increase the amount of yeast I’m using?

    1. Bruno: Don’t increase the yeast, that will have the opposite effect. Easiest way to simulate is to let the dough age longer. Try staggering batches so you always have stuff at least 3 or 4 days old.

      Or, DECREASE the yeast and let it rise really slow. But that takes more patience… Jeff

  30. I have had 2 stones break. The first one broke after putting the water in. It was a round stone that I have had for a long time. The second one was tonight and was rectangular. Is there anything I have done that has caused this or is there something I can do to prevent? I have read what you have said about williams sonoma.
    The bread has been great! WE have made the standard and the wheat sandwich bread. Awesome!

    1. Hi Desiree,

      In the past the culprit has been that the source of the steam is placed too close the stone. The pan that you throw the water in should be at least 4-5 inches away from the stone. Does that sound like it could have been the problem?

      Thanks! Zoë

  31. Thanks Jeff,

    Between your books, videos and this website you provide an incredible service and experience. I haven’t bought any cookbooks in decades but I got your first one as gift and then bought your second. I don’t know if other food authors are providing the kind of service you and Zoe do, but I can’t imagine it’s common. Your dedication is obvious.

    I was a professional cook for 17 years and experienced a broad career, catering for crowds of 10 to 20 thousand, working in high end fine dining and almost everything in between. Like many chefs I never personally did much baking. But I was always looking for better, more steamlined methods and I am more impressed with your work than anything I’ve seen for a long, long time.

    I’ve been keeping my eye out for years, hoping to learn of a method that would let me have the kind of bread I love, baked in my own home fresh – without hours a day dedicated to the process. I skipped right over bread machines, knowing I’d never be satisfied. Your books have provided that long sought solution and changed my daily life. I’m sure I’ll be enriched for years to come.

    I’m not in a rush. So, I will try less yeast longer rise. I already stage batches and rarely bake any before the 3rd day. I also start my next batch without washing out the storage container.

    I see now you’re right about more yeast because I tried that on my current batch. I got bigger gas bubbles but not really more taste even after a week in the fridge.

    By the way, even on the first batch the results were good enough that I no longer feel compelled to buy artisan bread to satisfy my needs. I even turned down the offer when dinner guests were willing to pick some up from my favorite bakery on the way over. I told them to come straight over and try this new recipe and they were amazed.

    One guest grew up in one of the very fine Italian Brooklyn bakeries of 30 years ago and thought the AB5 bread on my table had been purchased at a coal fired, hand made bakery until I spilled the beans.

    But, no reason to stop trying to improve it that next 2%. Thanks again for all your work.

    1. Hi Bruno,

      Thank you for the note. It is always encouraging and high compliment to hear from people who have worked in the industry. We appreciate that you are making the bread and look forward to hearing about your experiments with reduced yeast.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  32. Regarding cracked stones: I had one that cracked in several pieces but I just pushed them together and continued using it for years. Anything wrong with that?

  33. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I love baking your method. I am considering opening a bakery when we move to Asheville, NC, in a couple of years. I want to sell challah, and Eastern European breads. Maybe pita and naan, too.

    I was wondering if your method could be adapted to a commercial bakery, where I would bake in quantity? I know I would have to use bakers percentage to get the starting point of my recipes. I also saw an August ’09 posting to Debbie where you said that refrigerating the dough for 3 days extends the shelf life of the bread. That means having a lot of dough to refrigerate, which I am not sure is possible.

    So do you think your method would work for a bakery?

    Also, I was able to bake pita bread in my Black and Decker toaster oven. I just got a tile to fit, but haven’t tried it yet.

    Thanks so much! And I am enjoying Michelle’s baking group. I made an awesome garlic loaf with your soft whole wheat.

    Judy L, TN

    1. Judy: The problem with commercial is quality control– the fact that every loaf has to taste more or less the same. With our method, there’s maturation over the life of the batch, with richer flavor later. You could stagger batches, and use “old dough” (pate fermentee) to speed that, but it’s going to be a little more challenging. Jeff

  34. Hi Jeff and Zoe! Just a quick question, more creative than anything. I just volunteered to cater the Valentine Banquet at my church and I’m going through menu options. (I love the fact that good bread for so many is no longer a problem. 🙂 I’m thinking of serving something in bread bowls and I’m wondering . . . . would it work to do formed bread bowls out of the five minute dough? I know I can do a traditional bread bowl, but I was hoping to cut out a few steps – like cutting and hollowing – to save time. What do you think?

    1. CJC: Someone just wrote in on Amazon’s review site, that they had done exactly this. But they did hollow out loaves, can’t think of any other way to do it. Bake it on a stainless steel bowl? Not sure that would work. Jeff

  35. Oh, are you coming the the Festival of Bread in Asheville, NC, in March? Classes, authors, bakeries, techniques shared.

    I hope to learn to do 2 strand braiding.

    Judy L, TN

  36. New Question:
    I have both books. I have made the traditional dough and all wheat dough from the original book and came out great.
    I tried twice to make the whole wheat bread (half quantity) and both times came out very stiff did not rise at all and when I made a loaf it was very very dense. The only thing I changed is I put NO salt.
    Any suggestions?

    1. George: Salt has the effect of strengthening gluten. In the first book, our all whole-wheat recipe has no added gluten, which explains why you’re not loving the consistency of the no-salt version. If you’re going to try a no-salt 100% WW, best to try it with a recipe from the second book– where you add some gluten to the structure.

      There’s a chance you’re still going to find it pretty dense, but see how it goes. Jeff

  37. Sorry if this question has already been asked, but I would like to know what bread appears on the cover of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day? I want to make it this weekend, but I can’t tell which bread type it is.



  38. Hi Jeff, Thanks. Then it sounds like I need to learn to do starters? Big buckets of dough in fridge for a few days would probably take up a lot of room. Adding starter might give it a jump start, and keep flavor consistent. Judy L, TN

  39. Hi Y’all,

    How do you form the dough for baking in a loaf pan? I want to try the wheat bread, but bake it in a loaf pan. Do I grease and cornmeal the pan? What temp do I bake at?



    1. Vanessa: Use a non-stick loaf pan, but grease it anyway. No need for cornmeal assuming you started with non-stick. If unsweetened, you can bake at 450, if sweetened, 350.

      Timing: 30 minutes at 450. 55 minutes at 350. Jeff

  40. I would like t purchase your books but I am wondering if your recipes are modified for high altitude cooking. I live at 4500 ft elevation and have had many failures with bread not rising. I have tried increasing liquid & flour & decreasing yeast with no success.

  41. HELP!
    I am in the process of making 20 loaves of bread for a church lunch next Sunday. I am freezing the loaves. But I just realized that they probably won’t defrost to the crispy crust that I am used to.

    Do you have any hints for successfully freezing and defrosting baked loaves?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Andree,

      We recommend you par-bake the loaves (90% of the baking time), then cool, freeze and then bake them right before the sale to recrisp the crust. If you are making baguettes you do not need to defrost them first, but if you are making larger loaves you should defrost before baking.

      Good luck and happy baking! Zoë

  42. [Thanks for being so responsive to readers’ questions!]

    Your master recipe says to let the dough rise “until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on top)…” before finally storing it in the fridge. In my case, after a very long rise and more than quadrupling in size, I didn’t see any sign of flattening. I was very careful when measuring out the ingredients, so I’m not sure what went wrong, if anything.

    My question is: how do I decide when to stop the initial rise?

    More details:
    Since my apartment is quite cool, I was ready to let the dough rise for about 5 hours. My dough rose to almost exceed my 5-quart container with no sign of stopping any time soon. At that point, I panicked and made more room in the container by cutting off a piece for baking, and then put the rest in the fridge. That first boule turned out quite tasty (although without much oven spring).

    1. Hi Maja,

      What you did sounds perfect. The only concern about letting rise completely during the initial rise is if you are baking immediately. If you intend the refrigerate the dough before baking you can stick it in the refrigerator at any point. Just keep in mind that it takes longer to fully rise if doing it in a cold environment. In other words don’t worry it is very forgiving! 😉

      Enjoy, Zoë

  43. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    An additional question, in addition to a starter (above). Actually a problem–in the HB5 cinnamon raisin bagels. I followed the recipe exactly. I boiled the bagels 2 minutes per side, only a few at a time. I put them on a whole wheat covered towel while I made the rest of them.

    I had 2 problems. First of all, the bagels puffed up so much that several fell apart while taking them out with my slotted spoon. Secondly, many of them stuck to the flour covered towel when I tried to remove them to put them onto the baking sheet. Some of those fell apart also.

    I’ve made bagels before, from a bread machine recipe. I didn’t have these problems before. So here are my questions:
    –why not stretch the dough into a ball before rolling out, adding raisins/cinn, rolling up. I would have cut the log into pieces, roll them into balls, and stretched them. It was a lot of work stretching each ball.
    –My bread machine recipe called for boiling the bagels for only 30 seconds, and in water that has barley malt syrup or non-diastatic powder (I have both). Why boil for 4 minutes, and could I use my syrup or powder?
    –In the other recipe, I just baked the bagels on a cookie sheet. No steam or anything. I don’t understand why these need to be steamed. They came out pretty flat anyways.

    Thanks so much for your help. I baked only some of them. I froze 2 batches: One just after rising, and one after boiled/before baking. I think the Einstein’s bagels place in this town gets them partially made, so I am experimenting.

    Thanks so much,

    Judy L, TN

    1. Hi Judy,

      Was your dough fresh or refrigerated? The fresh dough may not have enough structure to hold up the boiling!

      The book has you boiling them for 2 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other. The extra minute could be the issue.

      The steam is not essential, but we prefer the crust on the bagel when it is done with steam on a baking stone.

      Hope that helps! Zoë

  44. first, thanks for being such a great resource.

    I’ve been making this type of “artisan” bread for several months now. To make a new batch, I’ve been beating the warm water into a handful of the last dough until smooth, then stirring in additional flour, etc–but no new yeast.
    This has worked well for me. On the rare occasions that the new dough doesn’t rise in the fridge overnight, I set the container in my oven which has a pilot light so it’s very warm; all is well after an hour or so.
    A co-worker — non-baker — praised the rolls I brought to a potluck until she heard that I’m using “old” dough to raise new dough. She seemed to think yeast breeds mold, which seems ridiculous at face value.

    I’ve had no mold issues. The flavor is excellent. The doughs–many variations–have all been resilient and easy to work. Are there health issues I should be aware of?

    Thanks again.

    1. Hi Jenna,

      The technique you are using is the same as cultivating a sour dough starter. Some of these starters are fed and kept alive for hundreds of years. As long as you are introducing new flour and water to the dough you are feeding the yeast and it will stay active and healthy.

      If she has ever eaten sour dough bread from a store or restaurant it is from a starter that is much, much older than your dough. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sourdough

      Enjoy! Zoë

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