Sourdough Starter in our Recipes

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Yes, you can use activated sourdough starter in our recipes.  My own sourdough starter, after I activate it from the fridge, is about half water and half flour (you can find recipes for naturally-fermented sourdough starter all over the web, and one of our future books may have a recipe of our own). I’ve found that about 1 1/2 cups of activated sourdough starter works well in our full-batch recipes, which make 4 to 5 pounds of dough.  This means that you need to decrease the water in the recipes by 3/4 cup, and the flour by 3/4 cup. At the end, you’ll probably need to adjust water and flour to create a dough that looks and feels just like what you get with our yeast-based recipes.

So, having done this, do you need to use commercial yeast in addition?  I found that I still needed some yeast in the recipe, though I could use a lower dose, which I’ve posted about before in the context of our yeast-risen recipes.    That seems like a good compromise.  I did experiment with zero-yeast versions, but I found them a bit temperamental– didn’t store terribly well so we decided not to put that in our books… yet!

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

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247 thoughts on “Sourdough Starter in our Recipes

  1. i was hoping you could help shed light on a flour question I have. In the first book, you discuss the protein content of unbleached flour and that it will give a different consistency to the dough than bleached flour. Because of cost, I have been purchasing bleached flour (25lbs for 7$!) and have noticed the difference. Is there a different measurement of flour I can use with bleached flour to get the same consistency as the other? add an extra cup or something? i would love to get the ratio right since all the dough I make has to be baked in a loaf pan because it doesn’t keep its shape very well.
    thanks for your time.
    kristie larsen

    1. Hi Kristie,

      You can keep adding flour to the dough until it resembles the dough you made with unbleached flour. I can’t give you an exact amount because not all bleached flour s have the same protein content. I would start by adding about 1/2 extra flour and see if that results in the right consistency. Add 1/4 cup at a time after that.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes! Zoë

  2. I’m enjoying experimenting with your recipes. I bought both books plus some to give as gifts! I have some experience with sourdough. I mix mine at 1:1 ratio (3/4 cup whole wheat flour to 3/4 cup water) I’ve found that when I mix the flour and water it does not double to 1 1/2 cups. 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup flour make just slightly more than 1 cup of starter. Also the longer the starter sits, the more liquid it becomes so I need to that in factor by adding a little less water or a little more flour. I use 2 tsp. yeast even though my sourdough is super good at raising bread. The challenge is in using whole wheat in my sourdough, The gluten helps. I still have not perfected the 5 minute whole wheat sourdough, but some of my trials made the best Thanksgiving stuffing ever!

    1. Hi Cyndie,

      We are excited to hear more about your experiments with the whole wheat sourdough loaves. Please keep us posted.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  3. Hi Zoe,
    I tried making the 100% Whole Wheat Bread, Plain and Simple recipe yesterday. It was disappointing! 🙁 I substituted whole grain kamut for the wheat. When I got my handful of dough, there were no “gluten strands” at all. I ended up kneading the dough, letting it rise, and then baking. It came out hard as a rock, and a little gooey looking inside, although after a while it looked OK. It was about 1 1/2″ high in the middle. I may have kneaded too much. I also did not want to use the added gluten, so I left that out and just added 1/4 C more of the kamut flour. I had read somewhere else that kamut was high in gluten and could be substituted for and treated the same as wheat in recipes for bread-making. I looked in your Index and found no mention of kamut at all. Can you give me any tips for the next loaf I try? I want to use kamut and not wheat, with no added gluten flour. Thank you! Victoria

    1. Victoria: We haven’t used kamut at all, but in I know people have advocated swapping it in for WW. But that doesn’t mean it stores well, as in our method. I am guessing, from what you’ve said, that you are going to have to use vital wheat gluten (as in our second book or at What you’re describing just isn’t working. Jeff

  4. I made whole grain artisan loaf from recipe in latest mother earth. Allowed to rise, then pulled a piece of dough off and let it rise. Baked and was delish. Put the balance of dough in frig with loose fitting lid. 2 days later pulled another piece of dough of and would not rise. Something wrong with yeast? Bowl was in the top of frig not the coldest spot. Put the balance of dough out for over 4 hours next to wood stove. Thoughts?

    1. Rebecca: When you say “would not rise,” do you mean that it didn’t appear to expand during the rest time? But rose nicely in the oven? Did you bake it? Our method depends more on oven spring for it’s rise than traditional methods. Often, in the situation you describe, it’s spreading sideways (but expanding nonetheless). Need to hear a little more… Jeff

    1. Hi Vicky,

      The dough is going to rise and sometimes that will result in the loaf splitting open. The only thing you can do is to slash it open at the top so that it opens in a more controlled way. I would just put a 3-inch slash that is about 1/4-inch deep along the center of the top just before you put it in the oven.

      Hope that helps! Zoë

  5. Hi, Would love to learn about starters. Any suggestions on how to create a rye starter and use it in your rye breads?

    Also, the HB5 pistachio twist was awesome! But the filling oozed out. I did flip flop the amounts of AP and WW flours. If I use 5cups WW and 3cups WW next time, will the dough be firmer so that the filling won’t break thru?

    I went to a party at a Persian home, and they loved it. I found some rosewater in Knoxville, over an hour away, but can’t find orange water–yet.

    The pistachio twist is a keeper!

    Thanks, Judy L, TN

    1. Hi Judy,

      You might look into Nancy Silverton’s book on breads made with natural starters.

      You mention using 5 c WW and 3 cups WW, but I think you meant one of them to be AP? Let me know what the proper ratio is and I can try to help you out. You may try not rolling the dough quite so thin next time and that might help to keep the filling from coming through.

      Thanks! Zoë

  6. Hi Zoe, Thanks for catching my error. The bulk of the recipe was AP, so I used 5 AP and 3 whole wheat. Just the opposite proportion of your recipe.

    And I did roll it pretty thin.

    Congrats on your article and pictures in Mother Earth News! I was in Earthfare today (a Whole Foods copycat chain) and saw the issue! 🙂

    I can’t wait to start the baking group schedule on Google. It will get me to try some new things, like crackers.

    Judy L, TN

  7. PS, Zoe–why are people doing starters with this type of baking, anyways. I thought the whole idea would be to get the starter-type taste as the dough ages.


    1. Hi Judy,

      I think people are just getting to a point that they are experimenting with the doughs. It is really a thrill to have people come to baking with so much intimidation and then find them wanting to play with starters just a few months later. Bread baking is fun! 🙂

      Enjoy! Zoë

  8. Hi Zoe, I did a search on Nancy Silverton’s books. I need some clues, she has written so many! Is it the one on breads from the La Brea bakery? (PS, I can’t believe I used to eat her breads in LA, it was so close).

    Also, do you have any clues what happened to my dough with the pistachio bread? This info will help me learn. I am not confident enough to experiment with this new dough.

    Thanks, Judy

    Thanks, and (I can’t contain myself) Mazel Tov on your third book coming out!

    1. Hi Judy,

      Yes, it is her La Brea Book that I was referring to.

      Forgive me Judy, but I can’t recall exactly what your issue was? I think it was that your filling was spilling out? I would roll the dough a bit thicker, make sure that you don’t spread the filling all the way to the edge, so you can get a clean seal on the crimped edge and don’t force the dough as you are stretching it. You may just have to let it sit for a minute to relax as you are trying to stretch it into the log.

      I hope that makes sense and is helpful.

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. In your video on this site, you stress the importance of vital wheat gluten. However, in your first book, you do not mention it. Is the vital wheat gluten only necessary if you are going to store the dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks?

    Also, the baking stones I have looked at online (including Williams-Sonoma) seem to all have some bad reviews … impossible to clean, cracking, staining, etc. Is there a stone you would recommend?

    1. Margo: VWG really helps high-whole grain breads, especially if you’re storing them. If you don’t intend to store, you could skip but you will need to decrease the water, maybe by 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Maintain the same moisture level and consistency as you saw in the video: wet, but still holds a shape.

      All the stones are ugly-looking and stained once you use them a lot; they can’t really be cleaned; rather, you just scrape them with a dough scraper. I don’t consider that to be a problem, but cracking is. The thin ones (1/4-inch) tend to crack, but the 1/2-inch thick ones don’t crack, in my experience. Check the warrantee. Jeff

  10. Judy L. from TN wondered why the fuss over starters. It is true you can create your own starter from wild yeast and other bacteria that are typical for your location. Different starters from different locations therefore create very different sourdoughs! Many people would recognize a SanFrancisco style sourdough, but would anyone recognize a sourdough made from a starter that possibly descended from one of human’s first breads?! It creates a wonderful buttermilk flavor without the buttermilk. A South African strain works the best with whole wheat, but it is intensely sour. I have a great link to sourdough starters, but not without permission to post it.
    To incorporate the 5 minute technique to my stock sourdough cultures is my next challenge. Thank you, Zoe and Jeff, for sharing a wonderful technique — I think I now make breads that are “better than Grandma’s.”

  11. imagine a library where the books are thrown all over the place and you’re trying to find one – that’s what your web site reminds me of – chaos. I posted a couple questions a few weeks ago, now I can’t find them There is no order to this thing. All this twitter and glitter – can’t you just have an organized web site? As it stands, I’ll probably never find this page again. I dont have the time or the patience to read thru this entire thing. I hope something good comes of this.

    1. Hi Jim,

      Jeff and I try to answer 100s of questions a week from readers and we are really sorry if you did not find your response. We hope this site is a resource for our readers and work very hard to give out as much information as possible.

      We have been working on a discussion forum that we hope will add to the ease of use.


  12. Hello, just another question on starters: you say that you use about 1 1/2 cups in your recipe. What hydration is it at, and do you know how much starter you put in by weight? Do you find that the dough gets over-sour with all that time in the fridge? Any breaking down of the gluten at all?
    Ha, that’s a lot of questions…Thanks!

    1. Hi Soleilnyc,

      Oh now you’ve asked one I have to spend some time thinking about. 😉 Not sure of the hydration of my starter and I’ve never weighed it. Not very scientific when it comes to that one. I’ll pay attention next time. Jeff may have a more satisfying answer for you?

      You will have to gauge how sour you like your dough. I like mine up to about day 10, but I know Jeff has been known to let his go for weeks. That is more of a personal taste issue. The gluten does start to break down eventually as the dough sits, especially if you have not used it in a while. The act of dusting the top of the dough with flour to reach in and grab a piece seems to prevent this from happening so quickly.

      Thanks for the great questions! Sorry if my answers are not as good! 😉 Zoë

  13. SoleilNYC: My starter is half water and half flour by volume, but since water is so much more dense than flour, this calculates to a hydration of 160% for unbleached all-purpose (where we’re defining hydration as the ratio of water weight to flour weight expressed as a percentage). That’s what it calculates as… when I use starter/sourdough in my bread. I usually don’t, and because of the complexity, Zoe and I decided to leave it out of our books. Speaking of complexity— what the 160% stuff is ACTIVATED starter, not the “dried out” stuff you store in the fridge in most sourdough methods. I’m talking about the stuff you’ve taken out and replenished, then watered down a bit. It’s ends up being about half water and half flour by volume. You have to adjust if the final dough consistency isn’t where you want it.

    What we have in our method is not really a starter– it’s finished dough, at high hydration (75% for the white-flour Master recipe), which you store over 14 days. It gradually acquires sourdough characteristics without losing its ability to rise, despite the lack of replenishment (feeding). That feeding step is the drawback of traditional sourdough techniques.

  14. Thanks Jeff Good to know, I’ll adjust accordingly!

    I tried to make a batch of WW today with starter that hadn’t been fed in about a month. I fed and waited a couple of hours but it hadn’t doubled, so I figured I’d just pour some in for flavor: about 200g. Then I said, well, my starter must be hibernating because it hasn’t been fed, so let me put some yeast in. So I did, about 5g.

    What I have now is some extra-terrestrial blob that is threatening to take over my kitchen!! AAAAAAAHHH!!!
    So I guess that’s all to say that your word “temperamental” is an understatement. 🙂

  15. Seen your book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day advertised on my United States Concealed Carry web site of all places, purchased on and have been having a ball baking bread.
    Question, What type of stone would I purchase from Menards or Lowes to use on my outdoor grill?
    I don’t want to use my good one outdoors.

    1. Michael: Problem is that cheaper ones are thinner and tend to crack. I’m not familiar with the products they have at Menards or Lowes. Basically, the quarter-inch thick ones are inexpensive, the half-inch thick ones are more, but last longer. Jeff

  16. are you sure the water quantity is correct in the Cracked Wheat Bread recipe (4 and 1/4 cups to 7 cups dry ingredients)? The bread comes out VERY wet and loaves are very flat. Still tastes good, though….

    1. Hi Lindsay,

      Because of all the whole wheat, the addition of vital wheat gluten and the cracked wheat all that water gets absorbed. Be sure to use the scoop and sweep method of measuring or you will end up with too little flour.

      The dough will be quite soft and difficult to work with if it has not been refrigerated. It will also spread.

      Let me know if any of that sounds like the issue. Thanks, Zoë

  17. I finally got a backing stone the other day and went to try it out. The problem is that I can’t get my bread off the pizza peel without making it go from a nice loaf to a stretched out almost-flatbread. I’ve got enough cornmeal on the thng to probably make a loaf of cornbread in and of itself, but it still won’t come off. Then when I take the stone out of the oven the bread was stuck to it in bits.


    1. Don’t know which recipe you’re using, but either it’s too wet, or this is a matter of technique. To make it easier on yourself, why don’t you just use parchment paper instead of cornmeal while you’re learning the method? It never misses. Try a product like

  18. Hi, Just returned from a vacation (cannot complain!) and realized that a batch of formerly mixed 10 grain bread that I made well before we left has been sitting in our fridge for about 4-5 weeks. It is plenty moist, has a very sour smell (not a bad sour. Just sour. No dark colors on top, just a very few small pools about a dropperful or so in size scatttered around of a milky looking substance). I realize I have two options: say goodbye to the whole batch or use it as a starter for a new fresh batch. 1) is it safe to do the second option as described on page 34 and 39 in your book if this much time has elapsed since I made the original batch (how do I tell if it has been ‘too long’?)
    2) I have tried this before where I had a cup or so of a prior batch, added the water for the next batch and used the immersion blender to get everything smooth before proceeding with the rest of the ingredients. How much from THIS old batch is recommended? (1 cup, 2 cups? Is there a maximum?)

    Thanks! Susan

  19. I had a similar experience as Lindsay with the cracked wheat recipe. There was literally standing liquid in the bottom of the containerl. I made the whole grain master recipe with fantastic results though. I will try the cracked wheat again. Should I just decrease the water some? I am using freshly milled flour.

    1. Patty: Freshly milled flour can throw off the water requirement, all depending on the flour and how it was ground. Sure, just try decreasing the water some. Jeff

    1. Hi Dorothy,

      The time saving element of our method is based on making a large batch of dough and using it over a 2 week period. I suppose you could cut the recipe by 1/4 and try it, although we have not tested this method. If you do please let us know how it goes.

      Thanks, Zoë

  20. Hi Jeff and Zoe–
    am still interested in knowing if you can incorporate “old” batches into a new batch–see my posting of Feb 9, 2010 @ 9:10am–not yet responded to. If you are not sure, please just let me know–I will be tossing the batch this weekend if I don’t hear anything one way or the other. thanks again. Susan

  21. I just bought the book and am in first stage of the Master recipe. I was using a locally milled Whole White (Speerville, New Brunswick, Canada).

    I put in the yeast and salt and 6 cups water and then 10.75 cups of the Speerville before running out (!). But at that point it was already way too hard to mix around. I found some old supermarket wholewheat and added that in. Almost broke the wooden spoon. Ended up adding 2.5 cups of water to be able to stir it in.

    THEN noticed the instruction to use your hands if it’s hard to blend.

    So I suspect that
    a) Whole White requires less flour/more water but your book only gives guidelines for one type of flour it seems, at least with Master Recipe, and I just don’t happen to have that flour
    b) I don’t understand your statement above:
    “it’s finished dough, at high hydration (75% for the white-flour Master recipe)”

    How can dough that has 6 cups water to 13 cups flour end up with 75% hydration? Isn’t that closer to 45%?

    In any case, the original recipe was by far the driest flour I have ever mixed and indeed even after 15 minutes I was simply unable to mix that little water with that much flour. I should have used my hands, yes, but also it is extremely dry mix using Whole White and even with hands I would have had a very hard time to get all the flour moist.

    1. Hi Ash,

      Which book are you using ABin5 or HBin5? I suspect it is ABin5, in which case the issue is that you are using White Whole Wheat in a recipe that calls for unbleached all-purpose flour? Whole wheat flour requires much more water and can not be substituted for unbleached all-purpose. It is also much easier to mix a single batch of dough, instead of the doubled one that you were trying to mix.

      Using bakers percentages the hydration of our dough does work out to be about 75% when you use unbleached all-purpose.

      Here is our Master recipe from our second book using whole grain flour:

      Thanks, Zoë

  22. I have been experimenting with a SD starter and I LOVE it. I’ve used up to 3 cups of starter in a full batch. It was so sour and yummy. Unfortunately, I don’t usually get 3 cups of starter in the container I use so I have to plan better…I only had 1.5 this last time. 🙁 Someone asked why bother? I adore the sour taste of sourdough bread. But I like the easy of 5 minutes a day. The two combined get me my sourdough bread! And it’s still 5 minutes a day because the starter takes only a couple minutes each day as well to build up.

  23. I found your page with hydration measurements including this link: and have guestimated (since I don’t have any more of the Whole White to scale, that I have 89% hydration. This because I have learned (relearned!) that hydration is calculated based on weight not volume.
    So will add some more flour to bring it down to 83% hydration since I have a denser flour than the recommend Master recipe. Next town trip: simple All-Purpose!

  24. I’m visiting friends on a narrowboat soon, and want to bake bread for them. Won’t have a baking stone, and no room in fridge. Could I mix a small batch with very little yeast and leave it on the counter overnight to bake in the morning? I’d make small squares for breakfast bread. Would a regular cookie sheet work to bake them on?

    1. Jeneene: That will probably work, great idea. You won’t get a great crust on a cookie sheet but it will work (need to grease it). Try to get the loaf off the sheet 2/3’s of the way through baking and just finish on the oven rack to crisp up that crust. Jeff

  25. I use the King Arthur sourdough starter, and despite their instruction that you need to take it out and feed it 12 hours before using it. I found that unnecessary. My method to make SF style sourdough is to add a cup or more (the half you’re discarding to feed your stored starter) to your dough bucket along with the water from the recipe. Mix this well (or whisk it to make sure to break up the clumps). Then mix up the rest of the master recipe into the bucket, cutting the yeast back only slightly if at all. This dough works great – maybe even better than the master recipe itself. I expect it would get progressively more sour the longer it stores, I have always baked it within about 5 days. Great and easy variation on the trusted master recipe.

  26. I love your Healthy Bread in 5 minutes book. So far, I’ve tried about 6 recipes and all turned out great. I’ve decided to adapt my favorite peasant sourdough bread recipe based on your method. It took two tries, but I have to report that I’ve never tasted anything this good (for sourdough that is). No yeast was added, just the 50:50 sourdough starter (rye flour to water and Russian starter from Sourdough International) and your Dilled rye with white whole wheat for the basis. Thank you so much for the great book and this blog!

    1. Hi Valentina,

      I’m thrilled that you are experimenting with the dough and creating your own breads!

      Happy baking! Zoë

  27. I prepared the dough for the European Peasant Bread about three days ago and today made the first loaf. When I cut off the 1-pound piece, I noticed that the dough was a bit dry. I am very careful when measuring the flour using the scoop and sweep method. I read you can add more water to the dough and will try that. Also, the lid that came with the container I bought does not fit the container and is actually larger than the container so that it’s just sitting on top. Could this have any effect on the dough? Overall. I am thrilled with both books. Can’t wait to try the whole grain brioche!

    1. Hi Lucia,

      What kind of all-purpose flour are you using? Some are higher in protein and will require you to add a bit more water to the mix.

      Is there a dry “skin” on the top of your dough in the bucket? If so, then your dough may be getting too much air circulating in the bucket. If not, then the lid sitting on top is probably just fine.

      Thanks, Zoë

  28. Thanks, Zoe. I found an all-purpose flour with whole wheat added to it. It says you can use it as you would regular all-purpose. I guess I need to add more water to the dough.

    I don’t notice a dry “skin” on top of the dough. Can I add more water to the prepared dough?

    1. Lucia: Despite the claims of those products that the flour can be swapped for AP, it’s just not true. The result is a drier dough, with a different result than what we describe in our books. You need to add more liquid ingredients so tha the consistency is like what you see in our videos, a very soft and damp dough.

      It’s tough to get water into the dough once mixed, but I’ve done it. Easiest with relatively fresh dough, and add a little flour too, so you get a secondary rise– mixing will knock all the gas out of the dough. Jeff

  29. I just made the Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread for my husband. The taste was great but it’s crumbly when he slices it for a sandwich. Anything I can do to my next batch of dough to prevent this? Thank you!

    1. Hi Lucia,

      It sounds like your dough may benefit from a little more water. If that alone doesn’t seem to help, you can also increase the vital wheat gluten by a couple of tablespoons and increase the water as well. This will create a bit more structure to the bread.

      Thanks, Zoë

  30. Thank you Zoe! VWG was not available in the grocery stores, so I went to the health food store and asked for it. The product, NOW Gluten Flour was what she handed me. I asked if this is VWG and she said yes, so I bought it. I have a feeling I used the wrong ingredient when I used this gluten flour. Could this be my problem? I think I need to be more careful when buying ingredients!

    1. Hi Lucia,

      Yes, Vital wheat gluten and gluten flour are the same. Did you sift the flour before or after you measured it out? If you sifted it after than it will not effect the recipe, but is an unnecessary step. I think that adding a bit more gluten and water will result in the bread you desire.

      Thanks, Zoë

  31. It’s me again! I just researched VWG, and supposedly, gluten flour and VWG is the same thing. I was just re-reading the recipe and I noticed my mistake. The recipe calls for “whisking” the dry ingredients. Zoe, I sifted the dry ingredients. Don’t ask me why!! Could this have been the problem? I hope so. I loved the taste of the bread. Thank you so much for your help. I’m going now and teach myself to read! LOL!

  32. Thanks Jeff and Zoe. I just baked the Soft Sandwich Loaf for my husband and it came out perfect! I was wondering, have you ever worked with sprouted wheat? I eat the Ezekiel bread, made with sprouted grain, because anything with wheat or too much starch upsets my stomach. I made and love the whole wheat Brioche, but when I eat it, it does a number of my stomach. Am next going to try the gluten free olive bread and see how that works but my next experiment will be to use sprouted grain flour using your method. Maybe in your next book you can explore this. I have both of your books and they are both wonderful.

    1. Hi Lucia,

      Please let us know how your experiments with the sprouted wheat goes. There has been lots of talk about using them and we are anxious to know how it works. Perhaps we will have time sometime to dedicate to doing experiments ourselves, sounds like they would be quite tasty.

      One of my favorite G-F breads is made with the crusty boule dough, but I substitute olive oil.

      Thanks, Zoë

  33. I keep meeting more and more people who have problems with wheat. I will be gone for two weeks, but will start my experiment with sprouted wheat when I get back. Will let you know how it all works out.


  34. I have a starter I started
    over three years ago.
    It’s quite wet
    and I really want to use it
    without any additional commercial yeast
    when I try the breads in your book
    Rose Levy Bernanbaum in her Bread Bible book has the info
    for converting a recipe so you can use sourdough starter in place of yeast

    she says for liquid starter use the proportions of 50% water and 50% flour
    to determine reductions in both in the recipe

    1. Suzanne: In my experiments, I found the tricky part was to be able to store the dough for at least five days after mixing, otherwise you really don’t get the time advantage. I found that the dough was temperamental if I added zero commercial yeast, so Rose’s method may not be great with our approach.

      But it does work, the pitfall is density— worth giving it a shot though. Jeff

  35. Suzanne: You don’t have to store the dough, but that’s the way our method gets its time advantage. You make enough dough for 4 to 8 loaves, then refrigerate after an initial rise. So you only mix once, and get a week or two of bread. Jeff

  36. Ooops, I misunderstood!
    I know the dough gets stored
    one of my problems will be
    storing both the dough and my already large container of starter. . .
    the starter is marvelous
    I have completely neglected it for montsh
    at a time and when I take it out, pour off the hooch
    (depending on its taste)
    and start re-feeding s
    it bubbles right up

    makes the world’s greatest brownies
    as well as great bread

  37. Help! I have been asked to make 25 DOZEN bite-size rolls for this Friday, May 28. They do not want any WW so I thought the Challah recipe from your first book would work. Any suggestions for how I can accomplish this? PLEASE answer ASAP! Thank you so much.
    Bette Pollock

    1. Hi Bette,

      If you do not have access to a professional kitchen with lots of ovens, I would start baking now and freeze them. You can bake them, cool them completely, then freeze, wrapping very very well. On the day of the event, defrost them for 30 minutes and pop in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes to warm and serve.

      Hope that is helpful! Have fun baking! Zoë

  38. Hi Zoë and Jeff-
    First, I have both of your books and am very happy making bread with your method (I make mostly whole wheat/spelt/multigrain bread).
    I have been reading Nourishing Traditions and the whole debate about soaking/fermenting/sprouting grains to neutralize the phytic adic.

    What are your thoughts on phytic acid?
    Can you speak to if/how your wonderful bread method might work with soaking or fermenting? I understand that I could start with sour dough starter to get the fermenting… but I wonder if your bread could be considered soaked (except I guess salt gets in the way of neutralizing phytic acid…)
    Thank you so much!

    1. Linnea: I’m not convinced by the science on phytic acid— I just can’t say whether or not this is a health issue. My impression is that this isn’t a problem for the majority of people in Western societies who aren’t generally vitamin deficient. Plus I’m not convinced that most people eat enough bread for this to make a difference.

      But that said, it seems to me that our long-term dough storage is similar to the soaking process advocated by some. If you always want to use the longer-stored stuff, just stagger your batches so you’re never using a freshly-mixed one. The flavor will be superior, which is what would motivate me!

      Also can’t say one way or another whether or not salt would prevent any of the activity you’re talking about. Jeff

  39. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I ordered sprouted grain flour and made the soft whole wheat sandwish bread with it. Here are the ingredients: 71/2 C sprouted grain flour; 2 packets yeast; 1/2 TBS salt; 3 C warm water; 1/8 C honey; 8 large eggs; 1 stick butter, melted. I did not add the vital wheat gluten. I let it rest and baked it following your instructions. The taste was good but the loaf was very dense and did not rise like a regular loaf.
    I had to order the flour and since flour is heavy the shipping cost was quite high. With shipping, the cost for two pounds came to $25. I got 3 loaves. Needless to say, this is too much for me. If I could obtain the flour locally I would continue with my experiments, but for now, I will continue baking with regular whole wheat.
    I hope you do experiment with this flour. Maybe if more people ask for it, it will become more readily available.
    Thank you.

    1. Lucia: Sounds like a mixed bag– expensive, and you weren’t crazy about the texture (dense). We’ll keep our eyes open about this flour as others gain experience with it.

      But about your recipe– for our method to work with this much whole grain flour, you need to use vital wheat gluten. Also, that’s a lot of egg! More like a brioche, and I have a feeling that’s part of why it was so dense, in combo with all that WW flour and no VWG. Also, cut the fat and see if that helps. You might also increase the salt a bit (assuming that was coarse salt); could go to 1 T.

  40. Hi
    Just wondered if you could advise if the stored Dough has the same Health Benefits as a Sourdough bread ?
    There is a lot of talk at the moment that Sourdough Bread is much better for Diabetics so wondered if it has the same effect.
    Really Love the book and have fantastic results. Thanks Tina

    1. Tina: First off, I’m skeptical about these latest health claims– we really don’t yet have the evidence to back up a strong statement. Having said that… our stored dough begins to accumulate the same by-products of fermentation that you get in sourdough. If that’s the source of the supposed health benefits, then it might be true of our doughs as well. Just can’t say for sure.

      I like longer-stored doughs because of the flavor– if there’s a benefit, I’m all for it!

  41. Hi Jeff and Zoe,
    Well, I’ve given up on the experiment with sprouted flour and will leave it to someone else to figure it out. I just baked a whole wheat challah and the taste is wonderful and so is the crust, but I’m not getting much rise. I live in FLorida where it is hot and humid. Could that have anything to do with it? I’d appreciate your input. Thanks.

    1. Hi Lucia,

      If your kitchen is very warm you may want to reduce the resting time once the loaf is formed. It is possible that your dough is overproofing (which means the yeast has done all it can do during the resting and has no more rising power once it gets to the oven, this results in no oven spring or rise).

      Does the dough seem to be spreading more than usual when it is resting? if so you can try reducing the rising time, or keeping it in a cooler part of the house to rest during the hot summer months.

      If this doesn’t sound like the issue you can also search through the FAQ:

      Thanks! Zoe

  42. As an aside, I’ve used *both* master recipes (ABin5 and HBin5) with about 1/2 or 1/4 of a batch of “old dough” as a starter and added no yeast. I incorporated it the same way the sourdough kick baguettes post did, and then just added the rest of the ingredients by weight (i.e. 3/4 or 1/2 a batch). The dough has a wonderful sourdough flavor, and there’s no need to use yeast, just keep recycling a (loaf-size) portion of the previous batch! I’m still experimenting with it, but it seems that the yeast from the first batch keeps alive and there’s no knead to add anymore! (pun intended)
    I can’t comment on the “springiness” of this technique compared with adding yeast every batch since I’ve just done a few, but all my breads seem to come out just fine.

    1. Samuel: I haven’t tried this but would imagine it would give similar results as sourdough, more or less. My only complaint is that the longevity of dough made this way in the fridge isn’t as good as the stuff with fresh yeast (or at least a little). Others who’ve tried it have found that it can be temperamental– a little too dense (and unpredictably so) for some.

      But keep playing with it. And take a look at, to consider a middle-ground approach. Jeff

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