My shaped loaves don’t seem to rise much before it’s time for the oven. What am I doing wrong?

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In our method, proportionally more of the rise comes from “oven spring,” rather than “proofing.”  Traditional bread methods get more proofing rise than we do.  Proofing is the time that the shaped loaf spends just sitting and waiting for the oven.  Oven spring is the sudden expansion of gasses within the pores of the loaf that occurs upon contact with the hot oven air and the stone or other hot surface that you might be using.

Don’t be surprised if you don’t see a whole lot of rise during proofing with our method. You’ll still get a nice rise during the oven spring, so long as you didn’t over-work the dough while shaping.  Make sure your oven’s up to temperature by checking with a thermometer like this one on Amazon.  If the oven is too cool or too hot, you won’t get proper oven spring.

If you’re still not happy with the final result– if it seems to dense and under-risen, check our our “Dense Crumb” FAQ.

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

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325 thoughts on “My shaped loaves don’t seem to rise much before it’s time for the oven. What am I doing wrong?

  1. Yes, great oven spring, not much rise before baking. But…the bread virtually exploded at the slashes, resulting in a loaf that really did not look much like a boule at all, but a big blob.

    1. Hi Nick,

      This is caused by 2 possible issues. The dough didn’t rest long enough before baking. It should no longer feep cold nor dense. It will never feel warm, not even room temperature, but it shouldn’t feel as cold as it does when it first comes from the bucket.

      The second and more common cause is that the slashes are not cut deep enough. if you do not cut at least 1/4-inch deep they will crack open any old way they can and the dough will shoot forth!

      Hope that helps. Enjoy! Zoë

  2. I am loving both books and enjoying the many kinds of bread with which I am experimenting. I do, however, have one consistent issue with my dough, no matter which bread I make. When I pull out a piece of dough prior to shaping and baking, my dough is never “stretchy” as shown in your videos. I have no need to cut it with scissors or knife. Instead, it just pulls off in a chunk. I’m not sure this is the right place to ask this question, but I’m hoping for a solution. Hey, even with my chunky dough, the bread is great and I’ll never stop baking. Thanks for the books!

    1. Sheryl: Hmm. Makes me think you’re using different flour than we are– let’s get to the bottom of it. What brand of flour are you using, which recipes, and where are you located? Jeff

  3. I have used a variety of flours and it happens every time. My current batch was a combination of Hodgson Mill whole wheat and Gold Medal unbleached. I live in northern Indiana and I do keep my house at about 66 degrees during the winter, but it was the same in the summer also. The end product is still good, but if I can improve, I’m up for trying anything. Thanks! Sheryl

    1. Sheryl: When you say the end product is still good, I assume you mean that it isn’t overly dense; that oven spring made up for less than expected proofing rise. Or does it?

      Are you doing a 90 min rest for whole grains? If you’re talking about white flour breads, you can increase to 60 or even 90 minutes. Check the FAQs page for “Dense Breads” and see if anything there can help. Jeff

  4. Ok, having watched some video and looked at some pictures, I guess my bread is overly dense. I just meant that it still tastes good! I’m thinking maybe next time I will add more water. Do you think that’s worth a try? I will be sure to let the dough rest for 90 minutes. I’ll let you know what happens. Thanks!

  5. I am having similar results as Sheryl. I don’t have the stretchy dough as in the videos, however, I think it’s plenty wet/sticky, so adding more water doesn’t seem logical. And I’ve made sure to very gently handle the dough for only about 10 seconds, so as not to compress gas bubbles. The dough just spreads out more or less flat during the 90 or even 90 + minutes before baking, and does not ‘explode’ in the oven. I live in mid Michigan and also keep the house about 65 to 67 in the winter. I thought that may be at issue, but Sheryl got the same results in summer. I was thinking maybe I should pull out my scale and weigh the ingredients? I made the quacamole/avocado bread today (after 18 hours in the frig). Since it turned out so flat, I’m going to cut it into dipping pieces and take it into work with a fresh salsa to share with my co-workers. Still tastes good, just flat.

  6. Mary Anne: Weighing is always worth a try, assuming you are definitely using unbleached flour.

    The avocado/guacamole isn’t a great one to compare here; it does tend to spread out. What kind of results are you getting with our plainer breads.? Jeff

  7. Yes I am using unbleached flour. Hodgson unbleached all purpose, whole wheat graham, and Bob’s Red Mill vital wheat gluten.

    I just got the book and a baking stone recently. The only other one I’ve made so far is the buckwheat. It came out flat as well. (Hodgson’s buckwheat flour). If there’s a recipe in the second book that is more ‘fool proof’, let me know and I’ll try that and see what happens.

    I’m wondering if there is a connection with the dough not becoming stretchy and elastic, to it not rising, and not rising in the oven. What are the usual causes for dough to not become elastic?

    By the way, my co-workers said the bread and salsa was delicious, and thought it was supposed to be dense and flat.

  8. Watched the video again, and in case it’s another clue… your dough doesn’t stick to your hands, mine does (yes I use flour as directed)?

  9. Mary Anne: Maybe you should just increase the flour a bit. And maybe experiment with the simpler recipes first, like the Master Recipe from the second book (chapter five).

    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. Jeff

  10. I was not ready to do another batch, however, someone on our workteam is leaving this week. She liked the bread I brought into work enough she wants me to try again. She is of indian desent and brought me hot peppers to put into the dough. I looked at alot of your advice and have come up with the following:
    number one, I weighed the flours (and everything else since I have a digital scale). Since I do keep my house cooler and I saw you suggested using a loaf pan to deter the spread of dough.
    The other thing I’m going to try is, after the first counter rise, but before it colappses – I’m going to divide the dough into 4. 2 into loaf pans to the frig, and baked via frig method, 2 into small bowls to be turned out, to be raised and baked as usual. Iwill let you know how it turns out.

  11. I made the Master Recipe.

    From the tips I gathered from your site, I weighed the ingredients, however, as you say it’s not needed, but I think at least fluffing up the flour with a fork would help with it being so compacted in the bag for the scoop and sweep method.

    I mixed my ingredients in a much smaller bowl to decrease the headroom, or airspace.

    After the initial rise, I divided in 4 and put 2 in small bowls, and 2 in loaf pans to lessen the chance of overworking the dough, lightly covered with plastic.

    On baking day, the 2 round pieces taken from the frig to rise on parchment, increased in volum,e mostly out, not up, but according to your site, that’s expected.

    I gave the baking stone an extra 25 minutes of warm up time after the oven hit 450 (I use an oven thermometer), in case the stone hadn’t been hot enough to promote oven spring before.

    Results were the same – a rather flat bread, however, the dough was more elastic this time and the finished bread had better (though still small) holes.

    One of the loaf pans went from cold frig to 475, not much of a rise, but by the act of containment to a pan, kept it from spreading, so it looked more like a ‘mini’ loaf. The only drawback was the hotter temp nearly burnt the top black, so a loose foil tent partway through would probably have helped.

    The second loaf pan was allowed to rise at room temp for 2 hours before baking at 450 (and a loose foil tent added part way this time) – results about the same as the other loaf pan.

    Taste was very good and my coworkers thought the bread delicious. I used some of the chili peppers my coworker brought in to use and a couple compatible herbs from my cupboard, and took some softened lite cream cheese to spread.

    I’ve tried to be somewhat detailed in case you might spot something I’m not ‘getting’. Even though I’m not the lone ranger in my results, there are many people reporting success, so I must be missing some element. Would a cooler home indicate more vital gluten?

    I find it amazing what I’m learning on the way to making my own bread, and appreciate any ideas or pointers you might have to try.

    Thank you so much for your passion to bring ‘everyday bread’ to us ‘common folk’.

    Mary Anne

    1. Mary Anne: Any chance you’re using bleached flour, rather than unbleached (not enough protein in that). I wouldn’t manipulate the VWG; we use a fairly good dose. I assume you’re doing the Master recipe from the 2nd book (Healthy Bread in… ).

      Sounds like your measurement isn’t the explanation, since weighing didn’t help. Though I should say that we DON’T fluff with a fork, and if you do, you’ll likely under-measure your cupfuls and the dough will be too wet, leading to sideways spreading. But you say it persisted despite using the weights we specify in that Master. Hmm.

      Also, you say your measuring temp, but that loaves are burning and needing a foil tent. I wonder if you shoudn’t bake closer to the bottom of the oven. Or if your thermometer could be off (unlikely).

      Assume you’re doing a 90 minute rest for that particular recipe, and going for a one-pound loaf (grapefruit-sized piece of dough). Larger ones are more temperamental in our method. Jeff

  12. Well, I seem to be having the same results as Mary Anne. This is my third batch of dough. My first was your HBin5 master recipe, using the 365 (Whole Foods) brand of whole wheat and unbleached flours. I got some oven spring on my loaves, decreasing with the age of the dough, but not as much as in your video. I was not feeling particularly adept at shaping those loaves, but I certainly kept handling to a minimum and thought practice would make me better.

    Next I tried 100% whole wheat with flax, using all grain that I ground myself in my VitaMix. That dough rose much higher in the initial rise than my first batch, but although wet, it was not stringy and gooey at all. It broke apart when I pulled it out to shape, did not get much oven spring after 24 hrs of refrigeration, and after a few days it was only good for flat bread (great msemmen, though!).

    This time I went back to the master recipe, but used about 2 cups of my own home ground wheat, made the remainder of 365 brand ww, and the specified amount of unbleached. (I did weigh my flour just to compare. My scale is not digital, but both my own grind and the 365ww came out to about 6+ oz. per cup — although I may not always grind the same, so I don’t really know the density of my previous batch.)

    This time my dough is very wet (sticks to my hands), but I remember the first batch being quite wet, too. Shaped approx. a 1-lb. loaf, or a little smaller, and another one that turned out to be bigger. Let the 1-lb. loaf rest for 90-120 minutes (can’t remember when I preheated the stone), and the larger loaf for another 35 minutes while the smaller one baked. Turned around and baked it immediately after the 1st came out.

    Both loaves spread quite a lot sideways during resting, until they were only about 1.5 inches thick. The smaller loaf had very little oven spring. Crust and seed topping are pretty, but I haven’t decided if I’m going to give it away to a friend as planned, b/c I’m a little embarrassed that it is so flat (about 2.5 inches in middle). The larger loaf had almost no spring at all. It barely even widened the slashes I had made on top. I was making it to slice for sandwiches tonight, but I don’t think that’s going to be happening!

    Now, the conclusion that I’m coming to is that my home ground flour is a real wild card. But given that I was also not thrilled with the success I saw on my first round, I am still wondering about my ratios.

    Could my dough be too wet? If so, should I decrease water, or add flour? When I go to pull some out and cut it off, it is very squishy, and I have to scoop my hand pretty deep in there to get a good-sized chunk — if I just try to grab from the top and squeeze, like you seem to on your video, it seems to squish a lot of air out of it and try to pull away from the rest without bringing much more dough along with it. Also, I don’t know if Zoe has small hands, but my 1-lb loaves (as weighed on my non-digital scale) seem much smaller (and squishier) than the one she shapes in the HBin5 video.

    Could a longer resting time actually decrease the chance of oven spring, rather than increase it?

    Because the stone is in there, it takes my oven a good half hour to give me the “beep” that tells me that it is preheated. Should I continue to preheat the stone for longer? I have a digital thermometer, but apparently it maxes out somewhere before it reaches 450 degrees, so I don’t really know how hot the oven is.

    Thanks so much for your prompt answers to posts. Without your support, I might come to the conclusion that I’m just not very good at this, and it isn’t worth all the trouble-shooting.

    1. Hi Kit,

      I think you will find the right ratio, but working with a flour that is ground fresh will prove unpredictable. Because the whole grain flours have less ability to form gluten, and home ground even more so, you may want to up the amount of vital wheat gluten that you are adding.

      It does sound like your dough is too wet and you may want to cut back on the water by a few tablespoons to see if it comes together better. The 100% whole grain breads will not have exactly the same stretch that the master recipe has, so don’t be overly concerned if it breaks off a bit more.

      If you allow the dough to rest more than 1 1/2 hours you may end up over proofing the dough and it will prevent the bread from having the desired oven spring.

      If your oven is running cooler than it can also effect the oven spring. You may want to get an oven thermometer that goes up to about 500 degrees just to make sure your oven is on target. My oven takes about 30 minutes to heat up and then I give it another several minutes to make sure the baking stone is also up to temperature.

      I think that increasing the vital wheat gluten is going to be the best bet.

      Thanks and let us know how it goes, Zoë

  13. I’m with Kit…I have the exact same results and I grind my own flour with my VitaMix. I have been using your Master Recipe from HBin5 for the past 3 months and just tried the Olive oil recipe now as well with the same results. When you suggest increasing the wheat gluten, what would be the suggested amount? I understand results may vary, but a ballpark perhaps?

    Appreciate all the help you provide – I’ve been baking bread for my family for the past year, and this book has made it so much easier!

    1. Hi Sarah and Kit,

      You could try increasing it to 1/2 cup of vital wheat gluten for the full batch and see if that makes a positive difference. Too much and it may start to feel rubbery.

      Thanks and do keep us posted on your progress. Sounds like enough of you who are grinding their flour are having similar results so your feedback is very helpful!


  14. Thanks, Zoe — and Sarah, I’m glad to hear that someone else is experimenting with VitaMix flour. Forgot to mention that these latest flat loaves do have a lovely custard crumb, so I’m guessing that a) the dough is too wet, and b) I overproofed it. It just spread too far sideways to go up very much, I guess. 🙂

    1. Kit: Could consider loaf pan or other kind of pan/pot to contain sideways spread if this particular dough doesn’t form adequate structure. Jeff

  15. Hi!
    I just bought the AB in 5MAD book and the only loaf pan I have is stoneware. Can you tell me if I need to adjust temperature or preheating times etc. to make the bread work? I’m using the Master recipe to make sandwich bread for my kids. Thanks in advance for any help! 🙂

    1. Hi Michele,

      You don’t need to make any adjustments, just be sure to grease the pan very well or the wet dough may stick to the pan. Some people have even put a piece of parchment on the bottom to insure that it comes out.

      Thanks, Zoë

  16. I just tried making the American-Style Bread recipe from the book and the results were a disaster. I am so surprised because I have made at least 6 other recipes from your book (artisan bread book, not the healthy bread book) and they have all been fabulous. The master recipe works every time and my family loves it! My American-style bread, however, did not rise in the loaf pan after sitting for 1 hour and also did not rise after baking. I baked it for an extra 15 minutes out of desperation and it browned but was doughy inside. I’ve gone over the recipe and feel that I followed it closely. Any ideas come to mind that I may have overlooked?
    Thanks, Nadine

  17. Hi Zoe – I really appreciate your quick response. It wasn’t a big loaf but after reading through the posts I am going to try a few things; buying new yeast (maybe mine was no good), handling the loaf as little as possible and lightly, and increase the resting time. I will let you know.

  18. I received the AB in 5 for Christmas and we have all been greatly enjoying the resulting Bread! My Son has severe allergies to eggs (and some other things), but I would love to try some of the Sweet breads and pastries. I realize they would not turn out just the same, but could I use one of the other doughs in place of the brioche or challah? He also really wants to try the chocolate bread. What other changes would I need to make ?

    1. Elisa: Just made a challah, last night, out of light whole wheat dough (discussed at People were fooled by the shape, and the poppy seeds.

      Unfortunately, you can’t just leave out the eggs, because you’ll need to replace liquid too. Have you tried any of the egg substitutes? I have not, so not sure what to tell you. You could also just play with extra water…


  19. Hey I’m back. I’ve made some changes and will test the results this coming Sunday, however, the dough already looks more promising. One thing I noticed because I needed to get more ap flour, was when looking at the labels: King Aurthur (wheat flour, malted barley flour, a natural yeast food) versus Hodgsons or Red Mill (only wheat flour) – both unbleached and unenriched). So it made me wonder if KA had something that helped the yeast/rising that might address why I am having less than stellar results in overall rising. I understand this is chemistry and varies by ingredients and location (and kitchen)(and I saw the FAQ about ka maybe needing more water), however, I want to solve this for my particular situation. Will let you know the results a week from now (that was the other change – let the dough rest in the frig longer). I don’t care what it takes – I will learn to do this.

    1. Mary Anne: KAF all-purpose has more protein, and therefore absorbs more water and supports more rising. If you were under-measuring flour for any reason, KAF will even that out. My guess is that you will be happy with this. Another higher-than-average all-purpose is Dakota Maid Unbleached All-Purpose, but it may be available only in the American Midwest and I don’t know where you’re writing from.

      The other way to approximate KAF AP would be to mix a typical-protein AP like Gold Medal with any brand of “bread” flour. Jeff

  20. I am having the same problem as many others in that my bread is not rising in the oven and comes out about the same size as it was when it went in the oven. My question is: Can I adapt the recipes in this book to the regular way of making bread i.e. let it rise once, punch down, let it rise again and then bake? Thanks for your help.

    1. Randi: If you dry out the recipes and do what you suggest, and then bake off everything you mixed and rose, you will have a traditional recipe, but it won’t save you any time. Should work though. Jeff

  21. Hi again. It turns out that my problem was with my yeast. It had either gone bad or I might have killed it by using water that was too hot. I bought new yeast and really watch that my water is no more than lukewarm and my results have been excellent. I made the American-Style bread and the whole wheat bread and they both turned out great. Now I’m going to venture on to Brioche!!!

  22. Help! I made the Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread dough today. I left it in my 5 qt mixing bowl for 3 hours loosely covered with plastic wrap for the resting part. It was almost over flowing out of the bowl, but flat on the top so I thought it must be done resting. I then put it in a plastic container and into the fridge, where it continued to rise popping off the lid to the container and overflowing in the fridge.
    Did I do something wrong or do I need to get a larger container for resting and refridgeration??
    Thanks for your help!
    BTW – I used bleached all purpose flour and unbleached white wheat flour.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Was your container at least 5-quarts? If not, then you need to get a larger container. If the water you used was cool then it will take longer to rise, which is why it may not have been finished at 3 hours?

      Thanks! Zoë

  23. Hi Zoe

    I have both your books and have tried the master recipe for both books.

    I have better results with the white bread and dense ones for the whole wheat.

    I weigh my ingredients and it should be more accurate but I’m having the same problem as the others like Mary Anne.

    The dough are never stretchy like yours and no or not much oven spring.

    I bake artisan breads from sketch with no problem. Beautiful loafs with excellent crust and crumb.

    But no such results with both your books. I do not want to give up yet… Please HELP !

    thanks and blessings

    1. Christine: Have you been through FAQ page, especially the “dense bread” question (see above, in the websites “tabs). If nothing there is the explanation, check back in with us. And let it go the full 90 minutes.

      How about your “cloaking”? Are you doing it like in the videos? (see above) Jeff

  24. Firstly i didn’t think i would ever get so excited about bread, buy i’m hooked. My problem is that after i mix and leave to rise, my dough triples in size. after i have placed in the fridge and go to scoop some out, all the air goes. i take my piece and place for second rise before i bake but i get very little rise. i’ve used a thermometer to make sure i’m at luke warm when i first mix. it still tastes great but hard to use for a sandwich!! many thanks..

    1. Dave: Are you at high altitude? If so, see the FAQ on high altitude baking.

      Are you getting good air holes, or is it too dense? Is it spreading sideways rather than rising up? If so, consider a loaf pan or do a small cast-iron that will contain the sides


  25. Hi Jeff,

    thanks for the quick reply. It really is a testament to yourself and zoe, that you offer such great support to your readers. It is very reassuring to know your able to get some help. I’m in Australia and at sea level…’s across the well i hope thats sea level. i’m using instant yeast, one a nd a half tablespoons, i checked measures as US is different to australia. i’ll keep perservering. thanks again.

  26. I had the problem of the loaf not really getting that great ‘oven spring’ I kept reading about. I finally figured out that the issue is my steam. It just comes out the back of my oven and doesn’t hang around to work on the bread. When I made the loaf in a covered dish (used a clay baker and then a pyrex casserole, both worked) the loaf sprang (sprung?) up beautifully.

    1. Barb: Baking in a closed container is great— it has a lot of “thermal mass” so heat is instantaneously transferred to the loaf, resulting in what you saw. Glad it worked out. Jeff

  27. Jeff,
    I too have the same problem Barb had with the steam escaping my oven. Can you further explain the covered dish method?

  28. Hello Zoe and Jeff,
    I LOVE your book ABin5MaD, just love it. I wanted to be able to bake bread without using a bread machine for years and your beautiful book has allowed me to do so. Thank you!

    Question: I first tried whole wheat flour for the boule master recipe and my baguettes turned out very well. I decided to try and use the unbleached all-purpose white flour and the consistency of the dough is fine. However, after an inital cloaking, and then shaping and proofing for the alotted time period, the baguettes flatten out too much in the oven during baking. It is like they cannot hold their shape. The crust is just lovely and the inside crumb is light and airy, but the actual crumb area is very reduced in size. I would like to know if I would have better luck using a baguette mold or maybe I am not shaping the baguette properly. Do you roll it into a cylinder or do you after shaping into the ball, stetch out into a rectangle and then pull dough from above and fold in the middle and then do the same from the bottom side? Thank you for any suggestions you can provide. I sent for storage containers, and a pizza peel and can’t wait to try the pizza dough and the brioche dough (cinnamon twists and coffee….:))
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Brenda,

      Here is a post I did on shaping the baguette Because the loaf is so thin it only requires 20 minutes of rest time. If your kitchen is particularly warm you may need slightly less. If it seems to be losing its shape right away it could be that the dough is just a tad too wet?

      I use a baguette pan all the time and love it. Mine is old and the dough tends to stick to it so I use a narrow sheet of parchment under the loaf.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  29. Made my first loaf toady! It really didn’t grow in the oven, or sing. Maybe the cuts weren’t deep enough? Also, do you just use regular unbleached flour or bread flour? I used both. So are both used or just one? Letting bread cool a bit before i try it, it looks good if nothing else! Thanks for the fun book, Diane

    1. Diane: It’s unbleached all-purpose. Why don’t you try a longer resting time– 60 to 90 minutes rather than the 40 minutes we talk about in the first book (assume that’s the one you’re using?).

      Make sure your oven is running the correct temperature with an oven thermometer like this one at Amazon

      I’m betting it’s running cold so you don’t get any oven spring. Jeff

  30. Hi – I made the 100% whole wheat bread the other day, in a loaf pan. The recipe says to shape in a ball and then drop in the middle of the loaf pan. I let it sit for 100 minutes, and expected it to fill to the pan. It did not, and then I thought maybe it would when it baked. It still didn’t. Did I misinterpret the recipe? It is also very dense, still tasty, but very dense. Suggestions? This is just my second batch, so I’m learning.

    1. Tracy: Which book did you make this bread from, first, or the second? Second book introduces vital wheat gluten, which really improves things in high whole-grain breads. Check our our FAQs page above. Jeff

  31. Little by little I’m getting there. My question today is very basic. What is the optimum (room) temperature to let the freshly mixed dough rest at, and what is the optimum (room) temperature to let the refrigerated dough rise before baking? The balance is probably similar to your section on being able to use less yeast, as far as less yeast means slower, longer resting and rising times. I’m thinking the temperature at which you do these is important as well (the cooler the home – the longer, the warmer the home – the shorter, or closer to your standard). So if you could give those optimum temps, and maybe some education around them, that would be wonderful!

    1. Hi Mary Anne,

      My kitchen runs at about 65-67 degrees in the winter, so that is the temperature I’ve always let them rest at. In the summer it can fluctuate a bit more than that and I will sometimes have a shorter rest if it is particularly warm and muggy.

      Thanks and happy baking! Zoë

  32. i was so excited about your gluten free brioche but substituted cornstarch with arrowroot/tapioca starch b/c i’m allergic to corn. when i mixed the dry and wet mixtures together, it was very watery. even after resting for 2 hours, it’s still watery. what did i do wrong? can i fix it?

    1. Taylor: Sounds like arrowroot/tapioca don’t absorb enough water (compared to cornstarch). You’re going to have to mix in additional dry ingredients, that’s the only way to salvage. Can’t promise you it will work though…

  33. My braided challah opens up too much in the center when baking, leaving the shiny golden poppy seed parts on the sides and a “pulled apart” look down the center. It still tastes great, and the insides are perfect. Do you suggest rolling or stretching the ropes thinner before braiding (I’m making another one tonight)? I took a picture – can I show it to you?

    1. Dr. D: This happens to me, too! I guess it must not bother me much. Longer rest might help, not sure about the thinner braids but it’s worth a try.

      As for the picture, you can post to our fansite on Facebook ( Tell us where to find it. That’s probably the easiest way to do it.

      Or join the Flickr group at and upload your pictures there. Then copy the picture’s link into any of our “Comments” fields and they can be viewed by everyone.

  34. My bread dough seems to rise OK but my refrigerator is at 33 degrees so when I try to reach in to pull out dough for a loaf it is not pliable at all. I saw your demonstration in April in Stillwater and your dough would stretch as you pulled out enough for a loaf. My question is: can you tell me the recommended temperature for the refrigerator?

    The cold dough was hard to shape and I am afraid that I was losing the bubbles by working it. When baked, the bread was a little too dense compared to some of the bread I sampled at your demonstration in April.

    Second question is what is the difference between vital wheat gluten and wheat gluten (not vital)?

    1. Hi Mary Ellen,

      You can compensate for the cold temperature in your refrigerator by allowing the dough to rest longer before baking. Add about 15-30 minutes more to the rest.

      You can also allow the bucket to sit out for 15 minutes before reaching in to pull out a piece and this will give you more stretch to the dough.

      Vital Wheat Gluten, Gluten Flour and wheat gluten are all the same.

      Thanks, Zoë

  35. I recently moved from a lovely warm house with effective gas fired central heating to a COLD house with no central heating (don’t ask why 🙂 ). I make 1.5lbs of master or peasant dough in a 2lb loaf tin & was giving it 90 minutes of rise time on the counter. Do I need to adjust that now that I am in a colder house? (I am not sure what the ambient temp is in the kitchen)

    1. Laura: In all likelihood, yes, you will need to increase the resting time during cool months. Hard to say exactly how much. 25%? You’ll know you went too long if you see a lot of sideways spread.

  36. Is there any way to salvage dough that was left way past the 2-hour room temp rise? I foolishly forgot about it and left the dough out all night, so 12 hours total. I could not find any mention of my silly error on the site. Any suggestions or should I just start over? Thanks for all the great information!

    1. Becca: Common question, so I finally wrote a “FAQ” (Frequently Asked Question), so please click on the FAQs tab above and click on “Left the dough on the counter overnight! Can I still use it?”

  37. Love your books 🙂

    But… after six loaves of the master recipe for whole wheat, I just cannot get it to rise. Flavor is great, crumb is ok but could be lighter.

    I am using unbleached AP, then home-ground flour from hard wheat berries. Vital Gluten, too. My dough is silly wet. When I watched the video I saw that my dough could never be formed into such a nice loaf straight out of the bucket; it’s just way too sticky.

    So… add more flour to the initial dough? Add it after the fridge rise?

    Thanks for your help. I’d love to get this down beautifully.


    1. Kendra: Your recipe is performing differently because home-ground grains perform very unpredictably. I used a boutique fresh-ground ( and didn’t have this, but that’s because the commercial grinder gives a very fine, uniform granule. So… you’ll need to experiment. Go ahead and add additional flour– I’d suggest the AP to lighten things up. You can add flour now, yes, but also, to your next batch at the outset. Try a quarter-cup and see if things look more like our videos.

  38. I’m baking in london, England, and I can’t get any oven spring in the boule recipe. The texture is fine and the crust is excellent, but the loaf is about one-and-a-half inches thick. I wonder if there is a difference between English and US flours? I’m using plain flour, which I assume is the same as American all-purpose. I’ve baked a loaf today using plain and bread flour, but achieved the same result. I bake bread a lot but I can’t get these recipes to work and I’m close to giving up! The only recipe in the book that turns out as expected is the one for challah. Any ideas please? Rose

    1. Hi Rose,

      Does your dough spread considerably while it is resting? If so, it may be a touch too wet to hold its shape, which will result in a bread that is not rising well. You may want to watch some of our videos to make sure that the dough is the right consistency.

      Is your kitchen very warm or are you letting the dough rest longer than an hour? If so, the dough may be over-proofing, which means it will have no more rising power in the oven.

      Are you using an oven thermometer? If your oven is not hot enough the dough will not rise as well.

      Let me know if this is helpful. Zoe

  39. Hi Zoe, thanks for this, ues it does spread a lot so it probably is too wet, I’ll have another try. The bread tastes great though even if it is rather thin! Rose

  40. I have not been able to find the answer to this question — so I am most likely the only incompetent bread baker out there —
    ? When I slash the loaf, everytime, it collapses and then does not spring back in the oven. I have tried different sharp knifes, even a surgical scalpel, done it at the recommended depth, floured the knife, on and on it goes — I have ruined about 7 loaves of bread and am about to give up this method. Help me if you can,

    1. Paula: Do you like your results when you don’t slash at all? If it’s dense anyway, check to be sure you’re not using bleached flour and other suggestions at the FAQs tab above, under “Dense crumb…” Check through the other FAQs as well.

      I’m guessing it’s not the slashing that’s the problem, it’s something else. Resting too long? Too warm where you’re resting?

      We’ll figure it out though… Jeff

  41. The flour is unbleached (master recipe from your second book). I wonder if I am resting it too long — I use my convection oven as a proof box set at 100 degrees for aboit 2 hrs. Smce it does not seem to double in bulk like regular bread, how do I know when it is ready to bake? Also, I have not tried “not” slashing it; is that an option? Thanks — I am not ready to give up yet…..

  42. I have made more bread since I bought your two books than I ever thought possible. All of them have been fantastic and oh so easy to make. I made the olive spelt loaf from your AHB book and halved the recipe. My first loaf was beautiful to look at and tasted heavenly (I did add some sun dried tomatoes to the dough when I made it but otherwise followed everything else.) Today, I took the last bit of dough (about 1 lb) and baked it after following all the normal directions. First it spread out instead of up while it was resting for 90 minutes on the counter. In the oven, there was some spring but not a lot. It had too much spring to be a flatbread but not enough spring to be a loaf. Why caused my 2nd loaf to spread instead of rise? My dough was only 3 days old. Thanks so much. You guys are great

    1. Bettyanne: Hmm.

      That loaf has a lot of heavy stuff in it (spelt, olives, yogurt), and yes, we do see this sometimes. I’m guessing it overproofed. As dough ages, it needs less resting time in some cases. Here’s a suggestion: shorten the rest time as that dough ages; get it into the oven as soon as it starts to show signs of spreading sideways (or at least 40 minutes). See how that goes.

      Could also experiment with more VWG, but let’s hold off on that till you see about this option. Jeff

  43. I made my first loaf of the Master Boule recipe and the bottom of the loaf did not brown, nor did it rise more than about 2 inches. I used unbleached white flour, let it rest, slashed, and baked for 30 min. on a stone with steam underneath at 450. Any suggestions would be appreciated. The remainder is still in my frig. Also, after reading the other posts, my dough was not stretchy; more sticky. Looks like ciabatta not a boule.

    1. Karen: Sounds like it may be spreading sideways with good expansion, just all sideways. If it’s really not expanding at all, it would be dense and leaden. Is that the case?

      How are you measuring your flour? See and make sure you’re doing it that way.

      Did you preheat the stone? Also, check through all the FAQs questions, see tab above.

  44. Would spritzing the surface of the bread with water just before it goes in the oven give a better oven spring?

    Also, do the depth of the slashes matter with oven spring?

    My first two loaves turned out pretty nice, but perhaps a little dense.

    When I make bread the traditional way, I usually spritz the bread with PAM and cover with plastic wrap for the final proofing. Is that OK with this method?


    1. Hi Bill,

      Spritzing the dough with water will soften the surface so it will have the ability to rise in the oven. Adding water to the metal pan when you place the bread in the oven will do the same thing. Either will work, but spritzing requires that you do it several times in the first few minutes of baking. I prefer the pan so I don’t have to open the oven door, which can let the heat escape.

      The slashes need to be about 1/4-inch deep to get a uniform look to the bread. If the slashes aren’t deep enough the dough will still have a good oven spring, but the surface of the dough will tear open in a less aesthetic way.

      You may want to let the dough rest an extra 15-30 minutes if your bread is coming out too dense.

      Using any kind of fat (oil, PAM, butter) on the dough before baking will prevent it from having a really crispy crust. You can loosely drape the dough with plastic wrap, but I would sprinkle it with a small amount of flour in place of the PAM if you are wanting a crisp crust.

      Thanks, Zoë

  45. Zoe: Thanks. One more question if I may. If you are going to make bread in a standard loaf pan, do you still go with a 1 lb measure of dough? Aren’t loaf pans for 1.5 lb loaves?

    Thanks again.

  46. One thing I’ve been doing, since my master recipe dough does tend to spread, especially towards the end of the batch, is to use the french bread pans from King Arthur. I cloak the dough, let it rest for 5 minutes, then shape it into a rectangle, fold like a letter, and let it rise in the pan for another hour or so. The concave shape of the pan keeps it from spreading too far, and the rest comes from oven spring. Sometimes they come out really craggy, despite slashing, but I don’t care – the taste is great, and the rustic look is part of the charm.

  47. I want to make 100% whole grain breads from your HBi5 book. I have the HBi5 book. I’m noticing that most of the recipes use unbleached all purpose flour. I want to make 100% whole grain only. In the recipes that call for UAPF, what can I substitute and in what amounts? Also, I tried the 100% whole wheat master recipe on pg 79 and the result was small dense loafs. I used a loaf pan. Any suggestions?


    1. Soccy: In HBin5, we have about a dozen 100% whole grain doughs, and that’s what I’d direct you to. If you want to convert a non 100% whole-grain to all-whole grain, all bets are off, you need to start testing. In many cases, the ingredients we chose weigh the dough down too much for 100%. But basically, you can swap in whole grain for AP by increasing the liquid. How much is a matter of testing— try a quarter-cup and see what happens.

      The real problem is that you found the 100% WW loaf on p79 too dense. Are you comparing it to commercial bread? It’s going to be much denser than that. Check out our FAQs page above, esp the entry “Dense crumb…” If the suggestions don’t help, check back with us.

      Are you trying to use fresh-ground flour? People have gotten inconsistent results with that. What brand of flour are you using? Did you omit the vital wheat gluten? It’s essential. Jeff

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