New video: Gluten-cloaking, or how to shape a loaf


So many of you have asked for close-up video of someone shaping a loaf  (what we called “gluten-cloaking” in the first book) Doing this quick shaping step is the same with whole grain doughs, but the feel is different– it isn’t quite as resilient.

But as you can see in the video, it’s basically the same process with this 100% whole wheat dough (the honey-enriched variation on page 92 of The New Healthy Bread in Five Minute a Day).

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146 thoughts on “New video: Gluten-cloaking, or how to shape a loaf

  1. I love baking bread!!! (My family loves it, too.) I usually bake the 100% whole wheat with olive oil.
    I read that it’s good for pizza dough, but the crust doesn’t crisp up too well, even with the pizza stone. Is there a tip I’ve missed?

    1. Hi Katrina,

      Because of the oil in the whole wheat flour and the addition of olive oil in the dough it will never get as crisp as a crust made with white flour, but you can try rolling it very thin and making sure your oven is preheated with a stone for about 30+ minutes.

      Thanks, Zoë

  2. Thanks for the tip! I have a question though…

    Even though I follow the recipe exactly, my dough is MUCH stickier and moist than that in the video. I don’t live at a high altitude, so… I guess it’s not really a question but yet it is. 🙂

    1. Hi Laura,

      Are you trying to shape the loaf when the dough is fresh and not yet refrigerated? This will result in a much stickier dough.

      If you are waiting until it is chilled and still too sticky then it may be how you are measuring the flour? Be sure to use the scoop and sweep method, rather than spooning the flour into the measuring cup. This is a common cause of too wet dough.

      Let me know if either of these sound right. If not, we can figure out something else. Zoë

  3. Thanks I threw out my wheat dough because it felt different and I thought I had messed it up. Now I see from this video I had the right consistency after all. A lesson learned.

    1. Hi Laura,

      From what I’ve been hearing from people the dough made with fresh ground flour, unless very finely ground, requires a bit more vital wheat gluten than commercially ground flour. Try adding a few more tablespoons to the next batch and see if that makes a difference. It will provide the dough with a little more elasticity.

      Thanks, Zoë

  4. That video was so helpful, b/c it showed me that my dough really is too wet. Even following the recipe by weight, and even using store-bought flour (and Laura, I do find that grinding my own makes it even wetter), my dough is too wet to hold a shape. I use ionized water from an Enagic Kangen machine, and I suspect this is part of my problem. (Ionizing supposedly makes water “wetter.”) This last batch I tried cutting back on the water by about 1/3 cup, and while the dough is still in the fridge and has yet to be shaped, it sure looks a lot more like the pictures.

    1. Hi Kit,

      So glad you found the video to be helpful. I have never heard of wetter water, I have to do some research on this!

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. I need help. I have tried to make this bread several times, but can’t get those beautiful strands from the gluten. My dough comes out in clumps, no strands at all. I use fresh ground whole wheat instead of store bought wheat flour, but everything else I use is according to the recipe. Help.

    1. Becky: All bets are off when using non-commercial flour. My best guess (assuming you are using the vital wheat gluten as we specify) is to make it wetter; fresh-ground whole grain flours absorb water unpredictably compared with commercial stuff, which is extremely fine-ground. Sometimes it works just like commercial WW, other stuff just doesn’t. Sounds like yours will need adjusting.

      One other possibility– you may be happier if the dough’s a little warmer– it becomes more elastic and pliant at higher temps. Some refrigerators are running to cold, so that’s one possibility. The other thing is you can warm it a bit at room temp before cutting off and shaping. Jeff

  6. Can you please make videos of your other great techniques such as…pizza rolling, challah breads, etc? I am a visual learner and it would help if I felt that I was there learning with you….many blessings!

    1. Jenny: The fun and interesting part about that little experiment was that people found it super-useful, yet it was about half the work for me to do it compared to the photo essays we usually do.

      So, bottom line, there will be more of these coming…


  7. As for not getting those strands of lovely gluten, someone on another thread suggested that their refrigerated bread was TOO COLD.

    So, it might be worth experiementing w/ letting the dough sit out a bit (warming a tad) before shaping.

    Haven’t finished my experimentation here (so can’t report my actual experience). I’ve turned my frig up a tad (I keep it quite cold).

    Another avenue we don’t tend to think of.

  8. Can anyone help me figure out why my stone just broke in half?

    Just got the book yesterday, tonight was my second time baking the basic recipe.

    I have (had!) a pampered chef round pizza stone, and yes I preheated it in the oven and followed the directions for placing 1 cup of water in a pan at the bottom of the oven. About 15 minutes into baking I heard a loud pop and my stone is now in 2 pieces.

    Is this a defective stone (I’ve used it for a few years and never had a problem) or what did I do wrong?

    1. Amanda: We’ve found that stones do not last forever, though my first one lasted 11 years of frequent baking. It seems clear that the 1/2-inch thick ones are very durable, and the 1/4-inch thick stones are much less so.

      Incidentally, you can usually use the broken stone pieces to make breads, all depends on how the crack is shaped and what the resultant pieces look like.

      Alternatives to the breakable stones include the newer cast-iron “stones,” or even just a cast-iron skillet, which we’ve found work quite nicely. Or a Dutch Oven or a cloche

      My guess is the cloches, being ceramic, are eventually going to break like the stones. Iron, certainly not. Jeff

  9. did you say “let it sit for about NINETY minutes”? in you first book, i am pretty sure you say twenty. i’m wondering if i’ve not been letting my dough sit long enough!

    1. Hi Frank,

      The boule Jeff made in this video is the whole wheat master recipe from HBin5 (second book). The only breads that would rest for 20 minutes are baguettes and some of the flatbreads made with all white flour. The boule from our first book rests for at least 40 minutes, but can go longer for a more open crumb. This post may be helpful:

      Thanks, Zoë

  10. I find that my refrigerated dough is too wet to form the gluten cloak. I weighed all my ingredients inlcuding the flour. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hi Sara,

      What kind of flour are you using? Some of the flours that are coarse ground result in a wetter dough. Adding another 2-3 tablespoons of vital wheat gluten often helps with this type of flour.

      Thanks, Zoë

  11. I just bought your wonderful Healthy Breads book and I’ve purchased a bread stone, etc., and am ready to try to make pizza. I have two questions for you:
    1: When taking the dough out of the frig, is there a resting or rising period before you start to shape it as there is with bread, or do you just begin to shape it?
    2. In the recipe, it says to flour the peel and start to shape the dough. My question is, is this when you put the cornmeal on the peel, or if using parchment paper, is this when I lay it over the peel?
    My husband thinks I crazy, but I’m so excited to begin, and I did watch your video on how to prepare dough and my intimidation factor went down to zero. I thought, gee, I can do that! Love you guys!

    1. Hi Leslie,

      So glad you are going to make pizza! The best thing about pizzas and flatbreads is that there is no waiting for it to rest, just roll it out, top it and bake. I usually roll the dough out on the counter using enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the counter. Check it as you are rolling to make sure it doesn’t stick. Once it is as thin as you would like then transfer it to the pizza peel that is either covered in a skim of flour or a sheet of parchment.

      Hope that helps, Zoë

  12. Okay- question- the last batch of dough I made developed hard, dried out spots on top of it withing just a few days. Is this because the lid wasn’t on enough? Or because I didn’t mix it well enough? thnaks!

    1. DD Life: Sounds like it’s a problem with too much air circulation from outside the container, as you suggest, that the lid wasn’ t on enough. Try leaving just a crack open. Given that you don’t describe powdery dry spots, I’m guessing that it’s not a problem with inadequate mixing. Jeff

  13. A video clip is worth a thousand words! I had posed the question to the previous posting about how to “cloak” because I didn’t think I was doing it correctly. This video showed me exactly how–and showed me that I was indeed trying too hard before. It’s really so easy. Thank you! P.S. My Anadama bread just turned out great. Now I’ve got a challah mix rising for a fresh loaf tomorrow…

    1. Jennifer: That is really good news about the Anadama. It’s a little loose, and has to be cloaked just so, or it’s pretty flat. Although that tastes fine, and my guess is that the original was a flatbread. Jeff

    1. Todd: Sorry we took so long to get back to you. I prefer the Sassafras brand, which I loved but basically isn’t being made anymore, though it’s still technically in our Amazon store. It finally cracked after 15 years so I tried this bamboo one, . That’s what’s in the picture.

      Not quite as large as the Sassafras one, and a little thicker and heavier, so not quite as good. I’m looking for another that I can strongly recommend. Jeff

  14. I recently started making bread again using my bread machine to rise then hand shaping and baking. I’d gotten pretty good at doing this with 50-100% whole wheat recipes. I know what those more traditional doughs should feel like but understand that your doughs are supposed to be wetter. But how wet is too wet? My first attempts at following the Healthy Bread recipes have resulted in very wet doughs with low rise. Based on the video I think the dough might be too wet. It’s sticky and gloppy after first mixing (like the video) but not smooth and satiny after refrig rising (unlike the video). This has been true for 100% whole wheat, flax bread and WW with olive oil. The bread tastes good (especially the olive oil one) but is short and dense.

    1. Hi Kaztx,

      What kind of flour are you using? We recommend using a commercial brand of whole wheat for the first run because it tends to be a finer grind. Some of the course ground flours can result in a wetter dough. You may have to add a touch more flour to the dough.

      Thanks, Zoë

  15. This is great! I much prefer video to photos for tutorials like this…thank you! And please keep them coming! 🙂

  16. Hi guys…Your books have changed our life! I can’t wait for the next one, as i love making the pitas and other flat bread from your first book….

    I learned an mastered the first book last year, but I am almost ready to shelve “healthy” bread…I need your help…I am having the most difficult time getting a rise out of my stored “healthy” bread.

    I make a loaf after first rise with is beautiful, but then, the rest of my dough produces bricks. It seems to loose all its gas during refrigeration.

    I am using excellent organic quality ingredients, not “overworking” the dough, etc. HELP!

    Any ideas, hints or tricks?

    On another note, how do you think virgin raw coconut oil would work in your recipes, since it is a solid at 75 degrees?

    1. Hi Stacyinaz,

      It sounds like the flour you are using may be a bit coarse, which will result in a dough that does not rise as well. Does your dough seem wetter than normal? With the organic flours that are not commercially ground to a fine flour you may want to use an extra dose of vital wheat gluten. About 2-3 extra tablespoons may do the trick and extend the storage of the dough.

      One other thought about the dough is that your refrigerator may be cooler than normal and your dough may require a bit of extra time to rise. This may also be true if your kitchen is cool?

      Thanks and we will help you get the results that you are looking for! Zoë

    1. Hi Bethany,

      Yes, the doughs will have a different texture. The dough that Jeff is using is the 100% whole wheat which will be a little bit drier than the soft Sandwich loaf.

      Hope that helps? Zoë

  17. Came across an amazing i phone/pod app. It’s an easy to follow video tutorial on how to make flat breads. The breads look amazing, and after l finished making them l was very impressed!! Can hardly wait for her next video to come out.

    1. Branka: Sorry, but this looks like a commercial link so we’ve edited it out. Can’t link to things that we can’t personally vouch for.

  18. Thanks for the video and your books. I am having so much fun baking and sharing bread with family and friends. Just mixed up my first batch of Betsy’s Seeded Bread from the Healthy Grain book. Cannot wait to bake the loaves tomorrow.

  19. Thank you so much for your book and website. I never thought I would be a baker. I have for a few years now been developing simple recipes for healthy meals, trying to use more local and natural foods, but thought I was “stuck” with whatever breads or desserts would be available from the supermarket or bakery.

    Because my husband has recently been told by our doctor that he needs to be careful of high glycemic and processed foods, I bought your cookbook and began experimenting. Originally, I was disappointed that most of your recipes used regular flour. However, I have based all my experiments on your 100% whole wheat recipe and have successfully made pecan rolls, herb breads, and caramelized onion rolls. My husband is a cook in his working life, and though he doesn’t bake, he is very picky about what he likes and doesn’t like. Even so, he has been extremely happy with my experiments from your book.

    I am so delighted to realize that I can use whole wheat flour and successfully modify your recipes to come up with interesting and great breads and desserts.

    My advice to anyone else who is trying this is to modify your expectations. Smaller loaves or mini-boules seem to work better with free-form loaves from whole wheat. And I’ve found that most things do need a bit more baking time, and adding more water into the pan for the steam.

    My next experiment will be the pumpernickel bread, sizing into small loaves, one per turkey Reuben for our next supper.

    Thanks so much! I am having a lot of fun, and look forward to even more as I adjust your whole wheat recipe to explore the full range of the other kinds of breads your book offers.


  20. Zoe — re: bread consistency … it’s good to know that the whole wheat loaf Jeff demonstrates should be “more dry” than the sandwich loaves.

    By the way, I experimented this past week using applesauce instead of oil in my soft whole wheat loaves. It turned out fabulous, the texture and crumb were great, and the bread seemed to stay moist for longer. The initial dough was just a little more gooey than normal, but there was no difference in the final product. Apparently applesauce can work great as an oil substitute in more than just brownies and muffins!

    Note: I was using my own home made applesauce which is simply cooked apples (skins included) and a hint of water. No extra sugar or salt … Some commercial applesauce include these and I’m sure it would factor into the baking equation.

  21. I am enjoying this method of bread making, but am having problems cutting through the crust. What kind of bread knife do you use? Or am I doing something wrong that the crust is too hard or I just don’t have a good knife? (the bottom is especially hard- I Iam using a baking stone and parchment paper) Other than that the bread has been amazing!

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      Are you using an oven thermometer? Your oven may be running slightly off and that can effect the crust. But, I’ve had other people tell me that they got a new bread knife and that was all that was wrong. This is the one I recommend. There is a cheaper version, but the blade doesn’t last nearly as long.

      Thanks, Zoë

    1. Hi Mary Beth,

      Yes, you can use a convection with wonderful results. You may need to adjust the temperature down by 20 degrees, if your oven doesn’t do that automatically. The heat is more intense in a convection oven and if you don’t adjust the temperature the crust will brown before the interior is properly baked.

      Thanks, Zoë

  22. Bread knife: As someone who is pretty good at slicing fingers, the knife I like even better is the offset-style knife; I think Wusthof calls theirs a deli knife. This allows you to use some weight to cut downward, more than wrist action.

  23. Hi, I wanted to offer a suggestion for those folks like me who prefer to avoid plastic containers. I’ve discovered that my 4-quart crockery insert for my slow cooker works perfectly as a mixing and storage container. As with all crockpots, the glass lid is not airtight, so this works as well.

    By the way, I made the braided challah with whole wheat for my family last Friday. No one, including me, could believe that such as beautiful and delicious loaf was so easy to make. We were all thrilled. Thank you!

  24. So I just read this article by Harold McGee (with a video beneath it by Mark Bittman). They basically slam your method–which I use and adore–as an “industrial shortcut” that makes for “harsh” tasting bread. How do you respond to their criticisms? Thanks–

    1. Thank you Vern,

      It is disappointing that they chose to “slam it” as opposed to recognizing the benefit to the variety of approaches that are available. Our method offers people the ability to make wonderful bread quickly and with little stress. We also offer people the option to use as much or as little yeast as suits their schedule and palate. It is one man’s opinion, but I fear he didn’t fully understand the nature of our method. To capture the best result and time savings you need to store the dough and that was completely missing from his article.

      I greatly admire Harold McGee and Jim Lahey, and wish to take nothing away from their method of baking, but I do think there is room for a variety of approaches that can give people wonderful bread.

      Enjoy all the bread! Zoë

    1. Grayce: As with all our recipes, just mix until all the wet and dry ingredients come together smoothly, this is pretty quick. Jeff

  25. I LOVE this method of baking bread. Since discovering your method and buying the book, I bake my family fresh bread EVERY day! I use the refrigerator rise method, set the oven to automatically start preheating while I’m asleep, and put it in the oven as soon as I wake up. Less than 30 minutes later I have bread.

    That’s great because I’m out the door for my 12 hour work day less than 1 hour after I wake up. What other method allows me to do this?

    In my opinion, naysayers either haven’t tried the method for a full cycle, or are bitter that they made a mistake and didn’t get the results that they wanted for some reason on the first try.

    And the word to the wise is this: Don’t buy any extra equipment until you’ve tried the method with the tools that you have a few times. Use a cookie sheet, shape a round loaf, and pop it in the oven. I happened to have a baking stone already, so I’ve invested $0 extra and am THRILLED with the results.

    1. Mike: Thanks for your comments. As you say, no need to buy equipment until you’ve figured out exactly how you want to use the method. Check back anytime you have questions. Jeff

  26. Oops! I did invest in the book, so I can’t claim $0 invested. But it was the best money that I’ve spent in quite awhile!

    Thanks for a great bread baking method!

  27. Thank you, Jeff.

    Actually, I do have a question. If I wanted to make multiple loaves at the same time, say 4 or 5, of the challah braided bread, how much do you guess that I’d have to adjust the cooking time?

    I know it’s pretty much trial and error due to oven differences, but if you have a starting point based on experience, it would be very helpful.

    As a side note, my oven doesn’t hold steam well at all, so I use an inverted deep chafing pan over my loaves and get GREAT results.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Mike,

      As you said it may just be a matter of trial and error. I often bake a number of loaves at once and it doesn’t change the baking time by much at all. One thing you may find is that you will need to rotate the loaves if you are baking on two different racks in the oven at once. The top and bottom crust will be effected by having breads above and below them. After about 20 minutes check the loaves and see if they are coloring at the same rate. If not, switch from top to bottom and back to front. If they are all on one level it will not be as much of an issue.

      Enjoy all that bread! Zoë

  28. I now own ABin5 and HBin5. (2 copies: one for a friend). wow you have made me a instant success!! my husband is raving and trying to not eat too much bread at dinner (the biggest compliment!). Three Questions: I froze some 1# pieces of raw dough which had been sitting in the fridge for a week. When it’s time to bake, what’s the best procedure? can I use some bleached unsifted flour in place of unbleached (bought the wrong one)? which recipe can I use for pizza?

    1. Hi Mary Beth,

      I just put the frozen packet of dough in the fridge overnight and then treat it as though I took it out of the bucket the next day. You may want to let it rest a bit longer than normal, especially if it has been frozen for a few weeks.

      I use the master recipe or the olive oil dough to make my pizza.

      Thanks for trying the bread and sharing with your friend! Zoë

  29. Just finished eating slices of soft whole wheat bread (longest 10 minutes of waiting for it to cool) with husband and kids. We’re all doing the jig in the kitchen. What is it about fresh bread that has us doing the happy dance? You guys rock!

  30. I’m new to all this and not afraid to keep trying. I collected all of the implements and ingredients and made my first batch of dough yesterday. This afternoon I dove in and baked my first basic recipe.

    The gluten-cloak gave me fits. I have tried to form two loafs and can not get them to have a smooth skin. The dough just stretches apart. I followed the recipe to the letter. The dough in the tub looked just like yours in the video. I added small amounts of flour as I was shaping but none seemed to help. The baked results did not yield any large holes in the crumb.
    The crust was nice but did not crackle when removed from the oven.

    I realize that it’s difficult to make suggestion without actually seeing my results but maybe you have some suggestions anyway.

    If others are making this bread successfully then I should be able to also.

    Thanks for you time.

    1. Dave: As for the hole size, that will get better as the batch ages, watch for that.

      But about the “cloaking,” why don’t you try something simpler while learning the method? Just do the loaves in a loaf pan for a while, which controls sideways spread and gives you a chance to practice “cloaking” some more.

      FYI: the more whole grain in a loaf, the less it crackles when removed from oven. You might want to try the white bread first, easier in a number of ways, with a more predictable result. Jeff

  31. Jeff,
    Thank you for your quick response. I really goofed though. I should have been more clear in saying that I am working with the basic recipe, not a whole wheat version. My bad.

    My crumb comes out looking like traditional bread. That tells me that when I cloak the bread I’m working it too much. I am not able to get a smooth skin on top.

  32. Another thanks for the video! So helpful. Aaaand, another request for more videos. 🙂 Something that would be helpful to me is a visual comparison of ABin5 to HBin5 dough. I’m still not sure my HB dough is right (so dry!)… but perhaps that’s because I’m expecting it to be wet & stretchy like the AB dough?

    I have to give you guys a huge thanks for sharing your method. I feel so empowered! I’ve been making all of our bread for months, and feel great about the contribution I make to my family’s health… and budget! Plus, it’s just fun – and this is coming from someone that has struggled with Kitchen Intimidation for years.

    1. Kitter: More videos are coming, for sure. I’ve been thinking of doing one with a wetter dough— you’re right, the white dough is stretchier. Maybe that’ll be next. Jeff

  33. Just wanted to share somethings that I found helpful to make sure that my 5 minutes was really 5 minutes.

    At the dollar store I purchased 2 shakers like you see in pizzareas and keep one with flour and the other with cornmeal on my counter top for when I want to bake the bread.

    I also keep a dedicated cake pan for the steaming of bread stored in the oven when not otherwise in use.

    Lastly, I found an inexpensive wooden cutting board with an opening for your hand to use as my pizza paddle, I store it away separate so it is only used as a ‘pizza paddle’.

  34. I love the idea of having bread anytime, but I find that my dough is far wetter than the pics and doesn’t create those lovely gluten strands. I’ve done it by weight and done the sweep method. I use the KA White Wheat flour, Red Star yeast and 1/4 c of wheat gluten… any ideas??

    Even after chilling, the dough is pretty sticky, and if you grab a lump it pulls right off – no need for kitchen shears. During the rest period, the dough goes out instead of up, so my loaves end up 3″ tall by about 9 or 10″ in diameter.

    On the other hand, I’ve learned that I can use my cast iron pot as a cloche, and if you add a tiny bit of water when you put the dough in, you can get a wonderfully hard crust even on a whole wheat loaf. Just be sure to take the lid off after about 20 minutes, so the loaf has time to brown up nicely.

    1. Hi Kate,

      Are you making 100% whole wheat loaf or is it the Master recipe? The 100% whole grain tends to have much less stretch, due to all the bran in the dough. You can try adding a couple more tablespoons of vital wheat gluten to the mix next time.

      We love the Dutch oven baking and you don’t really even need to add the additional water. The moisture from within the dough will create all the steam you need. But, if you are loving it as you do now, don’t fix it! 😉 (this is a bread based on the master from ABin5, but it is the same technique for HBin5).

      Thanks, Zoë

    1. Dockside: If that flour is whole grain spelt, I’m guessing that this will be dense with storage. Unless, as you suggest, vital wheat gluten is used.

      Give it a shot! Jeff

  35. Hey Jeff & Zoe,

    Just shaped my first two loaves of the whole wheat with olive oil. Got the gluten strands, yippee. Now letting them rest before baking. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


    1. Hi Janet,

      I have never used coconut flour, but I think I should give it a try. You are the second person this week to bring it up.

      Thanks, Zoë

  36. I’m pretty fond of using loaf pans for bread ( Mom used ’em for forty some-odd years, so there you have it). Any opinions or suggestions for using cast iron loaf pans? My old, mostly worn out “nonstick” pans (and most new ones) are supposed to be utilized below 400 degrees–and I hate them for aesthetic reasons anyway. Cast iron? preheat? Moderatly preheated? Anything? Many thanks.
    BTW, my wife and I are both writers; about twenty books published by real publishers with minimal fame and painfully minimal fortune . . . hey, it’s a living. We’re quietly and entirely professionally envious as hell, but you guys rock with well deserved success. Many thanks!

    1. Hi Rick,

      20 books! Wow, you must be incredibly busy. Glad you find time to bake bread.

      I have not used the iron loaf pans, but I LOVE my iron pizza pan and I imagine that the loaf pan would work well. You will need to grease it really, really well before putting the dough in to rise. You can’t preheat the pan because you have to allow the dough to rise in it. You will have to watch that you don’t over bake the bread, since the iron will retain and conduct heat so well. Try a loaf and see what you think. Come back and let me know how it goes!

      Thanks and happy baking! Zoë

  37. Once the dough is in the refrigerator, it collapses to half what it was. Normal? Fridge too cold? I did something wrong while making the dough?

    1. Hi penny,

      Our dough rises in the bucket and then collapses and will never rise in the bucket again. In fact, most of the rise you will see happens once it is in the oven!

      Thanks, Zoë

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