Left the dough on the counter overnight! Can I still use it?

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After mixing the dough, our recipes only require two hours at room temperature for their initial rise (assuming you’ve used lukewarm water); then the container goes into the refrigerator where it can be stored for up to two weeks (depending on the recipe). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the answer to this question depends on whether or not there were eggs in the recipe. Their website says that eggs should be refrigerated after two hours at room temperature (see their website, scroll down to relevant section).

For our doughs without eggs, when we’ve occasionally forgotten a batch and left it on the counter overnight, we’ve found that this has little effect on the final result, maybe just shortens the batch life by a day or two. If you find that you aren’t getting enough rise in two hours for non-egg dough rising at room temperature, you can go longer.

So, what would USDA recommend if you’re doing a long rise with dough containing eggs? Sounds like the first two hours are safe at room temperature, then into the refrigerator to complete the rising. We leave it to our readers to decide about how to handle egg doughs in light of USDA’s recommendation.

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218 thoughts to “Left the dough on the counter overnight! Can I still use it?”

  1. I was just wondering about this question – thank you for your continued excellent posts! If I need bread in the morning, but don’t want to get up early or stay up late I’ll just leave it out overnight! I have never been more excited about making bread than now! I have been craving the wonderful bread I had in France since I visited there 3 years ago. Nothing I’ve tasted in the bakeries here – even if I’m paying $6/loaf quite reaches that pinnacle. Dissuaded by Julia Child’s time-consuming bread instruction I just haven’t found it within myself to attempt the European style loaves.
    Well last week without having to take a plane trip I got that craving fulfilled when I tried your recipe for the first time! Even though I thought I messed it up a couple times along the way it still turned out just beautifully and I haven’t been able to stop baking since! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
    I am so excited to play with this versatile and simple method!!!

    1. Beth: Another option is to start with lukewarm water just before you go to bed, and refrigerate the batch even before it starts to rise. Assuming you started with lukewarm water and used at least a tablespoon of yeast in the full batch, it will usually rise adequately overnight in the fridge. Certainly by the next afternoon or evening.

  2. I am looking for a sweet soft light dough to use for hamburger buns. Can anyone suggest something to me?

  3. I am unable to get four one pound loaves out of the basic boule recipe. The most I get is 3. I measure out the dough as directed. Can you advise?

    1. Hi Dottie,

      Yes, it makes about 3# 12-ounces of dough. This will make 4 loaves that are just shy of 1-pound. If you want larger loaves or more of them you can always double the recipe.

      Thanks! Zoe

  4. Hi – first let me say that I LOVE your books & all the wonderful bread I’ve made from them, thank you! My question – I’m just trying the banana bread from Healthy Bread and it is now in the 2 hour rise. It is much more liquid, similar to a batter. I double checked that I measured and added everything properly. Is this the right consistency?

    1. Hi Siobhan,

      No, it should have a similar consistency to our other doughs. I wonder if your bananas were particularly large or you are using a different type of flour. I assume you are using the scoop and sweep method of measuring because you said you had been baking the other breads successfully? Was your dough refrigerated overnight? It may tighten up once it chills.

      Thanks, Zoe

  5. in my family this is called “the book” we gift this to everyone we know. it is so great to have fresh bread baking and all who enter smell the beauty of it!! thank you for all the hard work….now i have 4 copies of the healthy version cuz my family loves it so much they felt they needed to find a way to reciprocate
    thank you so much!!!!

  6. With the new book out I have switched to the master whole wheat recipe most of the time. I am recently having trouble with loaves left in the fridge on cornmeal sprinkled parchment. When baked in the morning, the bread will not separate from the parchment. I have to cut it off. Not good. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Nina,

      That is odd. Did you use this same method with other loaves and not have this issue? Did you change the brand of parchment? Some brands have more of a waxy coating on them and they tend to stick more.

      You can try adding more cornmeal under the loaf, but this may change the texture. The other thing to try is a silpat, the bread will never stick to it and you can reuse it over and over again.

      Thanks! Zoë

  7. Hi

    What would be the best 5 Quart dough maker brand to make rye bread …i did a lot of looking around but read that most machines will burn out the motor douring the prosses of making rey dough
    thanks christine

    1. Hi Christine,

      We don’t use a bread machine for our method, so we can’t recommend a brand, sorry! If you want to try out our rye bread all you need is a bucket and an oven.

      Thanks, Zoë

  8. Does anyone know why my onions for the bialy’s turn pink after baking? This doesn’t happen all the time, but the last few bakings they have turned color.

    I use either white or yellow onions, saute them, add the salt, pepper & poppy seeds & leave them in the pan in 1 tbsp piles until I am ready to fill the bialy. The taste is OK but the color looks strange.

    Also, do you have a suggestion as to “assembly line” bialy making. I can only cook 7 at a time & usually have one pan raising while one is cooking. But it gets confusing. Can the bialys be made to a certain point & then put in the fridge until ready to be filled & baked?

    I love the recipes in your book and the bialys (which I can’t buy locally) are a great hit with everyone who has tried them. My friends think I should open a “bialy shop”

    Thanks for your help – Carole

    1. Carole: I’m at a complete loss for the pink color. Readers: has anyone else seen this?

      About your assembly line, yes, using the fridge slows down the rising and proofing, but not completely. If you leave it long enough, they’ll fully rise and you may find that you lose the shape-definition. Jeff

    2. Hi Carole,

      What a fantastic question. I suspect that is has something to do with the type of pan you are using to cook the onions. Certain metals will react to certain foods. According to the food scientist Harold McGee cooking some foods in iron, aluminum or tin can cause the discoloration. Let me know if this sounds like it may be the cause.

      Thank you for trying the bialy recipe, it is one of my favorites!

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. Jeff & Zoe,

    Thanks for answering so quickly. I had actually considered a “pan reaction” causing the color change. I have been using an anodized aluminum pan, but next time I bake will try a stainless steel pan.

    Also, I will try taking the onions out of the pan & put them on a plate while waiting to fill the bialy to see if that makes a difference.

    Since my freezer is stocked for a while, I’ll probably get back to you in a few weeks, but I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I’ll check back to see if anyone else has any ideas about the color change.

    Jeff – would you just weigh out the dough into 3 oz balls & leave them in balls in the fridge, or would you actually pat them out into 3″ circles & refrigerate? How long would you say they would stay in the fridge before starting to rise?

    Of course one answer generates another question…if you wouldn’t mind answering?

    Since I’m doing say 2-3 dozen biyali’s, 7 at a time, can I bake each batch on clean parchment paper (putting the parchment paper on my baking tiles. I’m thinking I won’t have to brush the flour off the baking tiles after each baking and it won’t be getting on the floor of the oven & burning. Parchment paper OK?

    Thanks again & I will let you know the results of my next bialy experiment.


    1. Hi Carole,

      Let me know how the stainless steel works out.

      You can form the disks, set them on parchment and let them rest, covered with plastic in the refrigerator. Something this small will start to rise after an hour or two of refrigerator rise.

      If you want them in the morning you can form them in the evening and let them rest overnight in the refrigerator. They will be ready to bake when you get up. Just load them up with the onions and then bake once the oven is preheated.

      Parchment is wonderful and will save you lots of cleanup.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  10. Thanks, Zoe – will let you know next baking if the stainless worked. Yea, parchment!!! You just saved me a ton of clean-up.


  11. What about sourdough? Here in Alaska it
    is popular fare. Can I just splash some into one of the bread dough recipes (and cut back on water)?

  12. I just bought your book ABin5 a couple of weeks ago and I’ve already made more than a dozen batches. I am working through the book trying all the different recipes. All have worked without fail, but not only are they easy, but they taste incredible. Tonight I did stumble into a problem. I made the Soft American-Style White Bread. I mixed up the batch in the morning and wasn’t able to get back to it until late this evening. I have read that you can even leave the batches overnight and they still will be fine, but the smell of the was very off, almost vinegar. Any ideas? FYI I substituted honey for the sugar.

    1. Paula: Honey’s not the problem; it just over-fermented. There’s nothing unsafe about the bread, but it may not be to your liking. I’d bake some off; if you hate it, you’ll have to just start over again. Jeff

  13. Yep, about what I’d have expected. If it continues to go too sour, could use as a “seed” for the next batch, jump-starting sourdough flavor on Day zero. Don’t use more than about a cup in this way; just mix it in with the liquids. Jeff

  14. I started w/first book and was thrilled making bagettes/boules. However I don’t much like white flour. I started w/2nd Master Recipe and dough was much heavier and too wet. I added flour, then too dense. Next day I took out dough-smelled like cherries!! It wasa shock so threw away dough. Could I substitute 1/2 c unbl.white for some of ww in master recipe?

    1. Hi Ruth,

      It sounds like you would like the recipe for Peasant bread on page 46. There are others in the peasant bread chapter that also have a portion of whole grains. If you are interested in even more whole grains you would probably prefer Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which is dedicated to very healthy breads.

      The problem with substituting whole wheat flour for the white is that they absorb different amounts of water and the dough will not turn out well.

      Thanks and enjoy all the bread! Zoë

  15. oops! I was using HB5. Made the dough again yesterday KAF AP+WW. Added 1/4 c water which I read on blog b/c high protein. Tonight the dough was pretty wet, so much so I didn’t have to cut the dough I pulled. There’s good gluten strands, left it on peel for 2 hrs and still feels wet and cold. Maybe I need to let sit til tomorrow? What am I doing wrong? My first MR hb5 was also too wet and I hadn’t added any water. Should I start decreasing water? By how much? Thanks! Your help is really appreciated.

    1. Hi Ruth,

      With the whole grain recipes we add vital wheat gluten, which creates a flour that is closer to KAF. This means you don’t have to add more water to the dough. Adding more water is only true with the all white flour doughs from ABin5. You will probably need to add more flour to your dough to get it to the right consistency.

      Are you measuring the flour with the scoop and sweep method? If you are spooning the flour into the measuring cup you will end up with too little flour.

      Hope this helps, Zoë

  16. Jeff &Zoe, I have tried several times to make the Whole Wheat master recipe from your new book. First time it was too wet and didn’t rise and was very flat and heavy. Yesterday i tried again and increased the flour by 1/2 cup and it turned out great. I will have to make a bigger loaf next time. This loaf didn’t even last 30 minutes ( i did let it cool first) before it was gone. I lived in Angano, Italy for 3 years and enjoyed fresh bread daily. So I am excited that I have been successful with your method. Can’t wait for your next book.

  17. I’ve been enjoying healthy breads for about 8 months now, and have experimented a bit increasing the basic recipes in order to make two, slightly larger loaves at a time. I blew it the last time and created a much too slack dough, and have worked more flour in, but don’t know what you mean by “‘give it some time to ferment.” I expect to proceed when I see it rise somewhat, since I don’t expect your reply immediately, but would appreciate your guidance in case I goof again.

    1. Two hours at room temp should do it Cliff, but remember it’ll be doing a long rest in the fridge, so if you’re not baking it off today, you can go shorter. Jeff

  18. Hello!

    Oh, this is great, since I have a question I’ve really wanted to ask! Hope you are able to answer me. I always make a traditional scandinavian sweet yeast dough with raisins, the night before christmas day, and leave it in a bowl on the counter overnight, so I can just roll it into buns and put in the oven pretty quickly the morning after. The dough rises well, is light and has a great consistency once it comes out of the oven, but there is quite a distinct yeast- almost beer-like- flavor to it, and that never occurs if I just let it rise for an hour or so during the day. I always use cold water, and leave the dough in room temperature(for approximately 9 hours, until the morning after). Should I decrease the amount of yeast, or put the dough in the fridge? Or do you have any other tips?

    I’m really grateful!
    Best regards, Caroline.

    1. Caroline: Overnight fermentation will promote a sourdough effect (some people describe it as beer-like), which is what we go for in our long-stored refrigerated dough– you just might not like it for this particular loaf. But yes, a refrigerator rise might solve your problem (see https://artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=141 and scroll down halfway), or decreasing the yeast (go to our FAQs page above and select “Yeast, can it be decreased in our recipes?”). One of those (or both) might help, but be aware that low yeast PLUS the fridge might mean too long a time will be required to rise. Jeff

  19. I mixed the Gluten free Olive Oil Bread last night and forgot to put it in the fridge. I see here that you say it’s fine to use doughs that have been left out – but what about the ones with eggs in them?
    I really appreciate your response!
    And by the way – thanks for the Gluten free recipes!

    1. Hi Jill,

      In general we suggest that the doughs made with eggs should not be risked. Just to be on the safe side I would advise starting over. If it makes you feel any better, I have done this more times than I’d like to admit!

      Thanks! Zoë

  20. I was thrilled to learn of your breadmaking technique last year, through “Mother Earth” magazine. I have a hard time ever getting 4 loaves from the recipe – maybe 2 largers ones. Can’t seem to get the baking time & temperature correct and loaves often come out wet, gummy & very fermented tasting. Any suggestions for baking? Love your bread!

    1. Hi Beverly,

      We are thrilled that you are baking the bread. Let us try to help you get a loaf that you love. When you increase the size of the loaf you need to let it rest longer before baking and let it bake longer. If you are baking 2-pound loaves then you will want to allow the dough to rest about 30-45 minutes longer and bake an additional 15 minutes. This will somewhat depend on the type of dough you are working with and the temperature of your kitchen.

      You may also find it helpful to look at some of these posts: https://artisanbreadinfive.com/?page_id=1479

      Thanks, Zoë

  21. Will arrowroot powder work as well as cornstarch in the gluten-free olive oil bread? Would the amount be different? (In case I turn out to be allergic to corn.)

    1. Marsha: Haven’t tested with arrowroot powder so just don’t know! We’ve found that these are a bit more temperamental than wheat breads, as far as swapping goes. Let us know how you make out with your experiments.

  22. Hi! I just got your book as a gift and I am so excited to get started. I am looking for a dough storage container that is BPA free, but I haven’t been able to find one. Is it possible to store the dough in a glass canister in the refrigerator?
    Thanks so much!

  23. Hi. This is a wonderful reciepe. I love baking bread but have always been unsuccessful in having it rise. My question: do you have to wait overnight before using the dough? Can you use the dough after a 2-3 hour rest after mixing? I am trying the sourdough tonight.

    1. Hi David,

      Which recipe are you using? Most you can use after rising for 2 hours, but some require some time in the refrigerator.

      Thanks, Zoe

  24. I just made a batch of your wheat master dough recipe from your video. What I was wondering is this: I would like to take out a loafs worth on Sunday morning before we leave for church but it would be about 3 hours before we return home. Would that be too long to have the loaf sit and rest before baking? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Vicki,

      You may be better off setting the loaf up the night before and letting it rise overnight in the refrigerator. Then you can preheat the oven and bake it when you return from church.

      1. set the loaf on a piece of parchment, cover loosely with plastic and refrigerate.

      2. The next day preheat the oven when you are ready to bake. Set the loaf on the counter to rest as the oven preheats.

      3. Bake as normal.

      Thanks, Zoë

  25. Thanks Zoe. I guess I better stick to my old fashioned bread making and baking though. Every thing looked great at first. When mixing my dough ingredients last night it was too dry which always happens when I make dough so I added additional warm water. It rose wonderfully with lots of air bubbles and looked great. When I took it out of the fridge today and went to pull out my ball of dough it was far too wet, it had no stretchiness as you demonstrate but rather just pulled off a clump. Using flour I handled it as little as possible and was able to form a ball which I shaped into a small loaf. I let it sit but it did not rise at all but did spread out a little bit. I’m preheating the oven and stone now and we’ll see what we come out with. I appreciate the new technique and I’ll try again sometime. Thanks!

  26. Actually it came out pretty well. My husband enjoyed it a lot. I’m posting the pics I took of the process on the facebook site.

  27. Vicki: So glad to hear that it worked out, thanks for sticking with it. I think as you become more and more experienced, you won’t be thrown by the differences with stored dough. Visit anytime w/questions. Jeff

  28. Hi guys! I’ve never made bread before and was really pumped to get your book (HB in 5).

    I wanted to make sandwich breads, so I tried the hearty whole wheat sandwich bread first. It rose quite a bit on the counter but had nearly no “oven spring” that I read about, so in the end the loaf was really flat though the flavor was good. Would this have anything to do with the measurement of flour (my measuring cups dont allow for the method described because they aren’t flat on top) or perhaps the brand of wheat gluten i’m using? The texture of the dough seemed to be correct though, wet but still elastic.

    Second time I did this with the remaining dough I filled the loaf pan a bit higher, but still no oven spring. In fact there was a strong alcohol-ish smell/taste, does this mean it has overfermented? Is there any way to avoid this?

    Thanks 🙂 Am still excited to try out all the stuff in the book, it has a wonderful concept 🙂

    1. Elle: First problem sounds like measurement– you can’t use cups where it’s not possible to sweep across the top. Are you using liquid measuring cups? Won’t work accurately.

      Which of the recipes are you trying (what page from the book)? Jeff

  29. Hello again! I was just using the Master Recipe from Healthy Bread in Five, 2 pounds to bake a sandwich loaf.

    Yes I’m sure it was the problem with the measuring cups now, thank you so much! I got a new, proper set and it worked wonderfully, the dough rose so high for the first 2 hour rest! And there WAS oven spring, my loaf is nearly twice the height of the previous one 🙂

    Just another question (Sorry I’m new at this!) I underbaked the loaf (only baked it slightly more than 30 minutes instead of the suggested 45) because the crust seemed to be getting really hard, and I didn’t want that for sandwich breads. After letting it cool, I sliced a piece and the inside was really gummy and even a bit too moist/wet, so I popped it back in the oven for another 5 minutes. The inside was slightly better but then the crust was even crispier. Any suggestions on how to avoid this?

    Should I lower the temperature for baking? Thanks so much!

  30. Elle: Terrific– have you tested your oven temperature with an inexpensive thermometer like https://bit.ly/czmco2

    When the crust overbakes but the inside’s gummy, that’s the usual explanation.

    But I have to tell you– when you’re getting used to the method, it’s easier and more predictable to make one-pounders. Hold off on the big ones till you get familiar with how your oven performs for the small ones. Could also vary the shelf you place it on– high shelf speeds browning of the crust, low shelf speeds baking for the bottom. Jeff

  31. Hello there – stumbled across your book and have been reading cover to cover.

    I’ve tried two breads – the Whole Wheat Mixed Berry Bread and the Milk & Honey Raisin Bread and both have been very dense. As I haven’t tried all the recipes yet, I’m not sure if the bread is supposed to be the same texture as traditional baking or if they all have a similar texture to sourdough.

    Also, is it okay to let it sit more than 2 hours after mixing all ingredients? Does it make a difference if room temperature is too cool or too warm?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Rebecca: Cool room extends the time for initial rise (and post-shape resting), warm the opposite. Sounds like your taste is for a lighter, fluffier result, so try a longer resting time after shaping and see what you think, but see our “Dense Crumb” FAQ, click on the link above.

      It’s OK to let sit more than two hours, though we say that two hrs is the max for eggs in the dough, then finish the rise in the fridge (may take 24 hours though). Jeff

  32. Hi. just got your book! I bake jim laheys nk method. haven’t tried yours yet. does anyone freeze this bread after its baked or does it have to be consumed immediately?

    1. Hi Sandy,

      Thanks for giving our method a try.

      You can freeze the bread, but we prefer to bake as much as you need and eat it fresh. Baking daily is our goal, but we understand this isn’t always realist! 😉

      Thanks, Zoë

  33. Zoe, thank you! I bake daily and give most of them away. I freeze them and give them right from the freezer and just wondered if they are as good after being frozen. I have not tried it myself yet to know. also, can you do your method with parmesan and olives, or does the recipe have to be tweaked a little? Love the book!

  34. Sandy: No breads are as good frozen as they were fresh, and ours is no exception. About olives and cheese in the breads, check out our olive bread, and our Vermont Cheddar bread in the 1st book, or any of the cheese breads in the 2nd book (see the index for the list). Jeff

  35. Hi,I am SO excited to have your method. I have carpal tunnel and can’t knead traditional recipes. I made your Artisan… rye for the first time and have some questions:
    1. why doesn’t it taste like rye bread Could it be because I used light rye flour?
    2. A grapefruit sized piece of dough baked up into a very small loaf. Did I do something wrong?
    3. I read in some of your answers that you have adjusted times and temps from your 1st book to your second. Is there a site where you list these changes?
    4. When you say a ‘not air tight’ cover on the refrigerator container does that mean i leave a gap between the cover and the container?

    1. Thrilled: Nothing wrong with light rye, though it yields a wetter dough. Not sure what you’re missing in the flavor, but I bet it’s sourdough– that will develop as the dough stores. But there are lots of ryes in our books– which book, and which recipe are you using (page number would help)? A one-pounder is small for some, just make it bigger to be closer to the size of store-bought breads. May have to increase baking time if thicker or it will be doughy on the inside.

      Times, temps etc., do vary when you switch to whole grains; that’s all in the 2nd book, not on the website.

      And yes, do leave a gap (slight), esp in the first 48 hours of storage.

  36. HI! I commented some time ago and am here to report that my sandwich breads are getting way better! They’re taller and less dense now 🙂

    A question about another loaf I want to try, the Sweet Potato & Spelt Bread (Pg 177 of HB in 5) If I wanted to bake the loaf in a loaf pan so it would be sort of more like a sandwich bread (and have a softer, sandwich-bread like crust), what adjustments should I make? Would baking at a lower temp for a longer time and not using the steam work?

    Also, it’s my first time baking with spelt so I wanted to ask if I should expect the same kind of rise as baking with whole wheat flour? Will the texture of the bread be denser? AND, is spelt flour interchangeable with whole wheat flour in your recipes?

    Thank you!!!

    1. Elle: Depending on the size of the loaf pan, you may not need to adjust at all. Generally, the mini-loaf pans need no adjustment (like on Amazon https://amzn.to/dZmLMS). One-pound of dough in a small loaf pan (https://tinyurl.com/c826ua), maybe just a little longer. Big ones– all bets are off, longer time for lower temp is a good option.

      The steam just changes the crust, use it or not, it doesn’t change the baking time/temp.

      Spelt behaves similarly to WW, though it absorbs water a little differently. If you swap it directly for WW, it’ll generally be too loose to use outside of a loaf pan– for free-form, decrease the water (1/4 cup?). Jeff

  37. Dear Jeff/Zoe,

    Can you make Breadsticks from your first book Artisan Bread in Five and use the same directions from the Healthy Bread in Five for the recipe for Breadsticks in that book. Thank you for your help. Looking forward to your new book.

  38. Reading the posts and answers is SO informative. Thought I’d add to the knowledge base. I’ve made the whole wheat brioche, and as usual left the loaf rising too long on the counter. I picked up what I could, and put it on top of the loaf, then baked it. I always use a long narrow thermometer to test doneness of bread, and this loaf took a bit longer. When it was done, I picked up the pieces of dough that had over flowed onto the lower rack where I store my oven stone, and was going to throw them out, but the smell was so good that I took a nibble. Well my husband and I ate the whole bunch of dropped dough pieces. The brioche loaf was really dense, but reading these blogs shows me why. I now plan to place all raising dough within eye sight as I can’t seem to remember to check on the bread. And even the dense brioche is delicious.

    1. Susan: Or consider the refrigerator rise trick, which works with brioche too. See our FAQs page and click on “Dense Crumb…” Jeff

  39. I made the 100% whole wheat dough last night and refrigerated it after the 2 hour rise. I took out a loaf today and have had it sitting on the peel for the 90 minutes. I had just enough time to bake it before work, but I forgot to pre-bake my oven!! So is it okay to leave it on the pizza peel for a total of 6 1/2 hours instead? I want to bake it as soon as I get home!!

    1. Hi Ashley,

      It is best to let the dough rest for that long in the refrigerator and not at room temperature. Just shape it, put it on parchment, cover it loosely with plastic, and let it rest while you are at work.

      Hope this helps!


  40. I’ve been using the master recipes from both your first and second book and have a question: After the initial rise and fall can I transfer the dough into a smaller container? The 6-quart one takes up way too much room in my small refrigerator. Thanks in advance for your reply!

  41. Hi Zoë,

    I have another question for your. I would like to make the Vollkornbrot from your ‘Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes’ book but can’t find rye flakes in our town. What would be a good substitute? Oat flakes?


    1. Julia: If it were me I’d probably just replace with a little more rye flour (and adjust water if necessary), but I like your idea better. Jeff

      1. Hi Jeff,

        Thanks for your prompt response. I will try the oats then. I’ve never seen rye flakes… should I try regular or quick cook oats?

        Thanks for all the wonderful recipes!


  42. Hello again!

    The bread baking is going well – I haven’t bought any bread since I got your book!

    Here is the one thing I struggle with: I have a hard time slashing the dough properly. I’ve tried a plain sharp knife, a serrated one, a wet one, I floured the surface of the dough… nothing helps to get a nice deep cut. This happens with all recipes. Any ideas?



    1. Julia: Are you cutting straight down, with the knife edge completely at right angles to the dough surface? Any chance your dough’s too wet (like when using bleached flour)? Serrated’s the way to go, make a quick deep cut.

      I think floured sticks less but that’s not doing it for you…

      1. Thanks for your prompt reply. Yes, I am cutting straight down. I never use bleached flour, mostly all whole wheat or at least a high percentage of whole wheat. Do you think a special razor blade (lame) would make a difference. Yes, I always think that my dough is too wet but I follow the recipes exactly (using a scale with grams). I am worried that using less water will mess up the recipe.

      2. Hi Julia,

        What brand of flour are you using? Some brands have less protein than others and will result in a wetter dough.

        Typically we’ve found that a knife works better than the lame, but if you have one give it a try.

        Thanks, Zoë

  43. Hi Zoë,

    I am using Trader Joe’s White Whole Wheat, King Arthur Unbleached and Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Flour.

    To be honest, I am not really sure how wet the dough is supposed to feel/look. I noticed that I don’t have to cut it off like you do either, it mostly rips off when I lift a piece of dough out of the bucket. The finished product is great, I just like to slash it deeper.

    Less water or more flour? How much?


  44. Julia: If it’s just ripping off, first question– are you increasing the proportion of whole grain? That will do that.

    Otherwise, sounds like you need a little more water so that it will pull out of the bucket like ours. I hesitate, because you like the result you get (except for the slashing problem).

    May just be a matter of technique?

  45. I’ve never baked a cookie. I accidentally stumbled upon yr website and was so excited about baking bread. Do I need to use a baking stone for bread? Can I just use a baking tray with a parchment paper to place my dough?
    My dough doesn’t seem to brown. My bread gets very hard on the next day. So far my bread is fm the oven to the dustbin. But I’m still going to try. Can you help me improve?

    1. Hi Alice,

      Are you baking from our books, or are your loaves from traditional recipes. Let us know which recipe of ours you are working with and we can try to help!

      Thanks, Zoë

  46. I made some Challah bread from ABin5 for the first time yesterday. It wasn’t rising (after 2 hours) but I realized my house was pretty cool so I put in in my oven which was only slightly warm. However, I remembered it this morning. I make the master recipe all the time. I have left the master recipe out over night with no problems but I didn’t know if the eggs in the Challah bread could cause problems. Should I throw it out and start over or do you think it’s okay?

    1. Heather: According to the USDA, eggs should be refrigerated after two hours. Can’t comment beyond that, they’re a pretty conservative organization…

      1. That was kind of my thought. That and who wants to be sick so I dumped it and started over. At least it’s easy to remake! I would have been more upset if I had spent hours mixing, watching it raise etc.

        Can’t wait to try it this morning though!


  47. So, it’s ok to leave it out over night… what about for days? Will it spoil? Mine has been out for 2 days now and smells stronger of a sour dough and is slightly wetter. Can I just sprinkle flour on it and still bake it? Or is it bad at this point? Is there a dough that I can leave out and not refrigerate?

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      Unfortunately, mold likes to form in warm environments, so it is best to keep the dough chilled. If the room is quite cool and you see no signs of molding, it may be ok to use, but I always err on the side of caution.

      Thanks, Zoë

  48. Hi guys — Love this book! But a quick question concerning the instructions. There’s no room in our refrigerator for storing dough, so I typically make half of one of your recipes and bake it at the end of the 2-hour time frame. Here’s my question though. Does the dough, once shaped, require the additional resting time you specify in your book even where I’m not using refrigerated dough and the dough has just spent the last 2 hours rising? I’ve assumed that the additional resting time is only necessary when the dough has been stored, but my loaves have been a little dense. Thanks!

    1. Hi Dean,

      Once you handle the dough, even if it is fresh, you need to let it rest again before baking it. The resting time for fresh dough is shorter. Which recipe are you working with?

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Thanks for the clarification, Zoe! I usually make the Boule, the Peasant Loaf, the Challah, or the Olive Bread, but I plan to make the Baguette for the first time this weekend. Thoughts?

      2. Hi Dean,

        In most all of our recipes we give a resting time for chilled dough and then another time for fresh, unrefrigerated dough. The rule of thumb is to cut the resting time by about half.

        Thanks, Zoë

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