Baking Flatbreads on a Frozen Minnesota Lake… or, shaping flatbreads is easier with whole grain dough

Well, I had the best of intentions–  really did mean to do a skillet-baked bread on a frozen lake right here in Minneapolis.  It works perfectly, er, in the summer.  On dry land.

As you can see, I ran into technical difficulties with my Coleman stove.  Something about the temperature.  Welcome to my winter.

So, back into the kitchen we went, where I decided to bake the flatbreads.  In an oven.  We’d toted along whole grain dough from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and as you can see in the video, one real advantage of whole grain dough is that it yields to flattening very, very easily.  If you’re going to try your hand at a pita or pizza without using a rolling pin, this is the dough to try it with (or even our 100% whole wheat dough).  Whole grain doughs are lower in gluten than white-flour doughs, and in addition, the tiny jagged flakes of bran serve to cut the gluten strands as they form.  As much as gluten is necessary, it can really slow you down when you’re trying to form a flatbread or pizza.

The more pizza you bake, the faster spring will come.  Or something like that?

44 thoughts to “Baking Flatbreads on a Frozen Minnesota Lake… or, shaping flatbreads is easier with whole grain dough”

  1. I’ve been making different flatbreads with your dough lately. They’ve made for some comforting meals when I haven’t felt like eating a heavy dinner. Yummy!

  2. I got your book for chrismas and love it. But I am in need of high altitude help! My dough balloons to three times it’s size within a half hour but during baking it doesn’t rise at all. How do I go from doughy and small to holey and risen?? Thanks from Utah!!

  3. I’ve been making the Algerian flatbread from your healthy breads book, but instead of frying it in oil I’ve been baking it like regular flatbread. The whole wheat dough with olive oil bakes up the nicest, I tried that this weekend and it was delicious. I think I baked it at around 400 degrees until the bread started browning on its highest points. Yum!

    1. Too funny, Kristina, got in on a bicycle trip in Norway in 1991, it’s Dale of Norway. I think they export them?

      Jumper, eh? You must be in the UK?

  4. Loving your books! I made first batch of dough yesterday and baked one loaf for dinner. The bread got serious “thumbs up” from my four kids. I had so much fun watching them eat. My youngest (3) had to work her little teeth on the crispy crust, but finished her piece with a big smile! The middle two (8 & 10) discussed what would be better, butter or strawberry jam! My oldest (15) asked if he could try his hand at making this bread, so I let him form another loaf right after dinner! We are all looking forward to trying the next recipe!

    Thanks for all your work!

  5. So that’s what a frozen Minnesota lake looks like? And you can sit in a chair on it? “Cool.”

    Thanks for braving the cold to try it.

  6. Hi. I have your Healthy book, and have just received my Cambro 6-qt round containers for the dough. I wasn’t able to find this question on your site, and don’t know if you’re willing to comment on a specific product, but… Judging from the many comments on, there are a fair many users of your books that believe these containers are not airtight, and many others who claim they are and have drilled holes in the cover. Could you please comment on whether I should drill holes? Thank you very much. -Tim

    1. Hi Tim,

      I was the one to start the drilling, after the lid of one of these buckets blew clear off! It requires just the tiniest hole, but it saves a lot of trouble and allows the dough to breath.

      Thanks, Zoë

  7. Jeff,
    Big fan of your books from the Ely area. I’ve not tried baking any of your bread in the woods, though, we did take several varieties to the border on Knife Lake in early January.
    What prompted my comment was the inability of your standard Coleman to function in cold temperatures. Try using some petroleum jelly or fire start paste. Squeeze a line on the length of the fuel lines and some around the burners. Burn it for a minute and then light the stove while the paste is still going. This is one of the “sure-fire” methods for warming up the classic Coleman in any temperature. We did this January at -27 f but I’ve had success down to -40 as well.
    You’ve inspired me to try baking in the wilderness next January!

    1. Well yes, I cannot tell a lie. It was Lake Harriet, known to all as the finest baking lake in the world. The entire world.


  8. The other night I made one whole wheat, cheeseless, vegan pizza, and one white, traditional pizza. As you say, the whole wheat is a lot easier to roll!

  9. I have my Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book on my Kindle so I don’t know what page it is….

    Here’s my dilemma:

    I’m making both the whole wheat master recipe as well as the whole wheat with olive oil. Both are excellent but when I’ve doubled the dough (this is now our daily bread 🙂 ), the dough turns a very strange color on top. I cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap. It gets very dark/gray brown. I’ve still used it and the inside of it is the normal color, but it does make a discolored loaf and doesn’t appear to be going bad. It’s also been within the timeframe of a week and a half or so. What could be up?


  10. Help! I just made a batch of the gluten free crusty boule dough and realized after baking the first loaf that the dough is too wet. Can the rest of the dough be saved? It tastes good and the texture is pretty good too but I was hoping for a slice of bread I could toast. not just a flat round cake that I haveto cut into wedges.

    1. Just add a little more of the flour mixture for that recipe until it’s more to your liking. May not retain rising power with storage quite as well.

      Allow to rest at room temp for two hrs after adding flours. Jeff

  11. I have an unrelated question. I am wanting to bake two or more loaves at once in my oven. Do I need to increase the water for steam? And the time for the bread?

    1. Caley: Shouldn’t need to, certainly not the water. If loaves look underdone, give them five min more time and check again. Jeff

  12. I want to bake some of the recipes in the “Healthy Bread book because my family doesn’t eat white flour.

    Is it possible to freeze the dough instead of just keeping it in the fridge? We are a small family and freezing would allow me to make more varieties of breads without the dange of spoilage.

    1. Hi Brooke,

      Our Pizza and Flatbread book comes out this fall, but should be available for pre-order in a few months. We’ll keep you posted when we find out!

      More videos to come!

      Thanks, Zoë

  13. Hi!

    I have a basic whole wheat dough that has sat in my fridge for just under two weeks. I have noticed that the top of the dough is darker and a bit crusty compared to the rest of the dough. Is this normal? I usually use up my dough in the first week so I an not sure how keeping it in the fridge for a second week affects the dough

  14. My gluten free crusty boule recipe did not turn out! I may have to blame it on the use of guar gum instead of xanthum gum as I am allergic to xanthum gum. If you would have time I wish you would do some research into making gluten free bread with guar gum. On a side note, this recipe might work if I omit the refrigeration step and shape it right after the first rest, let it rise the 90 minutes and then bake it.

    1. Hi Colleen,

      I have been meaning to try the guar gum. If you try this without the refrigeration, you can also try to shape it right after mixing and just giving it one 2 hour rest. Try a small loaf and see if this helps?

      Thanks, Zoë

  15. I love the european peaant bread! I don’t have a baking stone yet. Iam using steam, but the crust is still too soft. Ant suggetions untill I get a stone?

    1. Hi L,

      Neither of us has tried it yet! Many people have inquired, but we just haven’t had a chance to work on it. Please let us know if you give it a try!

      Thanks, Zoë

  16. Hi guys! I just got your book Healthy Bread in 5 and am dying to try out the method! My question is that I have a grain mill and grind my own flour so I am wondering what recipe to use? I have tried using my bread maker to make bread using fresh ground hard red wheat, but the loaves do not seem to rise very much. They taste good, but are very heavy and dense. I really want to try HBin5 but am not sure if my fresh whole grain flour will work where the recipes call for whole wheat flour. Any recommendations?

    1. Hi Amanda,

      The issue with grinding your own flour is that it is not as fine as commercial and doesn’t form gluten as well. This means it doesn’t have the structure to tap the gas from the yeast and won’t rise as well. You can try adding more Vital Wheat Gluten to make up for the lack of protein.

      Thanks, Zoë

  17. WOA BROA!
    I made a batch of Broa dough from ABIN5 and my wife made pulled pork buns with it. They were awesome.
    The dough, pulled pork, and some cheese also made great pizza. The kids gobbled both.

  18. How do I make cinnamon rolls with the brioche dough in the artisan book?Also is there away I could do them the night before so I can just bake them the next morning?If not it’s okay.

    1. Hi Brooke,

      It is going to be one of the next posts that I do. You can experiment by using the pecan sticky bun recipe, but just bake them on a cookie sheet, not in the cake pan with the caramel on the bottom.

      Thanks, Zoë

  19. I’m embarrassed, but I left the brule dough (freshly mixed) to rise, and I forgot about it. It was on the counter at about 75 degrees for 9 hours. It smells fruity/yeasty, but I guess I don’t know how it would smell if it was bad. Have you guys tested any dough after the 5 hours recommended in the book? I’m hoping it’s safe….?

    Thank you,


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