Master Recipe from “New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” using Vital Wheat Gluten!

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(The pictures in this post are by Stephen Scott Gross, who did the photography For New Healthy Bread in Five).

When we first wrote Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day in 2007 we were immediately asked how to convert the recipes to whole grains. We knew then that we’d be writing another book to satisfy the appetite for healthier breads. We also discovered gluten-free flours and developed our first breads made with them. The book answered a lot of questions and concerns about eating whole grains, but since 2009, when it first came out, we’ve learned even more. Our readers have become curious about ancient grains, baking with sourdough starter and they wanted even more 100% whole wheat. Well, we got the opportunity to create a new edition of the book and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Revised and Updated with New Recipes.

The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

We’ve added more photos to inspire you and make baking easier, all the recipes are in cup measures and weights, since we love baking with a scale and we’ve added charts for different kinds of flour, since there are so many on the market to choose from. There is a vast chapter of tips and techniques, but we are always available here on the website for your questions. Here’s a summary of what’s new in the new edition:

  • Using sourdough starter as a leavening agent: for the first time in any of our books, we give instructions on creating your own starter and then using it as the leavening agent for homemade bread. Yeast bakers still have our original instructions as well.
  • Weight equivalents for every dough recipe. Weighing’s more accurate and it’s catching on in the U.S. We’ve really made leaps and strides as a baking country since 2007 (when our first book was launched), because inexpensive digital scales have become available everywhere.
  • Versions and options for omitting vital wheat gluten: Some of our readers asked us how they could omit this from the recipes in the original Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day—which all called for added gluten. We’ve done that for the Master Recipe, and given some rules of thumb for doing it for the rest of the book as well (it’s a water adjustment).
  • Using offbeat or ancient grains like spelt, Kamut (khorasan), and sprouted wheat:We give rules of thumb for water adjustment when you use alternatives to standard supermarket whole grain flours.
  • Other new ingredients that have started appearing in American pantries:Coconut and flaxseed oils work great in our recipes calling for oil.
  • A gluten-free chapter: It has all the favorites from the book’s first edition, based on positive feedback from readers.

Now let’s dive into our Master Recipe, which didn’t change much, because it works so well and it is a great place to start for people who aren’t used to baking with whole grains.  With whole grain baking you need more water, and one extra ingredient called Vital Wheat Gluten (sometimes labeled “vital wheat gluten flour”), which is available in most supermarkets, or mail-order/on-line from anywhere…

Whole grains can make for a drier results; all that bran soaks up water.  So we increased the water for all the new recipes.  But that was only part of it.  We found that boosting the gluten content with vital wheat gluten increased the amount of time we can store the dough. Storing the dough is why our recipes are different from all others and makes baking so fast. Vital wheat gluten makes whole grain dough springy enough to be stored in the refrigerator as a large batch. We also offer a version without vital wheat gluten in the book for those who prefer not to use it or can’t find it.

What is vital wheat gluten?  It’s the protein-rich part of wheat that creates the strands that trap gas bubbles and allow yeasted bread to rise (and stay risen).  It doesn’t take much vital wheat gluten to make a difference in a 4 to 5 pound batch of whole grain dough.  Just 2 to 4 tablespoons are all you need, so while the whole bag or box may seem expensive, it doesn’t add much to the cost of baking.

So where do you get vital wheat gluten? Most supermarkets in larger towns and cities carry it.  The two brands in U.S. supermarkets are Bob’s Red Mill and Hodgson Mill, and we tested those extensively.  If your local store doesn’t carry vital wheat gluten, you can mail-order it from Amazon; click for either the Bob’s Red Mill product, or the Hodgson Mill product (you can also order directly from those companys’ websites).  Amazon carries other vital wheat gluten brands but we’ve never tried them.

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Master recipe from The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day:

There are many, many more details are in the book, along with plenty of recipes that are 100% whole grain; this recipe is about 73% whole grain:

Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups (750g) whole wheat flour – This is based on Gold Medal Flour, but we have a chart in the book so you can easily bake with King Arthur, Bob’s Red Mill, Sprouted Wheat, Kamut, Einkorn, Spelt or Hodgson Mill.

2 cups (300g) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon (10g) granulated yeast – can decreaseYou can use any kind of yeast including: instant, “quick,” rapid rise, bread machine, or a ctive dry. We’ve always tested with Red Star Yeast and they have a new premium product called PLATINUM, which has worked beautifully in our recipes. You can also decrease the amount of yeast in the recipe by following the directions here. Or you can bake with a sour dough starter, see instructions here.)

1 tablespoon (15g) Kosher salt – can adjust to taste or health concerns

1/4 cup (40g) vital wheat gluten (or vital wheat gluten flour) – Here is a version without vital wheat gluten

4 cups (910g) lukewarm water (about 100°F)

1 to 2 tablespoons of whole seed mixture for sprinkling on top crust:  sesame, flaxseed, caraway, raw sunflower, poppy, and or anise

To make the dough:

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First, measure the dry ingredients into a 6-Quart Round Container or bowl, and whisk them together (you can also use a fork, or if it’s lidded, just shake them well).  Mixing the dry ingredients first prevents the vital wheat gluten from forming clumps once liquids are added.

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Add the water to form a wet dough and mix with a Danish Dough Whisk or wooden spoon.

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Don’t add additional flour to dry this out. It should be wet and shaggy.

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Cover loosely (leave lid open a crack) or you can piece a small hole in the lid, as you see above. Allow to rise for two hours at room temperature (if you decreased the yeast, you’ll need more time).  NEVER PUNCH DOWN.  The dough will rise and then begin to collapse.  Refrigerate and use over the next 14 days, tearing off one-pound loaves as you need them.

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On baking day, cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough (about a pound), using a serrated knife or a Kitchen Shears.

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Quickly shape a loaf as you’ve seen in our videos on this website.

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It should take less than a minute— you pull the top around to the bottom, rotating quarter-turns as you go.  DON’T KNEAD or otherwise knock all the gas out of the loaf.

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Cover the loaf loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest on a pizza peel covered with cornmeal or parchment for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough.)   Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise and it may spread out. The bottom loaf in the photo is just after shaping and then the one above it has rested and is ready for baking. Our loaves depend more on “oven spring” for rising.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230 degrees C), with a baking stone placed on a middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other rack that won’t interfere with rising bread.

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Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top with water (we’ve dropped the cornstarch wash) and sprinkle with seed mixture.

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Slash the loaf with 1/2-inch deep parallel cuts across the top (or a singe lengthwise cut as in the first picture).  Use a serrated bread knife held perpendicularly to the loaf:

Slide onto the hot stone…

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…and carefully pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray (in the book, we give alternatives for creating that steam environment, which is essential for creating a great crust):

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After a 30-minute bake, cool on a cooling rack.

Here are more shapes and ways to bake our Master recipe:

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Slow Cooker bread from our Master recipe

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Master recipe baked in a Cloche

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Epi and wreath from Master recipe

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Moon and stars made from Master recipe. And there are many more in the book, plus 100 other recipes. This may be our biggest book yet!



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511 thoughts on “Master Recipe from “New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” using Vital Wheat Gluten!

  1. We’re going to be cruising on our sailboat and would like the capability of continuing to make bread. The boat has very limited refrigerator space so I was thinking of placing the dry ingredients for single loafs in gallon freezer bags. I could then mix them with water in the freezer bags and make individual loafs. Would appreciate your opinion.
    Thanks,
    Andy

  2. Hi,

    I went with Jeff’s suggestion to me in the Ask a Question thread and picked up a Kindle copy of “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” I’ve made it as far as the Master Recipe, and I have question…

    I’ve been baking the Master Recipe above, which I converted to weights using a spreadsheet of cooking conversions that I found some years ago. For water the sheet listed 1 cup = 236.588 ml, which matched my calculator’s constants and an internet search.

    So when I got to, “4 cups of water,” I went with: 946 ml = 946g. I’ve been getting tasty bread, but with less rise and a somewhat more dense loaf than I was hoping for.

    The table of ingredients for the Master Recipe matched all my conversions closely until I got to: lukewarm water 4 cups, 2 pounds, 900g.

    So perhaps I’m using 5% more water then when you bake the Master Recipe, if you bake by the weights? Would this be enough to reduce my rise and oven spring? When I shape my boule and let it rest on the peel, I get a lot of sideways spread. Even before I slash it, there is less height at the end of the rest then when I first finished shaping.

    Should I cut water back to 900g?

    Thanks,
    Alan

    1. Yes, definitely– those don’t foot across perfectly, in an effort to get rounder numbers into the final recipe. Maybe 910 grams, but no more.

      1. Thanks Jeff, I’ll cut back on the next batch and see how it goes.

        I’ve got to restock on flour, so perhaps you can also help me with a tangential question. I can buy Gold Medal locally for about $2 less per bag than King Arthur. I want to use unbleached, unbromated flours, but neither the Gold Medal nor the General Mills web sites provide full information.

        There is a GM all-purpose labelled unbleached, but it doesn’t call out unbromated. The GM white whole wheat doesn’t call out either unbleached or unbromated. The only flour labelled as both is Better for Bread, but I don’t need bread flour for the Master Recipe.

        Since you and Zoe have been to the mill, test kitchens, etc., I’m hoping you’ll have more information. Has Gold Medal stopped bromating their consumer flours (if they ever did)?

        Thanks again,
        Alan

      2. When we visited, GM said that they are also unbromated. I don’t know why they don’t tout it. This was an informal conversation, you may want to check directly with the company as well, at GoldMedalFlour.com

        Whole wheat flours are never bleached…

  3. Here in the Czech Republic, we are used to wheat-rye bread. Can I that whole grain flour for rye flour? Will it need any other adjustment of ingredients?

    Thanks for your answer.

    1. Rye has less gluten and it’s whole-grain version absorbs a lot of water. In this particular recipe, substituting rye flour for wheat flour is going to result in a very, very dense bread, and you’d need to increase the water (?? how much). We have a rye version in the book this comes from, it’s on Amazon at http://bit.ly/3wYSSN. We have some basics about rye here on the website, which you can see if you type “rye” into our Search Bar above.

  4. Just made this for the first time. My dough sat in the fridge for a few days before baking and when I went to form the loaves the top of the loaf was very holey. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hi. Do you mean it looked like there were bubbles in the dough that popped on the surface or is it something else?

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. is it possible to decrease or maybe completely remove the amount of white flour in the recipe? my ideal situation would be 100% whole grain.

    Itay

  6. Thank you for this recipe! I own your first book, which I love. Made up several bags of this healthier version by milling our own flour, adding the rest of the ingredients, and putting each bag in the freezer. When we are ready for some bread, we just pull out a freezer bag, add water, mix it up, let it sit for 2 hours, and bake. So simple!!

  7. Hi, I just got your healthy bread book and I love it! I am planning on making the caramel sticky rolls using this dough. Can I do the second rise in the fridge overnight? Would like to have the rolls first thin in the morning if possible!

  8. Have a question about whole wheat bread. I have tried them now 3 Times but bread doesn’t get as fluffy as the white bread. White bread turns out always great but not so with whole wheat and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Bread is a lot denser than white but I’m following your recipe to the T. Please help.

    1. Hi Maggie,

      Whole grain bread is denser than the white bread, just the nature of the beast. But, it shouldn’t be overly dense. Tell me a bit about the flours you are using.

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. Hi Jeff,

    I love your master whole grain recipe! I’ve tried also making it with einkorn flour but the dough seemed too wet. The final boule went flat in the oven. The bread seemed fluffy, not dense, just spread on me like a flat bread (1.5″ high). Should I use less water?

    1. Hi Justyna,

      You’ll want to use the spelt recipes in the book when using einkorn. It doesn’t have as much gluten developing protein, so it requires less water than all-purpose flour.

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Hi Justyna,

        Yes, that is exactly right. If you want to play with other recipes, you’ll need to decrease the amount of water and I’d start with a small batch, until you get the bread you like.

        Thanks, Zoë

  10. Since there’s a 90 minute resting time for this bread, would you recommend a 30 minute or so resting time if putting it in the crock pot to bake? Or do you think it would come out fine straight out of the refrigerator after shaping/gluten cloaking?

    (I actually have a loaf in the crock pot now, and it’s been in for… close to 2 hours now, I think, and I didn’t do a rise beforehand, and it’s a little hard to tell when it’s done without being tempted to cut into it.)

    1. It took a little over 2 hours (with peeking about every 15-20 minutes after the first 60). Not what I was expecting, but good. I was surprised how much my kids loved it, and it was great for a salamo sandwich with mayo.

    2. Well, our idea here was to minimize the waiting times and just be done with it. It won’t hurt to do it as you suggest.

  11. I ordered the book and it arrives this Tuesday. looking forward to it. I’ve tried recipes from the old version and it taught me this whole new approach to baking.

  12. When I take some dough out to bake, can I just replace it with more flour and water and keep the dough going in the fridge, kind of like feeding a sourdough starter?

      1. Hi Zoe! Thanks for getting back to me re: storing in stainless steel bowl. I did have a 3 qt plastic container, by the time the dough finished rising it looked like the hat on the Pillsbury dough boy, way over the top! Have already ordered 5 qt container. Just wanted to let you know that I made my first loaf of artisan bread in 5 yesterday exactly as recipe indicated, and it was PERFECT! My husband and I couldn’t get over how nice and crisp the crust is, and loved the taste and texture of the bread. I will be making another loaf today, and I am also looking forward to trying the healthy bread in 5. Many thanks to you and Michael for taking the time and effort to perfect this recipe and make it available to all of us!!

      2. Hi Glenda,

        I am so pleased that your first loaf was such a success. I have had the dough pop over the top of a container, so you are in good company!

        Cheers, Zoë

  13. Jeff & Zoe
    I Love, Love, Love your books. I have 4 of them. Just received your latest for a Christmas gift. Yea!!!!
    I love working with your dough recipes.
    I have a question about which type of dough would be best for making runzas or bierocks. Most recipes I have seen that are posted, are made with an enriched dough with egg, sugar and milk. That is fine, but I would like to make a big batch of dough to be able to use as needed and could keep in the fridge . Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks.

    1. Our brioche (richer) or challah (less rich) would be very close to what you’re looking to do. Five days are the max storage though, otherwise freeze it.

  14. Love your new book but help, please! The Honey Whole Wheat variation of the 100% Whole Wheat master recipe says 350 degrees for the baking temperature ON PAGE 92, but 450 degrees for the baking temperature ON PAGE 95! WHich is correct, please?

  15. So sorry, in my question above I meant that it says 450 degrees on PAGE 97 for Honey Whole Wheat but 350 degrees on page 92

    1. We ask you to “correct the baking temperature as directed in the variation you’re using.” So the variation-temperature, on page 92 is correct. Page 97’s instructions would hold only if you were using the basic dough.

      1. Thank you very much for your fast reply! I see now.
        (It is a bit confusing in the book, however, because while it does say on page 96, “Correct baking temperature as directed in the variation that you’re using” [sorry; I missed that], the Honey Whole Wheat variation is the only variation on pages 92-93 that has a different temperature in its description.)

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