Ask a Question

If you have a bread-baking question, you’ll probably find the answer on our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page, so please start there (we also have a Gluten-Free FAQs page). If you don’t find your answer in the FAQs, you can post baking questions and comments, but please be brief, so we can get to all the questions.  

Here’s how: Click on any “Comments/Reply” field at the top of any of our posts (it doesn’t have to be here on “Ask a Question”) and scroll down to the bottom; then enter your question or comment. Tell us which book you’re working from, and which recipe and page number–we need that in order to answer your question. If you enter your e-mail and check off “notify me of follow-up comments by e-mail,” you’ll automatically find out when we respond.

We answer all questions ourselves here on the website within 24 hours, often with a reference to a page number in our books where possible.  Please remember that our blog is moderated, so your post may not appear until we’ve read and approved it; this can take 24 hours.  And don’t look for our response in your personal e-mail– come back here to the site, on the page where you posted, to look for our answer.


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2,496 thoughts on “Ask a Question

  1. I have “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day,” 2007 ed. I have been using the book for years, but just tried, Oat Flour Bread, pg. 104-5, and two loaves later, I have a small, hardly risen loaf. The recipe doesn’t include sugar, is that the problem? I just bought new yeast, and the loaf is unremarkable.

    1. It’s not the sugar–may be related to expectations, because this is definitely a denser loaf than all-wheat. But, one problem is that oat flours are non-standard, and may absorb water very differently across brands. Adjust the water so that the dough’s consistency is about what you’re used to with the master recipe in that book.

      A too-dry dough won’t rise well. Make sure your oven’s hot enough or you lose oven spring. Check with something like

      1. Thanks so much for your timely response. I made my first loaf using your book yesterday, and I’m so excited!

  2. I’m very interested in your “The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” book, as I read that it’s mostly 100% whole wheat and that leavening with all or most sourdough starter is treated as a viable consideration. I’m also very excited to try making bread with Einkorn and other ancient grains and see that suggestions will be made for those as well. It seems like the mechanisms and system of bread making is presented and taught rather than just recipes.

    I might have to put my bread machine up in the cupboard if this book helps me learn how to actually make healthy bread in the oven by hand.

    My question is about dairy- and egg-free recipes. I’m vegan and I’m wondering how many of the recipes in the book fit within those guidelines.

    1. Except for the Enriched-Bread chapter (Brioche, challah, sweet rolls etc), most of the recipes don’t include dairy or egg.

  3. I’ve been enjoying your book for over a year. Just bought a countertop convection oven. Pretty large capacity. Only goes to 450*. Problem is at this temp with conception on the top got dark brown at about 15 min. But when taken out the lower 1/4 of the loaf was wet. Rest of loaf was fine. Please help. Thank you. It does bagels very well.

    1. If it can’t be run as a traditional oven (with the convection feature turned to “off”), this is going to be challenging. My first experiment would be to turn off convection. If can’t, try baking 25 to 50 degrees cooler, but for a longer time to compensate for the temp difference.

      Pretty much no full-size loaf can be done at the 15-min mark. So that’s another option–keep things small (like bagels or rolls), or do skinny loaves, like baguettes or the couronne. Easier to bake through with less time. A high domed, full-size loaf is going to be a challenge in the unconventional oven.

  4. My Master Recipe loaf continues to have a dense crumb, especially the lower half which usually has a spongy/soggy texture. This is after many loaves and many batches so I’m about to give up, but would love suggestions before doing so. I’m using the recipe on pp 26-33 from the 2007 edition of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

    1. Have you considered all the trouble-shooting tips at ?

      Have you written before (not seeing that)? When you say “continues to have…” I wondered if you’ve detailed the problems.
      The two most common causes of what you’re seeing are 1) incorrect measurement of flour, or 2) oven temp is off, or 3) using a non-standard flour. So…

      1. If measuring by volume, be sure you’re using the same measurement technique that we test with; you can see that at . Even better, measure flour with a scale. For the Master Recipe you’re working with, it’s 2 pounds of white all-purpose flour. Our followup books have weights for all dough recipes.

      2. Especially if too cool, you won’t get “oven spring” and you’ll have a dense loaf. Use something like: Or just turn up the temp as an experiment. 25 degrees? 50 degrees? If this was the explanation, you’re probably finding that the loaves need more baking time than what we specify.

      3. Making any swaps? Additions? Using other flours? Home-ground flour? Whole wheat? We have whole-wheat recipes, but this isn’t one of them.

  5. Hey ho. So I love the english granary bread, but it always seems wet/moist in the middle. Should I just make smaller loaves and let them bake longer? Anyone else have this issue???

    1. Most of my answer just above your question is relevant here as well. Any chance those are the explanations? But yes (and this is relevant to the Master Recipe question too)— smaller loaves are easier to bake through.

  6. Jeff/Zoe,
    I have been making your bread weekly for the past several years. I buy 10 lbs. bags of KA flour at BJs , When I get home I weigh out 910 Grams and put it in feeezer ziplock bags and freeze the bags. This is the amount for the Master Recipe, When I make the bread the amt. is already there saves time and so much more economical due to the amt. I save buying it in 10 lb.. If the recipe I make calls for more less I adjust it. Your recipes are great for giving to others.
    Thank you again for your books and guidance when a question is asked.

    1. Yes. Add some water into which you’ve slurried the salt, maybe one cup. Mix it in, which will collapse the dough. Then work in flour until you have the right consistency. Allow to stand at room temp for 2 hrs and it’ll re-ferment and re-expand.

  7. I love the ciabatta bread (page 37 of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I would like to make ciabatta buns. Any suggestions?

  8. Is it vital to use the gluten product that you mention in your Youtube video? (I wasn’t able to catch the name of it, and I don’t know if it’s available in the UK.) I’d like to manage without it, if possible. Many thanks.

    1. Yes, it is possible, but you have to adjust the water–we have a table in The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, on Amazon (US, though I think Amazon UK carries it), at The product we tested with was Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, but the Hodgson Mills works fine too. Not sure where to get either of them in the UK.

  9. Hi, I have had your book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day from 2007 and have enjoyed it very much! I am a beginner, and have loved being able to try the recipes and feel very successful with your wonderful creations!

    I am working on the Oatmeal Bread and Raisin- Walnut Bread on p. 95 and 98. I like a softer crust, so would I leave out the steam step? My main question is that I am not getting any oven spring. It does taste great-and smell great when baking! But I’ve gotten a lovely first rise, and even a good second rise, but no oven spring, and it is a bit harder than I imagine your intended results are. Any suggestions? Thanks, by the way, and your book and website is something I love and enjoy!

    1. Glad you’re enjoying the book Amanda. To your questions:
      1. Yes, could leave out the steam (though the crust won’t be as pretty). Also could paint the surface with melted butter or oil just before baking (no steam, again). For super-soft, could re-paint as it comes out of the oven.
      2. Well… this is a denser bread than most of ours. One thing to try–a little more water, maybe your dough’s a little dry.

      1. Thanks so much! I’ll try to paint it with butter- I like that idea. I have some in a pan now, to bake a little later!

  10. Hello! I am from Chile. The first whole wheat batch I made turned out great. The second and third not so well. The dough spoiled and has an alcohol smell and I had to throw it all away. Lots of flour lost but I am not sure what went wrong. I am also having trouble with quite a few loaves turned out raw inside so maybe will use a thermometer from now on but I don´t want to give up!

  11. Re: Master Recipe, “NEW Artisan Bread” (Page 53), regarding Old Dough:

    What would be the optimal amount of Old Dough to add to your master recipe with each batch for the best flavor? I would like to scale down the recipe to make a one-time “starter” batch of old dough so that it could age for several days before adding it to a new, full recipe of fresh dough. Thereafter I would set aside an equal amount of a fresh dough (which includes the “starter” old dough) to make the old dough for successive batches. This way I wouldn’t have to cut down the size of my loaves by reserving dough from a regular batch.

    1) Would one-fourth (25%) of the original recipe be too much to use as Old Dough to add to a fresh batch of dough? Or what percentage would you suggest?

    2) For the best flavor and oven spring in the baked loaves, what would be the best length of time to refrigerate my “starter” batch before using it in a freshly-made dough recipe?

    3) Anything else to keep in mind?

    Thank you,

    1. 1. 25% is a good target, I often use about that amount.
      2. There’s a range here. You’ll get good flavor anywhere from about 5 to 14 days. If you go earlier, the flavor will be less pronounced.

      That’s it, pretty easy…

      1. OooHooo! I’ll get my “Cheater’s Old Dough” started tonight. I can’t wait to use it next week! That 5- to 14-day window makes it even more convenient.

        I will also start a blank-slate whole-grain “Cheater’s Old Dough” with a conservative mix of whole-grain flours, probably based on one of your recipes from “Healthy Breads” that will become an Old Dough Base for a lot of more complex recipes where I can punch up the individual specific flours and/or flavorings in the original recipe so I won’t lose their percentage in the whole recipe.

        Thank you, Jeff, for your reply and for making both you and Zoe so accessible for advice. You both make it possible for us to grow and become better bakers in skills and in experimenting with variations. You have a fine group of breadheads here who post so many positive and informative comments and questions. Such a rewarding community. I learn so much from reading the Q&A. Other authors should take note.

  12. I tried making the Brioche (pg 300) dough in The New Artisan Bread book and the dough was way to sticky to use even when keeping things floured, took forever to rise. I ended up throwing most of it would as I just couldn’t do anything with it. I’m using KA flour and weighing it.

    1. The only explanation is that you (for whatever reason) just need more flour. Measurement error?? We’ve made this recipe 100s of times with these specifications.

  13. I am working out of The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I followed the directions for the Master Recipe on p. 81 with exception that I used King Arthur Whole Wheat & the recommended 4.25 cups of water. I weighed all ingredients. I let the dough rise for around 6 hours in the kitchen before placing it in the refrigerator overnight. This morning I weighed out a 1 lb. chunk and attempted to emulate what was happening on pages 86 & 87. I placed cornmeal on my pizza peel and spent no more then 40 seconds forming the dough into an oval. My dough turned into a glorified pancake after about 15 minutes. It is also very sticky. The slashes I made closed back up. When I attempted to slide the dough off onto the pizza stone it wouldn’t budge. I finally got it off but yuk. The loaf that came out after 30 minutes. It was a bit spongy in the middle but tasteful nevertheless. Oven spring did not seem to factor in much. The second batch is resting – this time on a piece of parchment paper! It has flattened out. The dimensions are @ 1″ high at center x 8″ long x 6″ wide. Any feedback would be appreciated.

  14. Do you have a kouign amann recipe ( or similar) in any of your books? It’s a leftover bread dough recipe from Brittany, France. If you don’t have one yet, you should, I would think it’s right up your alley with such large batches of bread dough. It’s a great way to use up that last little bit of dough in the bucket.

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