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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4,082 thoughts on “Ask a Question

  1. Hello– Im trying the gluten free master recipe in the New ARtisan Bread in 5….. The dough is really wet and heavy. Should i work more flour in? –Carolyn

    1. All depends on whether you made any changes (any at all!) in the recipe. If you used a brand other than Bob’s Red Mill for the flour mixture, all bets are off as to how much flour you need relative to water. We used that one because in the U.S., that’s pretty much the only brand that’s readily available for brown rice flour, potato flour, tapioca, and sorghum flour. And you cannot omit the xanthan gum or it won’t have any structure at all.

      Second thing–the first printing of that book had an unfortunate typo–on page 268, it left out a key ingredient: Sorghum flour, and you need 1 1/4 cups (which weighs 5.5 ounces, or 155 grams). If you didn’t put that in, that’s the flour you need to work in. Sorry about that. For more detail, see our corrections page for that book, at

  2. I have questions about the Pate Fermentee process: I love incorporating a bit of my white rye doughs into the next batch, but am always concerned about the water temperature being too cool, after mixing, for the yeast to do its thing. Should I be warming up the old dough somehow first? So far it seems to be working okay IF I get it mixed up with no lumps, but it still nags me.

    Also, can I continue the process, using a bit of each further batch of this, to keep it going, or will there come a point when I shouldn’t? Thanks!

    1. I don’t think the temperature is all that crucial, unless you’re using cold water to start the next batch. And then, yes, I’ve found that after about two cups of pate f., I’m not liking the flavor as much.

    1. We have not tested the GF at high altitudes, but check out our high-altitude adjustments for wheat breads on our FAQs page. We can’t be sure this applies to GF…

    2. Check out our high-altitude recommendations in the books (not the GF), or here on the website on the FAQs page. But–we don’t know if these wheat recommendations translate over for GF, we haven’t tested them at altitude.

  3. Hi! Love your books and bread! I have been baking (and having fun) with your master recipe for the past year and a half. I would like to use sourdough starter for leavening. You had said to use 1 1/2 cups of active starter for the master recipe but will still need some added yeast. How much added yeast do you recommend?


  4. I am new to bread making. I have all three of your books. I am trying to find a recipe for ciabatta so make paninis or maybe another type of bread?

    So far I have been successful with baguettes! I make lots of baguettes! Last night and today for lunch we made pizza! ALL my alarms went off just preheating the oven (no smoke) after ten min I could not stand it any longer turned off the oven and put the bread on my crusinart griller closed the lid for 5 minutes @ 450 opened it turned the temp on the lower one to lowest setting and put toppings on shit the lid with out touching u til the cheese melted. Husband said it was the very best! Thank you! Now for ciabatta!

    1. if you have three of our books, you almost certainly have a ciabatta recipe because we’ve got a bunch of them in there! Check the indexes.

      Great about the pizza and French bread though.

  5. I’ve been baking various breads from your “New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” and am LOVING it (as are my family and friends — I can hardly keep up).

    I now want to bake something much more grainy, hearty, gnarly — I hope to find something in the “New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” (what, the other bread isn’t “healthy”?), but meanwhile I looked through the index of my first book to see if there’s anything in there but I don’t understand your index at all!

    Can you please explain how you organize your thoughts in there? I’ve tried to make sense of it via many different variables — alphabet, subject, different spaces and tabs and capitalizations and lower case and it makes no sense to me at all. Can you explain?

    1. Watch for the large letters setting off each A, B, C, D… etc. That’s the highest level of alphabetization, based on the wide categories as determined by our indexer. Then, under each letter is an alphabetized list of categories that start with that letter. Indented, subcategories of those. The indexer will alphabetize concepts but also recipe-names, and ingredient-names. Hope that helps…

  6. Hi Jeff and Zoe, I have most of your books and love them so much, they were a game changer for me. I have recently retired and finally sat down to read the healthy bread book, and saw that all the recipes used vital wheat gluten, it is not a product we can get in Australia, is there an alternative? I have something called ‘bread improver’ it contains,wheat flour,soya flour, emulsifer,ascorbic acid,mineral salt and enzymes. Is this the same thing?
    thank you for taking the time to answer this question.


    1. No, it’s not the same thing. That said, I frequently leave out the VWG. Some caveats though:

      — you need to decrease the liquid, by 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on the protein content of Australian flour.
      — the dough won’t hold it’s shape as well, possibly spreading sideways in freeform loaves
      — this is going to take some experimentation…

      1. Thanks Jeff, I just checked the packet of flour, it comes in 1 kilo bag and nutrition panel states, protein is 10.9 grams per 100 gram. I usually try and use a bread tin or dutch oven so spreading won’t be such an issue.

  7. Hi Jeff & Zöe
    I was looking ata traditional Jewish rye bread recipe and it used pickle juice and potato flakes. Could I just add pickle juice? Would that add something to the flavor? should I reduce salt?
    P. S. I use the Artisan in Five and the Healthy bread recipes.

    1. We’ve never tried this, and it’s not really traditional. That said, it might be delicious. You can replace it for some fraction of the water. One-eighth? Consider this an experiment…

  8. Hi, I live in the far north of Australia, where it is always hot and often steamy (90 degrees F as I write). I am on my third lot of dough, just baking its last loaf tonight. I use ordinary bakers flour from the supermarket or stone-ground from the organic shop. My problem is that the dough seems far too wet and sticky, and when I form up the loaf, it flattens right out (about 8 inches wide and about 1.5 inches high) like a foccaccia. I can only conclude that in this weather I need to use much less than the 680g of water. I might even try using just 600g. I can see Michelle (below) also an Australian, has the same problem. Could it really be the protein content

    1. Michael, it might be the weather, but it also is probably the case that the flour you’re using is somehow different than ours, and it’s absorbing less of the water. So by all means go ahead and experiment with less water until it’s able to be handled.

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