FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Our best inspirations come from reader questions, and we’ve enjoyed answering them since starting this blog to support our books in 2007.  Click on any of the questions below– these are the ones that seem to be on a lot of bakers’ minds.  If you’re having a problem with one of our recipes, breeze through these FAQs first.

If you can’t find an answer in the FAQs, click on any “Comments” field adjoining a “post” here on the website (doesn’t have to be related to the content underneath).  Please tell us which book you’re working from, and which recipe and page number.

  1. I posted a comment to this site but it hasn’t appeared. What happened?
  2. Contest and Giveaway Rules
  3. Convection oven: Any adjustment needed?
  4. Dense or gummy crumb: What am I doing wrong?
  5. Flour varieties: Do I need to adjust the liquids when I use different kinds of white flour?
  6. Freezing the dough: Can I do it?
  7. Fresh-ground grains: can I use them with this method?
  8. Gluten-Free Frequently Asked Questions (GF FAQs)
  9. Gray color on my dough: Is there something wrong?
  10. High-altitude baking: How do I adjust the recipes for high-altitude?
  11. Incorporating dried fruit, nuts, or herbs into stored dough: How do I do it?
  12. Larger loaves: What adjustments are needed?
  13. Left the dough on the counter overnight! Can I still use it?
  14. Measuring flour by volume: How we measured when we tested the recipes (scoop-and-sweep)
  15. Missing instructions and missing recipes: Some of the web-based recipes don’t have everything I need to make the bread, and others are missing from the website altogether
  16. Nutrition content: How can I calculate it?
  17. Photographs: Can I post pictures to this website?
  18. Privacy Policy
  19. Refrigerator rise trick: The formed loaves or rolls rise overnight and are ready for the oven the next day
  20. Rising: My shaped loaves don’t seem to rise much before it’s time for the oven.  What am I doing wrong?
  21. Salt: Can I decrease the amount of salt in the recipes?  How do I adjust for different kinds of salt?
  22. Sourdough starter: Can I use it with this method?
  23. Steam alternatives: How do I create a steam environment for a great crust when my oven doesn’t trap steam well?
  24. Stone broke! What did I do wrong?
  25. Storing bread: What’s the best way to do it?
  26. Traditional recipes: How can they be converted to the ABin5 method?
  27. Underbaked! My loaf didn’t bake through to the center.  What am I doing wrong?
  28. Web use: Can I use your recipes on my own website, in my class, or in a publication?
  29. Weighing ingredients instead of using cup measures: How do you do it?
  30. Whole grain flours and vital wheat gluten: How do you use them?
  31. Whole grain flours and doughs without vital wheat gluten: How do those work?
  32. Yeast: Can it be decreased in the recipes?

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2,987 thoughts on “FAQs

      1. Thank you, Jeff! Happy Holidays, and HUGS to you both. Happy 10 years anniversary. You guys changed my life!!!

  1. I follow the recipe to the letter and my dough initially rises nicely, I cut off a piece, do the cloaking and put it on my paddle, where upon it flattens out and I get a flat oval shape dough and subsequently a flatter loaf, not the nice round shapes one see’s in pictures, What am I doing wrong?

      1. The book is “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day “, following the recipe on Page 26 The Master Recipe (Artisan Free-Form Loaf. I tried again same problem after cloaking I put the dough on a pizza paddle it didn’t keep its shape and flattened out to about 1 inch thick .

      2. Three possible answers:
        1. Your flour measurement may be off. Weights are the most accurate, but if using volume (cup-measures) be sure you’re using the scoop-and-sweep method like we tested with.

        2. May not be “gluten-cloaking” adequately.

        3. You may be using a flour with less water-absorbing protein than what we tested with (which was Gold Medal All-Purpose). If the dough’s too wet, it’ll spread sideways. Just decrease the water a bit if this is the likeliest.

        See videos at

        Gluten-cloaking/shaping with Rye Dough from ABin5, wet at 14 days: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2010/03/08/new-video-shaping-the-ball-from-a-very-wet-dough
        • Gluten-cloaking/shaping with whole-grain dough: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2010/02/16/new-video-how-to-shape-a-loaf-using-whole-grain-dough
        • The Scoop-And-Sweep Technique: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2010/04/28/how-we-measure-our-flour-using-the-scoop-and-sweep-method

  2. I am trying to make the sourdough starter you mentioned and it separates after stirring. I am on the 6th day and not much in the way of bubble activity, and it seems to be very liquid. Is this normal?

    1. Separating is no big deal, but “not much” bubbling is a problem. Is your water highly chlorinated?

      Throw away half, replenish and see if you can boost the bubbling.

      1. I ended up starting over on the sourdough starter and I think I have a batch per your instructions on your website, however, you mention chapter 11 in the book about more tips for using the starter. I have both books and I can’t find chapter 11 anywhere.

  3. I have been baking this bread for a couple of years and loved it so much so I bought everyone of my friends the book. I have since moved to Florida ( I lived in upstate new York ) and have not made a decent loaf yet. My bread comes out of the oven not as brown as it used to but also has a crust that is extremely hard. Can you please help?

    1. Hi Ann,

      3 things come to mind:

      1. Are you using the same flour?
      2. Is your new oven gas, instead of electric?
      3. Is the water particularly hard (does it leave a film of mineral on your cooking pots)?

      Let me know and we can try to figure this out.

      Thanks, Zoë

  4. Out of the lovely The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book – which recipe would you direct me to that will make a loaf with an open texture and and a bit of a crunchy feel. I have made several different ones but my husband fusses that the feel is dense. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Karen,

      The more white flour you use the more open the crumb will be. The trick may be to use the master recipe in the first 24 hours and let it rest a bit longer than normal. If your kitchen is on the cooler side it may need additional time to rest before baking.

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. First batch and I missed the instruction about mixing vital wheat gluten in with the flour. I dropped it into water….is this batch ruined?

  6. Can I substitute sugar for honey in brioche or challah? If so what would the measurement be? I’m using the new artisan bread in 5 minutes a day.

  7. Hi! I’ve been watching your videos and i’ve made some nice loaf breads using your recipe! Yesterday though, after mixing the ingredients and after letting it sit overnight on the counter (it kinda rose but unlike what i made before where dough rises to double or more) when i picked up a handful to gluten cloak, i noticed that there was liquid at the bottom of the container and the smell of alcohol (fermentation smell) was so strong…. its more like a batter than a dough consistency. Can i add more flour and yeast?

    1. Hi Olive,

      Which dough are you using? Had the dough been refrigerated at all or you just let it sit at room temperature the whole time?

      Thanks, Zoë

  8. Greetings,

    My name is John, and I have been utilizing your recipes/methods for about 5 years now. When I began making artisan bread with your method, I lived in NC, and the bread always worked. I then moved to a California, and the bread never turned out, not once. So, I stopped making it for a couple of years. I now live in KY, and I have started trying to make it again. The issue I am having is that the initial rise doesn’t not occur. I remember when I used to make this that the dough would rise up and almost fill the container, and it would have the correct look, as it does in your videos.
    How can I corr cat this issue?
    Thanks so much!
    Best regards,


      1. You have to go over everything you’re doing–something must have changed, and Kentucky/CA are the same so it’s probably not location:
        Ingredients? Yeast? Using hot water (or ice-cold)? Different flour other than all-purpose?

        But more important–what is the result when you bake the dough? Hole-structure? Flavor?

  9. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your quick response!
    The hole-structure is non-existent. I can’t seem to get it to do that. One thing I know has changed is that I’m only using 3 cups of water, and I used to use 3-1/4 cups.
    The taste at this point is just ok?
    I’ve gone back and watched all of your original videos that I had watched when I first started. I also have your book.
    Thanks again,


      1. mix a quarter teaspoon of yeast with a quarter teaspoon of sugar and mix into 2 tablespoons of warm (not hot) water. Should bubble within five minutes.

  10. I’m enjoying the book and mixed my first batch last evening an first loaf this morning. Good flavor but I didn’t leave it in long enough because the center wasn’t quite done. I found the temps for an instant read thermometer and will use that as a guide next time.
    I am starting with your master recipe in my inside oven–I use “convection bake”, not “convection roast”, right?–and hope to graduate to my outdoor wood-fired oven (I built a couple years ago) in the spring. I used a cast iron pot with a cover so I didn’t need to worry about steam–that seems to work fine.
    I appreciate your writing style. Keep up the good work!
    PS: I’m in my early 70’s and have wanted to bake bread since I retired and moved out to the country 12 years ago. I do most of the cooking as well as all of the animal raising/processing and now your book has helped me get closer to another part of my dream.

    1. When you say “the book,” and “the Master Recipe,” which book do you have, and which Master Recipe are you using (what page number of which book)? We have many…

  11. I’ve been searching your website but haven’t found an answer to this yet: can I bake two loaves at once? I want to make sure that isn’t a terrible idea before I do it! It’s going to be the garlic potato bread, if that makes a difference.

    1. No big! Maybe a 15% increase in baking time, but not all ovens will need it. You can do it– just go by the brown-ness of the loaf.

  12. Hi,

    I have been baking your bread for years and that has brought an unusual and tough request! I was asked to bake 50 small bread bowls for a fish chowder cook off at our local wildlife sanctuary in a couple of weeks. I have been baking from several of your books so I was thinking that I could shrink the dough portion size for the master recipe boule (new artisan bread in five minutes), but I was looking for what you thought I should start with for size and corresponding rise and bake times? A one pound boule is definitely too big. Maybe even switch to a peasant loaf or master pizza recipe? Thanks!

  13. When we lived in Colorado (6000 ft, low humidity) I had great results with the master recipe. Now we live in NW Florida (25 ft, ridiculous humidity). When I try the master recipe, I get something like stretchy cake batter. I used the scoop/sweep and by-weight measurements. Same results. The flour (White Lily AP) I’ve been using I discovered is only about 9%. Could that cause the dough to be so wet? Should I mix bread flour into the already made dough, and if I do, should I add more yeast & salt? I don’t want to waste the dough I made yesterday. Thank you in advance!

  14. When you let the dough rise for 40 minutes after you take it out of the refrigerator, what should be the room temperature???? My formed dough is still cold when I out in the oven. How do I know it is ready to be cooked?

    1. Hi Sally,

      You’ll need to give me some more detail about what book, dough and bread you are trying to bake and I can try to help you improve your crust.

      Thanks, Zoë

  15. Hi, I do not have a pizza stone, but what I do have is loads of cast iron. Can I substitute the process of using the cast iron instead of the stone directly, or do I need to add any steps. And what are those steps if need. Thanks.

    Charlette Keys

    1. Hi Charlette,

      Cast iron works brilliantly. You can use it just as you would a preheated stone. The only difference you may run into is the shape. If your cast iron is not flat, you’ll have to bake something that conforms to it’s shape.

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. How about turning your largest skillet upside-down and cooking on the flat side? It might at least give you easier access to your pizza. Your only limit would the the size of the pan you are using….12″ skillet = 11″ or 12″ pizza (if your aim is good).

      2. Hi Rita,

        The pizza moves around as you are putting it in and out of the oven, so it would have to be a very small pizza or you may have bit of a mess.

        Thanks, Zoë

  16. Working with the Master Recipe in the NEW Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day; Initially, the dough was just too wet to be workable, having weighed all ingredients (using weights indicated on p. 53). In the last batch, I increased the Gold Medal Flour to 927 grams (apprx. 1/8 cup). Allowed to rise two hours. My question is: how much can I continue to tweak the amounts before I jeopardize the chemical reactions? With the added flour, the boule baked beautifully, however it was too slack to be able to slash before baking, and any shaping techniques (Challah, naan) were impossible. Can I continue to decrease water or add flour? Thanks!!

    1. Hi John,

      Is this your first batch of our dough? Have you seen any of our videos to compare how wet your dough is? It’s so unusual for it to be too wet when using Gold Medal and doing it by weights. I wonder if there could have been an error when you went to tare after an ingredient? But, to answer your question, you can continue to add flour until the consistency seems right. Here is a video about shaping wet dough that can be helpful if this batch remains too wet: https://artisanbreadinfive.com/2017/04/16/new-video-shaping-the-ball-from-a-very-wet-dough/

      Thank you, Zoë

      1. Hi Zoe,
        Thanks for the response. Not only have I watched that video, I’ve STUDIED it! I have to say that my results seem nearly identical to the video through the cloaking. It spreads a bit during the rise period. BUT, I have not been able to make clean slashes in the dough prior to baking, and in trying to roll braids for challah, or roll the dough thin for naan, the cloaking didn’t seem to be sufficient to prevent sticking during the shaping. I’m onto the next (4th) batch now…but I’m committed to achieving great results. Thanks for the book, the videos, and your accessibility!


      2. Hi John,

        If you live in a particularly humid climate, it may just mean that you need to add more flour until it has the right consistency. You could also try switching to bread flour, that has more gluten structure.

        Thanks, Zoë

  17. Not a comment, 2 questions: 1. I carefully tuck my dough into a ball and put it on the pizza peal to rise. Invariably it spreads laterally, rather than rising into the lovely ball-shaped loaf you always picture. What am I doing wrong? I’ve baked bread for several hundred years and have never had this problem with free-form bread. Must admit, I haven’t tried my proofing basket. Other than this pesky problem, I really enjoy your system and the bread it produces. 2. Are there ways to modify my old favorites to your system? Ex: dilly casserole bread. I know the eggs won’t be a problem, if I put them in at the beginning. But what about the cottage cheese? And what if I want to make a single loaf at the middle of a batch? (I don’t use any of the social media, so I guess I should just check here for answers?)

    1. Hi Alice,

      What recipe are you using?

      1. Here is a video that may help: https://artisanbreadinfive.com/2017/04/16/new-video-shaping-the-ball-from-a-very-wet-dough/ Our dough is wet, so it is crucial to get a strong gluten cloak, or it may spread. If that isn’t the issue, your dough may be a touch too wet.

      2. What book do you have? I can help you find a recipe to adapt to fit your dilly casserole bread.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “And what if I want to make a single loaf at the middle of a batch?”

      Thanks, Zoë

  18. We are testing your “Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Loaf” for use in our bakery. We’d like to keep it vegan as well as gluten free. We are attempting to add a topping to the loaf (mixed nuts and seeds), but are having issues. We have tried adding it in the beginning, but the topping gets too brown, and also towards the end of baking (does not stick). We have tried water washes and oil spray to no avail – the topping just falls right off. Do you have any recommendations? It is a delicious bread and I think it will do very well here! Thanks in advance! – Sue

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