Q&A Dense or Gummy Crumb

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Q: The crumb of my bread is dense with small holes, how do I fix this?

A: There are several things that we have found that can help you to achieve a crumb with a nice open hole structure:

1. For white-flour recipes, are you using something other than U.S. all-purpose flour? If so, check this page for water adjustments.

2.  Make sure that your dough is not too wet or too dry, both extremes will result in a dense crumb. You can check to see if you are using the right amount of water for the type of flour you use (click here to check).  And make sure you are measuring using the scoop-and-sweep method, click here for a video of that.

3.  Be gentle! Once you determine that your dough is the right consistency then make sure you are handling it very gently. We find that people tend to want to knead the dough, even a little. This knocks the gas out of the dough and will give you a dense crumb. When shaping the dough be very careful to leave as much of the air bubbles in tact as possible. These bubbles will create the holes in the bread. We say to shape the dough for about 30-60 seconds, but we’ve come to think that even that is too long. Try getting it down to 2-40 seconds!

4. Try a longer rest after shaping: In our first book (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day), we opted for a very short rest time, usually 40 minutes for one-pound loaves made mostly with white flour.  For most readers, that was enough to prevent dense results.  But others found this to be a little dense, especially if your kitchen is cooler than 68 degrees.  Try 60, or even 90 minutes for white-flour loaves, and see what you think.   Whole grain loaves almost always need a 90 minute rest.

5.  Longer-stored doughs may be best for flatbread: If you are using a dough that is close to 2 weeks old or older, you may want to stick to pizza, pita, naan or another option from the flat bread chapters in the books, or from our third book, due in 2011, which will be all about flatbread and pizza.  The yeast will not have its full power and if baked as a high loaf it may come out denser than you want.

6.  Check your oven temperature:  Use something like this thermometer on Amazon; if your oven’s off, you won’t get proper “oven spring” and the loaf can be dense.

The “refrigerator rise” trick is convenient and results in a nice open crumb:

It’s also super-convenient, allowing you to shape your dough and then have it rise in the refrigerator for 8 to 14 hours before baking. This is what you do:

1. If you want fresh dinnertime bread or rolls, then first thing in the morning cut off a piece of dough and shape it as normal. Place the dough on a sheet of parchment, loosely wrap with plastic and put it back in the refrigerator.   If you want to bake first thing in the morning, shape and refrigerate at bedtime.

2. Eight to fourteen hours later, the loaves or rolls may have spread slightly, and may not seem to have risen at all. Don’t panic, they will still have lovely oven spring! Because you don’t handle the dough at all after the refrigerator rise the bubbles in the dough should still be intact. Preheat your oven with a stone on the middle rack to 475 degrees. When the oven is nice and hot take out your cold dough, slash it as normal and bake per recipe directions. Allow to cool and serve.

More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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663 thoughts on “Q&A Dense or Gummy Crumb

  1. After success with the Master Recipe in your first book — I baked loaves, rolls, even pita bread on the bbq — I decided to try the English Granary-style bread on p 91.

    I used fresh ingredients, an oven thermometer, and a stone and lasagne pan — removed after 15 mins baking time — for the steam. I heated the oven to 400 F per the recipe, checked the temp with the oven thermometer, and waited 15 more minutes to heat the stone thru before baking the bread.

    I weighed out the ingredients when I made the dough. On baking day, I weighed out 1 lb of dough, shaped it and let it rest for 60 minutes, then baked it for 35 minutes as the recipe suggests.

    The crust was hard and the loaf badly underbaked.

    For my next try, I followed the same steps, and baked for 50 minutes. The crust was now very tough and the interior was still underbaked.

    As the recipe does not specify the type of malt powder used, I assume it doesnt really matter.

    Is there anything I can do to save the remaining dough from this batch, which is now about a week old.

    BTW, according to the frontmatter, my copy of your book is from the 17 th printing (wow, congratulations !!), but this book still contains the text:

    a multi-grain loaf that includes wheat and barley

    rather than the corrected text indicated on your web site.

    I notice that as time has passed, you have refined and revised some of the processes you describe in the first book, and I was wondering if you have made changes to this recipe. I searched the web site, but could only find a couple of brief references to this recipe.

    Many thanks for your help,

    Peter

    • Peter: We’ve used both diastatic and non-diastatic malt, but just so you know, King Arthur recommends non-diastatic for this kind of recipe. Where did you find malted wheat flakes, what did you use? U.S. readers have been completely unable to find this ingredient, and people start swapping. That could account for your result. Any chance you’re using bleached flour? See our post on underbaking in the FAQs page above.

      Depending on how much of this dough remains, you could salvage it by using it as a pate fermentee in a new batch, where it represented only a minority of the dough.

      But most important, don’t use a glass lasagne pan to create steam– they crack violently when water’s thrown into a hot one.

  2. Thanks for the superspeedy reply.

    To clarify, I use a tinfoil lasagne pan over the top of the loaf to try to trap steam, rather than use a metal broiler tray and a cup of hot water.

    I use the tinfoil pan for the first 15 minutes of baking , then remove if from on top of the loaf and bake for the rest of the time. My oven doesn’t seem to trap steam very well when I use the broiler pan and cup of hot water method. I am not using any glass items — I read your warnings !!

    The King Arthur Flour web site:

    kingarthurflour.com

    lists malted wheat flakes as item number 3596, sold in 1 lb packages.

    In the recipe for granary-style bread on the back of the King Arthur packet, they use 1/2 tsp diastatic malt powder as an optional addition.

    I am not using bleached flour.

    About half of the dough remains unused.

    Any light you can shed on why this recipe didn’t work will be much appreciated. I am an expat Brit living in Washington state, and would really like to re-create the granary bread I remember.

    Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      After reading through your questions and Jeff’s response I wonder what you used for weights for the ingredients?

      It sounds like your dough may be too wet. If you were to add a bit more flour to the dough to dry it out a bit you may end up with a better result. If you try this, just add the flour, let it sit for a couple of hours to allow the flour to absorb the excess water, then refrigerate the dough to make it easier to handle.

      I’m assuming you are not baking at high altitude since you had success with the other recipes?

      Thanks, Zoë

  3. Hi Zoe,

    Again, thanks for the fast reply.

    I am only about 100 ft above sea level, so altitude is not the problem this time.

    In the past I have had good results baking the book 1 Master Recipe and the European Peasant bread as loaves and as rolls.

    In making the dough for the English Granary-style bread, I weighed out the flours according to the numbers on your web site, ww flour at 4 1/2 oz per cup and unbleached flour at 5 oz. All the other ingredients were measured by volume, and I used the ingredients listed — no substitutions.

    After mixing, the dough rose with its usual gusto, although perhaps not quite as much as the Master Recipe dough.

    So in effect, I followed the Granary-style bread recipe in your book as closely as I could, and used the same baking procedure that had worked well for the other recipes, but with pretty disappointing results.

    I know this is very subjective, but the granary dough actually seemed to be less sticky, less wet, than the Master Recipe dough. It is easier to handle, and easier to form into the boule shape.

    Peter

  4. I’m having a lot of trouble getting your recipes to work for me. I live in Fort Collins, CO (altitude of approx 4900 ft), and I have tried most of the suggestions in your high altitude FAQ. I started with the master recipe and tried one thing at a time; less yeast, more or less water, more salt and more vital wheat gluten. No matter what I do, I never get any rise after I shape my loaf–and I am very careful not to handle it much. The loaf is flat going into the oven, and I don’t get any “oven spring”. My loaves come out with a very dense crumb, sometimes almost rubbery. I seem to get a good initial rise, it fills my bowl (standard Kitchen-Aide) and then falls in the fridge overnight, and I bake the next day. I have a good baking stone and an oven thermometer, though my oven is VERY small. So far it’s been a lot of failed first loaves followed by pizza!

    I switched to the ten grain recipe, thinking I might have better luck with a recipe with a lower percentage of wheat flour. I had a little better outcome, but still little to no second rise or oven spring.

    In the winter my kitchen was rather cold, so I thought that might be a problem, but now of course it’s much warmer.

    Any suggestions? Can you give me a description of what the consistency should be for dough with the correct amount of water?

    Tracy

    • Tracy: The dough should look like it does in our videos (click the tab above). Any chance you are measuring wrong (need to do the scoop-and-sweep as in our books)? Any chance you are using bleached flour for the white (doesn’t work)? I’d guess it’s not the altitude if you’ve tried those suggestions and nothing’s improving.

      Which book are you using?

  5. Jeff,

    Thanks, I’ll check out the videos. I’m using a dry measuring cup and I think I’m doing the “scoop and sweep” correctly. The flours I have used are Whole Foods 365 Organic Unbleached All-Purpose flour and Wheatland Farms (Local to Colorado) Stoneground Organic Wheat Flour. Should I try another brand of flour? I like to use organic if possible.

    I have the book “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day”.

    Tracy

  6. Tracy: OK, that’s not it then. I’m assuming you are using the full dose of vital wheat gluten that we recommend as well.

    One possibility: sometimes, very coarsely-ground whole wheat will behave this way. We actually tested the recipes with commercial roller-mill whole wheat, which is finer and absorbs water more predictably. See if you think your stuff looks more or less wet than ours after you see the video.

    And maybe then try a batch with a more commercial-ground flour. Bob’s Red Mill has a stone-ground organic whole wheat that I’ve used for HBin5 recipes with good results.

    But to really do the test, try ordinary Gold Medal Whole Wheat. Not organic, but you could use it as a comparison point.

  7. Jeff,

    Thanks for the input. After watching the videos I think my dough looks less wet. I also think yours has more large air bubbles after rising.

    I have been using a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer with the dough hook. I read on one of your other FAQs that I should probably be using the paddle instead. Do you think there is an advantage to mixing by hand?

    Also, I leave my dough in the stainless steel bowl and cover loosely with saran-wrap. I noticed that the covering on your plastic bucket looks a bit tighter.

    I’ll give it a shot with some Gold Metal Whole wheat this weekend and see what happens….

    Thanks,
    Tracy

  8. Wondering what I am doing wrong…
    I have been trying the 100% whole-wheat recipe from the “Healthy Bread” book. It comes out very dense and damp inside, with a very tough crust, and a strange almost alcohol-like aftertaste (the last batch, this was so strong it was inedible, and we tossed it). The few times it appeared to rise properly, when I cut in, turns out it is still dense and damp, but with a big risen “bubble” sitting on top just under the crust.
    Am I leaving it too long before sticking it in the fridge, or have a bad flour:water ratio, or should I just go back to one of the part-whole/part-white recipes?
    Suggestions?

    Thanks!
    Laura

  9. hi there,
    i’m on my 3rd bucket and the same thing is happening the bread is gummy inside, i use a viking stove and tested the temp., i use scoop and measure, I watch all you videos, i use the correct flour, i test the bread after 35 min. and it’s internally over 200 deg. HELP!!! the birds are happy.

  10. Hi, I’m new to AB in 5 and am encountering a problem. So far, I have made the Boule and the Baguette. I start with a spotlessly clean oven, use a bread stone and pizza peel, set the oven to the right temperature and allow to preheat. I use an oven thermometer. Here is the problem. Some sort of brown googy stuff spills onto the sides and bottom of my oven and creates a smoke filled house plus an oven to clean. The bread has turned out great so what am I doing wrong. Please help me.

    • Hi Bettyanne,

      Are you using cornmeal to get the bread off the peel and into the oven? You may want to switch to a sheet of parchment paper (NOT waxed!). Just let the dough rest on the parchment, then slip the whole thing into the oven on the stone, bake as normal. About 10 minutes before the end of the baking slip the parchment out and let the bottom crust crisp up. I think this may help.

      This may also be the steam in your oven recirculating. Mine does this too, but it doesn’t produce any smoke, just steam!? It does leave mineral deposits on the bottom of my oven, which is what you may be seeing?

      Thanks, Zoe

  11. Hi, I’ve been thinking about my smoking oven problem and I’m suspecting that perhaps it might be that I oiled (with Canola oil) my racks along the edges after I did the high temperature oven clean. So I have now cleaned the oven again and washed the racks as best as I could. We’ll see when I bake the next load of bread in a couple of days. I’ll keep you posted if this was my problem. My 2nd loaf of bread (master recipe Boule) came out just fine. I’m going to try the Broa next.

  12. Hi! I am having trouble with a dense crumb, and from what I can tell I probably have dough that is too wet or too dry. What should the dough feel like when I’ve made it? How wet is too wet and how dry is too dry.

    Also, I’m not sure about the expiration date on my yeast, but things do rise. Although, I am getting a very small loaf (slices are about half the size of a store-bought sandwich loaf). Is that to be expected?

    Thanks
    Maria

    • Hi Maria,

      What kind of dough are you working with? You may find it helpful to watch some of our videos to see what the dough looks like. Just go to the video tab at the top of the page and select the one that fits the dough you are using.

      It sounds like you are baking in a loaf pan? This post may help: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=904

      Thank you, Zoe

    • Easiest way is to use a pastry brush to apply oil or melted butter. Or try an enriched dough from the books (challah, brioche, buttermilk, etc). Jeff

  13. Hi Zoe, thought I’d let you know that my problem with the smoking oven was apparently due to my greasing the sides of my racks. No problems with my bread baking over the weekend.

  14. BTW, I was looking at one of the chocolate breads to make for dessert and it calls for some rum to make a genach? with the cocoa. Can I make this bread without the rum?

  15. Hi Zoe and Jeff
    Yesterday I made the olive spelt bread and added some sun dried tomatoes in with the chopped olives. YUMMY!!! But, I have a question, can I freeze this type of bread for later baking?

    • Bettanne: Sounds like you want to parbake— which book are you working off of, I’ll tell you where to look. Jeff

  16. Hi Jeff, I am working on the 2nd book (Healthy); But I had heard that some of your wonderful breads could be frozen uncooked in 1 lb loaves; thawed for 24 hours, and then baked. Or, am I confused?

  17. Bettyanne: Oh, I get it now. Yes, you can do that. It tends to spread a bit sideways but it’s a decent result. I used to do this all the time, but I found it didn’t save much time over just shaping a new one from chilled dough. Eight hours in the fridge is prob long enough to thaw, then onto the counter for the usual resting time. Jeff

  18. Is there a way to calculate the amount of flour/water when you add steel cut oats/granola/whole wheat/five grains/regular oats, etc. for different variations of the basic white bread? i.e. if you add 1/2 c of steel cut oats do you simply subtract 1/2 c of the white flower and keep everything else the same or does it change for every different addition?

    Have really enjoyed basic loaf and variations and appreciate all the work that went into sharing this basic recipe.

    • Tom: In general, you have to add a little extra water when you make a 1:1 switch like that. Those grains tend to be drier. Will take some experimentation.

      If you keep the proportion low, less water; if you use more, then the water compensation has to be more dramatic.

  19. Hi. I have both of the books and the tastes of these breads is the best I’ve ever had. I read the books like novels. I use the right flour, measures, technique…..BUT my breads are normally very wet feeling and gummy in the center. TASTE is great though, and they look fabulous. I’ve added up to 1/2 cup extra flour and tried all things mentioned here…same result. I worry that if I keep adding flour, i’ll loose the whole purpose of wet dough gluten formation. I’ve seen blogs on an 18 hour method that seems to have a beautiful crumb. is this worth a try with your breads. i don’t care about storing them, I bake every day anyway….

    • Christy: We always prefer our dough after it’s stored a while– 24 hours is a good starting point, frankly. I almost never make my stuff on the same day as it was mixed. Have you tried keeping the flour the same but decreasing the water? Any chance you’re using bleached flour where unbleached is called for? Are you using the “scoop-and-sweep” method to measure? As in http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=1801

      Jeff

  20. Bobbi: As you can see, we get lots of traffic on the site, and occasionally we simply miss a question. Sorry about that.

    That said, I’m a bit stumped. If your temperature inside the oven is good, using the right flour (unbleached for white recipes), and you’re baking the right amount of time, the only explanation for a gummy loaf would be that your dough, for whatever reason, is too wet. If this is the explanation, just decrease the water by a quarter-cup and see what happens (may have to repeat the decrease if that doesn’t do the trick).

    But if this were true, I’d really expect that you’d have also said that the dough was very hard to handle (sticks to everything). Jeff

  21. Hello Jeff.

    I bought your book a few days ago and today I decided to try the Master recipe. I followed everything mentioned except I cannot find unbleached purpose flour easily in my country. So I substitute for bread flour, which I increased by 1/3 cup per 6 cups.

    This is not my 1st time baking bread but after being very careful following everything, the bread always turned out dense. They have nice air holes but the crumbs…1st they are not white in color. 2nd is the taste was perfect but the texture..very disappointing!

    What I do wrong here? I can’t find unbleached all purpose flour so I can only use bread flour. do you have any suggestion and advice? I am pretty upset because I was hoping to bake a good bread. Where can I submit photo so you can easily determined what went wrong with my bread? Thank you.

    Your book is great and wonderful. I’d love to try all the recipe if I can successfully baked one perfect bread.

    • Han: My best guess, is that the flour you have isn’t quite at the protein level of North American bread flour. Go back to the lower-water version (the original) and I bet you’ll be fine.

      In other words, I’m guessing that your dough was too wet. That leads to over-density. But that said, keep in mind that our results are always denser than supermarket bread. Where are you located? Jeff

  22. I am from Malaysia, in Klang Valley.

    What is the original version of water? Before I tried your recipe, I used several other recipes but all of them turned out dense.

    • Hi Han,

      I’m not sure what you mean by “original version of water?” Can you explain your question a bit more and I can try to help you.

      Thank you, Zoë

  23. Jeff
    thanks for the suggestion. I’ll try decreasing the amount of water in the next batch. I’m so new to this I didn’t know if my dough was too wet or not.

  24. Hi Zoe! Thanks for accepting friend request!

    I was referring to what Jeff said “Go back to the lower-water version (the original) and I bet you’ll be fine.”

    I did not add more water to the dough, I just add 1/3 cup of bread flour to 6 cups of bread flour. However, the bread was very dense but I like the chewy crumbs!

    Anyway, the dough left in the fridge is enough for another 2 loaves, can I add more bread flour to the dough? And how many cup should I add the the finished dough?

    Thank you Jeff and Zoe.

  25. Han: You can often mix in flour (if it seems to wet), or water (if it seems too dry) after the initial mix. It’s a bit risky, esp with the water, since you’ll knock gas out of the dough, and retained gas is the reason our method works.

    Keep experimenting with the flours available to you. Which of our books are you using? Jeff

  26. Hello Zoe & Jeff.

    I added 2/3 cup of flour to the dough and the bread was better. Still chewy and not too dense. I think I will add another 1/3 cup to the dough today. Thank you very much for the help!

  27. Jeff in regards to your july 12th response to me, i tried decreasing the amount of water, and IT WORKED, thanks you so much. funny i watched so many of your videos before starting making the bread and never noticed that my dough wasn’t the same as yours, mine as you said was so wet and sticky. you and Zoe are a couple of geniuses and i can’t thank you enough.
    now bread making is no longer a laborious chore
    thanks again, bobbi

  28. I’ve been trying out your method for a couple months now and love the results I get on the baking stone for free form loaves like ciabatta. I’m having a real problem getting good rise and a springy loaf in loaf pans though – resulting in a dense crumb as many people have described here. I’ve been very careful not to handle the dough long while shaping and have experimented with various resting times. I think my real problem is in getting the dough out of the dough bucket. The moment I touch it to grab a handful and cut, it deflates tremendously – all those good gas bubbles gone – and then I never get it back. What is your trick to not losing all that initial rise?

  29. Jeff, Thanks for responding. I’m using the scoop and sweep, and whatever flour is called for. I’ve tried 80% of the recipes in your book (I love bread!).

    I experimented with the wheat master and white flour master. Here’s what I found.
    I made a batch of wheat with more flour then split in two. Prepped one as you suggest and it was better but still dense. I left the other on the counter for 18 hours and baked. even better! I’m going to try more flour and do it again.

    with the white, I simply added more flour and baked after just a quick chill. It was WONDERFUL. I don’t know what I did, because my husband ate it all and wanted more. I did it again and I got dense and gummy! Ugh!

    So I’m wondering if you have any videos that really show the texture of the dough before and after baking (cut open). not so much the mixing and shaping, but a really good image of the dough itself?
    I feel like I’m yo-yoing on a bread diet!

  30. Do you have any videos of the gluten free process? It would be really helpful for me to see what the dough is supposed to look like (i.e. texture, wettness).

    I have another batch in the works right now and decreased the water. The loaves that I have made before were (what I think) way too wet. I did not get much rise out of the loaves and they were hard to form.

    Any help would be appreciated!
    Thanks!
    carrie

    • Hi Carrie,

      I am just now playing with my video camera and will plan to make one of the g-f dough once I have it down. When you measure the flour are you using the scoop and sweep method? Spooning the flour into the cup will result in a dough that is too wet.

      Thanks, Zoë

  31. Thanks for responding so quickly!
    Yes, I am doing the scoop and sweep method… as best as possible. cornstarch seems to be a little difficult in that department.

    A visual of the dough would be so incredibly helpful. Thank You!

    • Hi Carrie,

      Yes, those starches want to fly all over. I will try to get that video sooner than later, still figuring out the technology.

      Thanks, Zoë

  32. Hello Zoe & Jeff.

    I am back again with a question.

    1st. My first batch gone within 5 days (my hubby doesn’t eat as much as I do-he said the bread not up to his tastes). Now I make another batch. I noticed the initial rising time was around 4-6 hours. I used instant yeast (the only yeast the store has). I followed your master recipe in ABin5 , 1 1/2 tbsp yeast. The bread sour (I liked the smell) but is it a normal? The initial rising time up to 6 hours?

    Thank you.

    • Han: The sour smell is normal; that’s what we’re going for in our method– over the storage time, you get sourdough characteristics like what you experienced.

      Can explain the slow rise, but it’s not a problem. May be a different type of yeast than what we use. Where are you located? Jeff

  33. Hi Jeff.

    I am from Malaysia. Anyway, I added about 2 cups flour to the dough but the bread was dense as usual. Wonder what else I do wrong??

  34. Han: My guess is the the flour available to you is lower in protein than what we use. Our recipes that call for white flour are based on U.S.-style all-purpose flour, which is 10% protein by weight. If the flour available to you in Malaysia is lower than that, this would explain the problem. You could add vital wheat gluten to the mixture to add protein, if that’s available to you; see our post on the use of this ingredient at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=142.

    So check the nutrition label; see if there are at least three grams protein in every 30 gram serving size. It may be labeled differently in Malaysia, so you may have to do the math yourself– we’re looking for protein content at around 10%. Jeff

  35. hello,
    I’m just starting to really get into bread baking, but working full time, it had been hard finding the time to proof the yeast, so your book “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” has been amazing. Last night I made the herbed potato and roasted garlic bread and it was my first time halving a recipe, and the dough didn’t really rise as it usually does. Having read your FAQ, I’m guessing I didn’t add enough water, though I ended up adding a little over 2 cups. The dough looks dry. My question is, can I salvage the dough, or should I chalk this up to experience and start over again?

    Thanks,
    Alex

    • Alex: Float a eighth of a cup of water on the surface of the dough, poke some holes in there with your fingers, and the dough will absorb the water in 4 hours or so (leave in fridge. If it’s not all absorbed, “encourage” it with your fingers in the storage vessel. I’ve done this before, and yes, you can salvage.

      Can’t figure out why you should have gotten different results when halving– maybe just a measurement error. It’s easier to measure larger quantities accurately. Jeff

  36. Hello Zoe and Jeff,

    I love your book and it has eliminated my fear of baking bread.

    I love to bake your Garlic Bread. One concern I had was whenever I bake the garlic bread, by the time I remove the bread from the oven the garlic pieces on top of the bread are burnt.

    Do you have any tips to avoid the garlic bits from getting charred?

    Thanks
    Cyrus

    • Cyrus: Your oven may be running hot, check with something like http://bit.ly/czmco2 .

      Also, baking closer to the bottom of the oven will brown the bottom more than the top of the rolls or bread, so that’s worth a try too. If all else fails, just turn down the heat 25 or 50 degrees and just bake longer (15 to 20% or so). Jeff

  37. Just got your Artisian Bread book a few weeks ago. Love everything I’ve tried so far.

    I have a favor to ask! I grew up in Philadelphia but have been living in CA for for almost 30 years now. I really miss those deli hoagie rolls I had growing up, with a real thin but crisp crust and a light crumb. Could you suggest a recipe thant would get me something close to those?

    Thanks!
    David

  38. Zoe,

    Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll give it a try! I just ordered your Healthy Bread book, and so look forward to your Flatbread book when it comes out!

    Thanks,
    Dave

  39. I tried making the rye bread from HBi5, but I couldn’t get any rise :(

    I have a theory – I have been using a silicone mat because I could not for the life of me get a proper slide off another surface – the dough would always catch and i’d get some crazy-looking loaves if I was at least able to get it onto the stone.

    is it possible that silicone mats don’t have enough friction to allow for the dough’s edges to stay in the same place have the dough rise? it seems like all just slides out to the side. I’d try parchment paper but I can’t find anything rated higher than 400F :(

    also, the dough always seems to be crazy-sticky. any tips for preventing it from sticking to one’s hands? once a little bit of dough sticks to my fingers it all goes to heck, because that dough sticks to other dough and i end up over-flouring the whole thing. FWIW I am doing half-batches based on weight of ingredients

    • Hi Terry,

      What brand of flour are you using?

      It sounds like your dough, for what ever reason, is too wet. If you add a 1/4 cup more flour you may solve the problem of the rise and the stickiness of the dough. You may even want to add an additional tablespoon of vital wheat gluten.

      Thanks, Zoë

  40. I’ll give that a shot, thanks! I’ll let you know how it goes.
    I just buy bulk stuff from local purveyor’s in Toronto – usually Rube’s Flour or another store called Simply Bulk. They have fairly quick turnover so it’s fresh stuff and quite cheap – and all listed as Organic (to be honest though, I’m not even sure what that means for flour or what difference it makes… it’s all they stock though).

    • Terry: Organic means no chemical herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers used on the crops. I can’t tell the difference in terms of flavor or recipe performance, but I do use organic flour whenever I can. Not sure what to say in terms of the health effect– it’s certainly not clear, but I’ve been avoiding non-organic for a while. Jeff

  41. My husband and son gave me your book for my birthday and I love your it. I am getting nice crisp crusts in the boules and great oven spring with unbleached white flour. However, I don’t seem to be able to get an airy texture with big jagged holes. The texture has rather smaller holes and a moist crumb. I have tried measuring both by scoop & sweep and weight, overnight rise of shaped dough the the refrigerator and slightly drier and moister dough. I have also tried letting the shaped boule rise on the counter for up to 2 hours after removing it from the refirgerator. I still can’t get the crackling ping as I remove the loaves but the crust is still excellent. How do I get a more airy texture and bigger air holes in the finished boule?

    Thanks

    • Hi Kathy,

      What kind of flour are you using? Are you baking from ABin5 or HBin5?

      Do you have an oven thermometer? The temperature of your oven is key to success. You may also need to allow for a longer preheat so that your stone is really up to the full temperature.

      How old is the dough that you are baking?

      We will try to get your loaves to have the texture you desire.

      Thanks, Zoë

  42. Dear Zoe,

    I am using Gold Medal unbleached AP flour. The recipe is from ABin5. Yes, i have an oven thermometer and have been baking at 450. The oven is a KitchenAid convection and I have found that if I bake at 475, the outside is nearly burnt before the inside is fully bakes. I have been using dough from 1 to 5 days old and the age doesn’t seem to make a significant difference. My most successful loaf has been from shaped dough that had an overnight cool rise and then a 2 hr room temperture rise. I’m open to any suggestions.

    Thanks

    • Hi Kathy,

      Are you baking with the convection heat (fan) or conventional heat? If you use the convection mode you need to turn the temperature down by about 20 degrees to adjust for the intensity of the heat. The fan creates an environment that will produce a lovely loaf, but if it is too hot the outside crust will bake before the interior is finished. You may also need to rotate your loaf for the last 5 minutes so that the other side of the loaf is getting the intense heat, most ovens only blow the hot air in one direction.

      Let me know if this sounds right. Zoë

  43. Your whole wheat sandwich bread recipe calls for a loaf pan. But, then you mention using a stone. How does one use a pan with a stone? Put the pan on the stone, or skip the pan and use the stone? Or, what?

    • Hi Lynnette,

      You can leave your stone in the oven to bake everything, it helps to create an even heat. Just place the loaf pan on the preheated stone. This does require you to let the stone preheat, which takes quite a bit longer. You can also remove the stone and just bake it on the rack.

      Hope that clears it up. Thanks! Zoë

  44. Hello Zoe and Jeff,

    Last night I tried baking the breadsticks with Olive Oil and rosemary from your ABin5 book. I used the 100% Whole Wheat as the master dough. I baked them for around 14-15 minutes.

    They taste great but turned out soft. How do I make sure that they are crispy?

    Thanks
    Cyrus

    • Hi Cyrus,

      That dough will be a challenge to get really crispy, but your best bet is to stretch them as thin as you possibly can so that they will dry out in the oven. Be sure to keep an eye on them as they bake and take out the ones that are done so the rest can continue to bake. Zoë

      Thanks! Zoë

  45. I am using a true convection oven with a fan. That is why I have been baking at 450 instread of 475. I will try rotating for the last 5 minutes of baking time but I don’t think that’s going to solve the texture problem. I am using the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid to mix just until everything is incorporated – could I be over-mixing? Also, should the pan for the water go on a rack above or below the baking stone? Its one way in the book but I have seen it the other in some corrections on this website. Thanks

    • Kathy: Over-mixing is always a possibility— no way to know except to switch to hand-mixing for one batch and see what you think. Doesn’t sound like that’s the issue since you stop as soon as everything’s incorporated.

      I find that if the oven traps steam well, it doesn’t matter exactly where the steam comes from. Generally we say below, though. Jeff

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