Gray color and liquid on my dough: Is there something wrong?

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As your dough stores in the refrigerator, it might develop a uniform gray discoloration and liquid on its surface.  This is not mold and can be safely ignored– it won’t affect the final baked result. You can just pour off the liquid and proceed with the recipe.

If you see patchy light or dark areas on your dough, whether smooth or fuzzy, that could be mold and the dough should be discarded. You are not likely to see mold if you follow our directions for maximum storage life, and keep the dough in the refrigerator.

If the dough has become hard and leathery, that suggests that there’s too much air-space in your container (or that it isn’t sealed well enough).  You can decrease the effect of air that gets into the container by transferring into smaller containers as the dough is getting used up.

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

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126 thoughts on “Gray color and liquid on my dough: Is there something wrong?

  1. I’ve noticed that this seems to happen more with freshly ground flour than with store-bought flour. Am I just imagining things?

    • Andrew: Not sure— I didn’t see that when I experimented w/freshly ground, but then, I don’t let it sit very long. I bake at least once/day. Jeff

      • Jeff;
        Lots of comments on grey patches on refrigerated dough. I’ve experienced that on my dough too and just wrote it off to the dough drying out. Most fridges are frost free now and do a good (too good) job of removing moisture from the fridge as well as removing frost from the freezer portion. Since the grey patches I’ve experienced we’re also tough I just thought they were dried out dough. I tried covering the surface of the dough with plastic wrap and that cured the problem for me except, of course, for the spots where the plastic wrap didn’t completely cover the dough. Those dry bits are hard to reincorporate into the loaf for cooking so I discard them. The loaf I’m baking today is with dough that is almost three weeks old. I’ll Let you know how it turns out.

      • Hmm., I find that the grey bits bake out just fine and I can’t tell there was a problem. Let us know what you find though.

      • Jeff;
        You just can’t make a bad loaf with this method. This batch I just finished off was the second I’ve made with your method. Both batches were European Peasant Bread. Gets rave reviews from my kids. This second batch was a bit on the moist side compared to the first batch and the last loaf I made today was really moist. I thought it would be a flat bread but it popped nicely in the oven and tasted really good. I doubled the amount of both rye and whole wheat flours and like I said in my precious post this loaf was in the fridge for almost three weeks. The taste I’m looking for is there now. You are right about the dry bits cooking up okay. They may have a denser crumb but still okay.

  2. This just happened to me! I had the Boule dough in my fridge. We made Pita bread for 3 nights, and then it sat for about a week. I knew we had to use it up soon, so we decided to make the Spinach and Cheese Calzone – with a few ingredients added. I opened my container of dough and it was grey. It didn’t smell moldy or anything bad, so we used it. Once I got the dough in my hands and started forming it into a ball, the grey color went away. The Calzone turned out yummy, by the way! I’ll be writing about it in my blog soon.

  3. Hi Zoe and Jeff,
    I just bought your book, Atrisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and have made a few loaves of bread and I’m loving it. However, I made some pizza recently @ a temp of 550. That’s as high as my oven goes and my stone cracked in half! What happened? :(
    Betty

    • Betty: They’re fired at a temperature much greater than 550, but stones definitely don’t last forever, unfortunately. Sorry to hear yours broke. The half-inch thick ones tend to much much more durable than the quarter-inch thick ones. Hope that’s helpful in guiding the next purchase. Alternative: the cast-iron “stones,” which basically can’t crack. Jeff

  4. Jeff, that’s really interesting–I have never heard of a cast-iron baking “stone” before. Have you tried one? I’m curious whether cast-iron works as well as stone even though it’s non-porous. Very intriguing.

    • Andrew: I’ve baked right on my cast-iron pan; only difference is the sides and that shouldn’t affect anything. Zoe’s used that cast-iron “stone” with great results. Jeff

  5. I halved the basic boule recipe, converted it to metric, and the two first mini-loaves turned out delicious!

    However, after being left for 8 days in the fridge, the rest of my dough turned a bit leathery and grey on the top, no doubt due to too big a container as you describe, but underneath the “skin” it got bubbly, very, very wet and developed a sharp, tangy smell.

    I did try to bake it anyway as an experiment in kitchen chemistry, but didn’t add enough flour for the dough to keep its shape properly. While the end result’s shape and texture turned out fine, the tiny bit I tried was too sharp and tangy to be really edible – I could feel it on my tongue for at least 10 minutes later!

    Can you tell what exactly happened to the last 8-days-old bit of my dough? Did I try to bake a batch of sourdough starter?

    And since I made the next batch in the same bowl with scrapings of old dough mixed in, are there any food safety issues that I should be afraid of?

    • Hi Reetta,

      This has happened to me when I leave the dough without using it for several days. If you use the dough every few days it doesn’t seem to happen. Just the act of sprinkling a little flour over the dough when you reach in to take a piece out of the bucket seems to feed the yeast and keep it alive and thriving. by letting it sit for so long the dough loses its strength. I usually just use it as a “sour” starter for my next batch of dough and add the fresh ingredients to the bucket and mix it all together. As long as there is no dairy or eggs in the dough there is no safety issues at all.

      Thanks, Zoë

  6. Thank you, Zoë!

    The old dough was the basic master recipe – no dairy or eggs, so no fear of spoilage. I’ll have to remember to “feed” the dough if I ever have to leave it sitting in the fridge.

    I baked a loaf from the new batch today (master recipe, with half dark bread flour and half basic wheat), and the bread rose beautifully and tastes good! I’ve only baked rolls and flatbread before, and it seems to be very easy to get good bread with your method.

    By the way – would it be all right if I put up the metric version of the master recipe in Finnish on my blog (linking back here, of course)? I’m not sure of the etiquette, but even though I hardly ever update and don’t really have any readers, it’s still public so I thought it would be best to ask first.

    Thanks!
    Reetta

    • Reeta: Technically, we have to ask that you adapt the recipe— that is, change it in some way, or someone might think we are giving permission to waive our copyright (which we cannot). But an adapted recipe is fine. And the links back are much appreciated.

      We’d be delighted to hear that people in Finland are baking with our approach. Jeff

  7. Your recipes say it’s OK to use a heavy-duty stand mixer “with paddle” – but I’m not sure if that means the “flat beater” that comes with my mixer? It also has a “dough hook” – which should I use?

    • Suzanne: The dough hook isn’t great with wet dough. He paddle is better— it looks like a pine tree, kind of. I’m guessing that this is the flat beater that your instruction manual must be referencing. If it can’t get through the dough, you know you need to switch to the other attachment. Jeff

  8. Why use kosher salt in all of your bread? Is there a problem with using seasalt? I use redmonds seasalt -minimal processing from local health food store.
    Thanks

    • Hi Dee,

      Sea salt is wonderful and you can certainly use it. The issue is how coarsely ground it is. It may take a try or two to get the flavor you want. We recommend kosher because it is easy to find and commonly used for baking.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  9. I want to make the 10 grain bread recipe substituting a 7 grain flour for the Bob’s. The 7 grain flour has rye, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oat, yellow corn meal and soy flours. Can I do it by just adding more water? How much more? 4 cups? should I add more gluten?
    Thanks so much

    • Amy: Sounds like you could use this very-similar mixture in that recipe without any liquid changes. So long as you don’t change the overall amount of grainy flour. Jeff

  10. Has anyone had any luck using bread pans NOT coated in non-stick? I know the sticky dough may stick but I’d like to avoid non-stick. I only use cast iron, glass and stainless in my cooking.
    Thanks

    • Amy: In many cases glazed stonewear, well-greased, will work. No promises though, but I had good experience with a heavyweight stonewear loaf pan once. Be sure it is glazed. Jeff

    • I use black cast iron pans for my bread with a strip of parchment on the bottom. If the pans are pretty well seasoned you should have no problem. I usually don’t even grease the sides but if you aren’t sure of the seasoning then just wipe some Crisco on the sides and they will be fine. Mine falls right out of the pan.

  11. Great! Thank you so much for both answers! I’ve got my eyes on the glazed loaf pan from William Sonoma. Yipee! Can’t wait to try my bread with the 7 grain. Thanks for your help!

  12. @Amy Mason
    I’ve baked in unglazed stoneware, as well as enameled cast iron, with disastrous sticking. I imagine glass would do the same, although I haven’t tried it in my nonstick Pyrex. I haven’t tried it directly on my cast iron pizza pan. Parchment paper, however, is a lifesaver & timesaver for many things. You can work on, rise, transfer your dough on it, & it’s terrific nonstick liner. I use a nonbleached parchment paper & it’s great.
    Hope to hear how your glazed W-S pan goes. :}

    • I imagine unglazed stoneware and enameled anything would be difficult. My cast iron pans have been used many times and now they are just as seasoned an cast iron frying pans. I never use anything but hot water to clean them with so they stay seasoned. I like the taste of food cooked in cast iron.

  13. I do not like my food to come into contact with plastics. Consequently, I make and store my dough in a stainless steel pasta pot. The lid is heavy, so I am wondering about your “no airtight lid” caveat. What is the reason for the rule against airtight lids, and is my pasta pot lid OK?
    By the way, I have not purchased a loaf of bread in the store since first seeing your basic recipe in “Mother Earth News”. I immediately purchased your first book. I have a busy life, but making fresh bread and pizza every day or two is a pleasure. Life cannot be all work and bad bread.
    - Irene

    • Hi Irene,

      Your pot is just fine to store the dough in. The reason we say to use a lid that is not airtight is so that the gas from the yeast can escape, and that will certainly happen with a pot lid.

      So pleased to hear you are baking so much bread! Enjoy, Zoë

  14. Hello,

    I’ve made a few of the recipes in the Healthy Breads book, and they’ve come out great except that they often have a very strong alcohol smell–strongest when I slice them while they’re still warm, but it doesn’t go away completely after they cool. Is this normal, or am I doing something wrong? Is it harmful to eat? Thanks!

    • Katie: We’ve found a wide variety in people’s ability to detect this alcohol smell. You can usually get rid of it by venting the storage container (leave it open a crack or drill a hole in the lid) for the first 48 hours of storage.

      And best not to slice when warm, for this reason and others.

  15. I forgot I made dough and it sat out for 48 hours? Is it safe to still use it? It does have blackish-grey dots but maybe that’s the gray film you are all talking about. Thanks for any advice!

    • Autumn: It seems hard to imagine that mold formed within 48 hours, but blackish-grey dots mean mold until proven otherwise. I’ve never seen it, and as I say, that’s probably not what it is, but to be safe I’d throw it away.

    • I have used break maker wholegrains bread mixture + 1.5 cups of bread flower to make this dough. (I have bought your book and will buy few more for Xmas presents) I have forgotten to put it in the fridge so it sat on the kitchen bench for 8 hours. Two days later (i’ve also used up the bits left overs dough from last weeks and mixed it all in with the new dough) the dough smells really strong..like beer but more acidy.sourish…I cant see any discolouration or growth on the doug. the bread rose even better then last week but too scared to eat it. Is it safe to use dough and eat this bread?

      • No evidence of mold from what you say here, but it may be over-soured in flavor. You can use it as a “seed” for new dough if you don’t like the taste of this one.

      • Thank you for your response. I meant Bread Maker grain bread mixture was incorporated with plain flour. It doesnt smell any more..strangely enough. and bread is much nicer with the second lot of dough. Have put it in the smaller Tupperware container with the yellow lid slightly open so that air can escape. now the dough doesn’t look so wet but it has that same texture that I have seen in your book. Probably using leftover dough and mixing it with the new batch of flour was just what it needed. I was worried that by using the Bread maker bread flour mixture with grains, because it contains other stuff in there not just plain flour that it may spoil the dough, but no, it tastes fantastic. I can now donate my bread maker machine. Nada

  16. Just read your ABin5 and anxious to try the master recipe. All recipes using the pizza stone call for cornmeal or flour on the pizza peal to facilitate transfer to the stone – yet, on your website recipe for whole wheat bread, you suggest parchment paper to prepare loaf and then slide both loaf and paper onto the stone. That seems so much simpler so my question is: does parchment paper diminish the effect of the stone in any way?

    • Jo: It’s something of a matter of opinion. My all-time favorite bottom crust result is with cornmeal; but parchment is much much cleaner in the oven; I use it whenever I have lots of baking to do and don’t want to clean out cornmeal between loaves. The parchment tends to result in a less-crisp bottom crust but you can mitigate against that by peeling off the parchment two-thirds of the way through baking and finishing right on the stone or even a bare oven shelf.

  17. So I made a batch about a week ago and made a loaf. It was good, but then I left the dough in the refrigerator for a week.

    When I went back to it today, I noticed that the dough had a distinct smell like scotch! I didn’t notice any real discoloration or mold forming, so I prepared to make another loaf (using a 90 min. rest and 30 min. bake at 475). After baking and letting it mostly cool, I tried a piece – it still smells and tastes slightly of alcohol. Is this normal, or should I throw out this batch and start a new batch? More importantly, how can I keep this from happening again? I want to work towards more of a sourdough flavor, but I’m not sure I like how it is currently.

    • Hi David,

      This is the normal biproduct of the yeast. It is harmless, but some people do not care for the flavor. I too am sensitive to it. The way to avoid this is to allow the gases to escape from the bucket. If you drill a very small hole in the top of your bucket it will allow those gases to escape. Check out the lid on my bucket in this post: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=1616, it will show you how small it needs to be to get the job done.

      Thanks, Zoë

  18. Zoe,

    Thanks for the quick repsonse! What I don’t understand is that I didn’t even snap the lid shut. I left the lid just resting on top of the bucket (a square, 6 qt Camware bucket) in the fridge. Do you think I should also put venting holes in the top, or do you think not having the lid on possibly let other undesirable elements into the bucket and contaminated the dough?

    I like the sourdough, but this is not sourdough.

    But now I get to make another batch and try again!

    After letting the bread that I baked rest for the last day or so, it still has an alcoholic smell to it. At this point I’m thinking I need to throw out

  19. David: Tough to explain given that you are leaving the top open– but maybe, as you suggest, that wasn’t quite enough ventilation, so give it a shot to put a venting hole into that top.

    But— I’m guessing that you might prefer the result when you are frequently dusting the top with flour and removing some dough from the surface. The problem may have been that you left it undisturbed for a week. If you’re going to do that, consider transferring to a smaller container (with less air space above the dough).

    I don’t think this was a contamination problem.

    One other option: Consider the low-yeast version, see our FAQs page and scroll down. Jeff

  20. Hi,
    I also had the same problem with grayish spots on the remaining dough surface after 1 week. smells ok though but did not dare to bake it just in case. Luckily i baked 1 boule already. In Singapore, it’s not that easy to buy a great loaf of artisan bread at a resonable price and i’m amazed that i could actually bake it.
    Thanks for the great recipe and i am eagerly waiting for your new book to come here!

    • Hi Lara,

      I’m glad that you had a chance to try the one loaf. If you don’t feel like you will use up all the dough you may want to freeze it.

      Thanks, Zoë

  21. Zoe,
    if i were to freeze the dough, how long can i keep it in the freezer?and how long do i need to defrost it before i start shaping and proofing it?
    Thanks, Lara

    • Lara: Freeze for up to 2 weeks in 1-pound portions, leave overnight in fridge to defrost then shape and rest as usual the next day. Jeff

  22. On page 55-56 (Allow to Rise) in the Healthy Bread book, you mention plastic buckets for dough. I bought a couple plastic 6 qt buckets with lids (like the ones sold from King Arthur). If I understand correctly, I should leave the bucket open a crack for rising on the counter??? And leave it open a crack for rising the first 48 hours in the refrigerator???

    Also, it is hard to leave the bucket open a crack without the whole lid coming off with my brand. Is it okay to put the lid sealed on for rising on the counter and the refrigerator? I ended up getting some grey and dry dough (just on the top) when I tried to leave it open a crack. Thanks! You are awesome!

    • Tisha: You understand the directions correctly.

      The grey color is harmless but yes, it’s a sign of too much venting. If you’re not noticing an off flavor when you seal sooner, go ahead and do it– not everyone is sensitive to the alcohol/yeast smell that you get if you seal. Leave it open a crack for the beginning though or the top will blow off.

  23. I noticed with cheap acrylic plastic containers (older flour and sugar canisters we owned) that after a few dough batches, all my dough started smelling and all had a sour dough taste (bad for things like Challah!). I finally realized that the areas that were scratched on the inside were holding just enough dough or something, despite my hot washings. I now have the Cambro ones and am now back into baking breads. Watch out for cheap containers!

    • Hi Diana,

      Thank you for this, I’m sure others have had the same experience and will be interested to hear your solution!

      Thanks, Zoe

  24. I made a batch of oatmeal dough with maple syrup. I just took it out from the fridge after 7 days and found some brown patches with a alcoholic/fermented/sourish smell. Is it spoit or is it okay to use. Please hurry!!

    • Hi ivy,

      When a dough has sat for that long without being used it will often have the alcohol smell that you describe, which is a natural byproduct of the yeast. A brownish liquid may also form on the surface of the dough. But, if you suspect that it is a mold and not just a discoloration it is best to toss the dough.

      In the future if you suspect that you will not be using the dough for several days you may consider freezing the dough.

      Hope that helps! Zoë

  25. I’ve been having pretty good luck for an engineer, but think maybe I’m overmixing the dough, and/or storing it in a too large container. The crusts are a bit too tough to cut through. I am using a Kitchenaid with paddle, half batches, and storing in the mixer bowl.

    • Cliff: Just mix long enough to distribute all the dry ingredients evenly, and don’t use a container larger than we recommend. Some people benefit from transferring to smaller containers as they use up the dough.

      That bowl may present your dough with too much surface area, try a taller container. If you’re covering with a towel, switch to plastic wrap.

      To soften the crusts, brush with oil or butter before baking, or cool under a clean kitchen towel. Jeff

  26. I came looking for answers to two questions. Found the answer about the gray/purple haze on my dough. Today I opened the bucket to make my last boule and noticed an extremely yeasty smell. It did not smell bad, just very much like beer. I also noticed the dough seemed to be wetter than normal. It’s on the counter rising now but is it still ok? This week is week 2 of dough life.

  27. I’m not sure I’m asking this in the right place, but with the last two loaves I baked of the master recipe I noticed that the dough was grey after I cooked it. There were grey patches in the cooked loaf. What could have caused that? The bread tasted fine but was a bit chewy.

    • Hi Neal,

      Sometimes the older dough will get a grey color to it and sometimes a liquid on top of the dough. All of this is a natural byproduct of the dough and not at all harmful. To avoid this from happening I have started to put a small hole in the lid of my bucket, which allows the gases from the yeast to escape which means I don’t get this discoloring. As seen in this post: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=1616

      I hope this helps! Zoë

  28. Love the books. I use the dutch oven method with parchment. A small amount of parchment always sticks to the bottom of the loaf. It is so baked into the bottom crust I can’t remove it.

    • Hi Sue,

      This has happened to me with certain brands of parchment paper. You may want to try a different brand, but in the mean time you can put a bit of cornmeal on the parchment before you place the dough on it, this has helped with sticking for me.

      Hope this helps! Zoë

  29. I have bought both of your books. I bought the first one about 6 months ago and I am very happy with the results of everything I have tried out of it. I just tried the herbed potato and roasted garlic bread. I left the dough in the frig for about five days before I checked on it. There was the grey haze to it that other people have commented on but also the potato itself that was sticking up out of the dough have turned black. Did I do something wrong?

    • Hi Sherry,

      Chances are that it is just the normal discoloration of the dough and the potato. If you leave a cut potato on the counter for just an hour is will discolor. You can avoid the discoloration of the dough by piercing a hole in the lid, which allows the build up of gas from the yeast to escape. You can see the size in the video I made about rising dough: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=2358

      Thanks, Zoë

  30. I can’t seem to get a good slash in the dough before baking – I’ve used a long, serrated knife, a short serrated knife and a single edge razor blade – nothing works. Help, please!

    • Hi Shirley,

      Is the dough too sticky? If so, your dough may be a bit too wet? The other issue is that you may not be using enough flour when shaping the loaf. You may want to watch one of our videos to see if your dough is behaving similarly.

      Thanks, Zoë

  31. Help, I made a batch of dough, refrigerated it, and after 4 days, opened it and it was gray! Is this safe, no mold smell or fuzz on it, but the bottom of the dough is not gray. Is this safe to bake???

    • Hi Janet,

      Yes, this can happen with dough that has not been used in a few days. It is not at all harmful and the dough can be used as normal!

      Thanks, Zoë

  32. My first two batches were made with Stone Buhr AP unbleached flour, fresh yeast, and extra water, since the dough was dried tatters with 3 cups. Another full cup was needed to incorporate everything.

    Each baked loaf stayed the same size as it left the main batch, rested, and came out of the oven. Density is like fruitcake. Oven temp checks–new thermometer.

    Flour might be 5 or 6 years old; there’s a barely detectable rancid odor in the second batch. New flour is the last variable; trying that tomorrow.

    Need good bread for the Duck victory over Auburn on Monday!

    Bill

    • Hi Bill,

      From what I can gather the Stone Buhr flour is higher in protein than typical AP flours. This is why it requires more water than our standard recipe.

      It sounds like you may need to let your loaves rest longer before baking to get a better interior crumb. I would let the 1-pound loaf rest for about 1 hour and see if that improves the texture.

      Thanks, Zoë

  33. Just gotta say I LOVE you guys! I came to find out if the grey color on top of my dough was OK. I’m using fresh ground flour, and didn’t see anything about that in the book. I found my answer, but couldn’t leave without sending some adoration your way.
    I’ve made homemade bread for years, with big expensive equipment, and it was a hassle to do. After I found Healthy Bread in 5, I’ve sold my mixer, because we LOVE the bread. The dough is easy enough for even my kids to mix. I only have to throw it in the oven!
    I have to tell you a funny story also while I’m here. My kids and I watched the video on Amazon when I went to order your books. After I baked my first loaf, my six year old said “Mom, you’re a genius!”
    Thanks, Zoe and Jeff

  34. I continued mixing my next dough in the same stainless steel bowl so as to improve the flavour. I left it covered with a cotton towel at room temp (28 degree C) on the counter top to rise. 14 hours later I found grey patches on top of the surface but no liquid. Is this discoloration or mold? Can I still use the dough?

  35. I have Healthy Breads and Artisans Bread, I have mostly used the later. Can I use your bread recipes in our newly built wood burning oven?

    • Maria: I’m sure that you can use AB5-HB5 dough in your wood-burning oven, for pizza or for loaf breads. That said, we haven’t tested such; neither of us has a wood-burning oven. Zoe’s preliminary tests on a friends WB-oven were all positive but it takes some trial and error with the temperature. Keep us posted! Jeff

  36. I just tried the master recipe in the Healthy Bread book, and in addition to the surface of the dough drying out after I made the first loaf and put the remaining dough back in the fridge, each successive loaf was more bitter tasting than the last. The first loaf, however, was perfect, and I haven’t really had any problems with texture in any of them. Is the bitterness caused by the dry top layer, or is it something else? Thank you!

    • Hi Denise,

      After you baked the first loaf, how long was it before you baked the next one? How old was the dough? If the surface of your dough is drying out then too much air may be getting into your bucket. A pin sized hole/crack in the bucket’s lid is all that it requires to allow the gases to escape.

      Thanks! Zoë

  37. Hi Zoe,
    I made the dough on Thursday night, made the first loaf Saturday afternoon (that one was fine), the second Sunday night and the third Tuesday night. I definitely let too much air into the storage container — but is that definitely the cause of the bitter taste?

    Also, if I decide to freeze the dough, at what point do I break it up and put it in the freezer? Do I divide it into smaller portions right after it rises?

    Thank you so much!
    Denise

    • Hi Denise,

      No, the bitter taste is not from the dough being dry. It is either the flavor of fermentation, which is closer to an alcohol taste than bitter. The only experience I have with a bitter flavor is when the flour is rancid. I doubt this is it, since your first loaf was fine. I bet the dough became more fermented than you care for. In that case I would cut the dough up into 1-pound pieces and freeze them after just a couple of days. This will stop the fermentation process and the dough will not be bitter tasting.

      Hope this helps! Zoë

      • I want to know what’s the max amount of time i can keep my dough in the fridge?

      • I generally just use the master recipe on p. 26. However i have. tweaked it for hot x buns by adding spices, fruit and 1 T of sugar to the mix.

      • In the book we say 14 days, beyond that most people find it too dense and too sour.

        I’ve gone longer, to your taste, up to three weeks. So long as mold doesn’t form (see above).

  38. Hi Zoe,
    Thank you so much for the advice — I froze half the dough about a day and a half after mixing it up, and I baked one of the frozen loaves about four days later — no bitter taste!
    Thanks again,
    Denise

  39. I have baked many master recipe loaves with great success but have recently come upon a problem that I can’t figure out.
    I follow the directions to the t using unbleached white flour and the dough seems to rise as normal and I refrigerate it. After refrigeration, the texture of the dough completely changes. It is dense, hard, and flaky, not pliable and doughy.
    This has happened with the master recipe, the buttermilk bread, and the chocolate bread.
    What am I doing wrong?

    • Hi Alaina,

      What brand of flour are you using? Some brands have a higher protein content and that will result in a dry dough.

      The other thing that can cause this is a very cold dough. Does your refrigerator run on the cold side?

      Thanks, Zoë

  40. Hi Jeff &Zoe,
    I’m from Queensland Australia and have your book Artisan Bread In five Minutes. Do I have to use different measurements and oven temps? As I’m getting a great crust but when I cut into it it’s gluggy not cook, I’m pulling my hair out trying to find what I’m doing wrong!!

    • Jann: Might be the US cup-measure differences; not sure how different they are– this might help but I’m not sure it’s authoritative http://www.traditionaloven.com/culinary-arts/volume/convert-cup-au-to-cup-us.html.

      Our book was designed for the US market. That said, you should be able to easily adapt it to what you have there. An easier way would be to try it with weights, if you have a scale. 2 pounds of flour with 1.5 pounds of water would be our basic Master recipe (page 25), or 1000 grams flour and 750 grams water.

      But there could be another problem– flour differences. We tested that recipe with US unbleached all-purpose flour (about 10% protein), which predictably makes a nice moist dough at the ratio I mention above. If you have bleached flour, it doesn’t have quite the protein and the dough will be too wet. Likewise if you have low protein flour (like cake flour).

      I’m connecting with another Australian reader who’s had good results (http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2011/04/19/hot-cross-buns/comment-page-2#comment-84572) so maybe we can figure this out.

      Which recipe(s) have you tried? Jeff

      • Hello Another Australian here. I have ‘cheated’ and used Break Maker flour (with grain) which has 4 cups of flour and added 1 and a half of Lighthouse Bread and Pizza flour. mixed it all up in one container then scooped flour with 1 cup container then run the knife across the top . My first dough was wet and didnt rise much. but the second batch i have mixed with the leftover dough in teh same plastic container and it was a bit yeasty smelly. however the bread has risen so much and it is so much nicer just like a real sour dough bread I’ve made buns/rolls (!). I have put some white flour on top of my dough and the next day the smell is gone and dough looks more dense then wet. I have also moved it to smaller Tupperware container and left that yellow lid in open position. the dough looks perfect just like the one in their book. The bread was amazing. hope this helps. Although I have not used just the plain flour as per the recipe from the book yet. So cant comment on that.

      • This all sounds great– the mixture you’re using isn’t all that different from any number of things we’ve tried in our books. Glad it’s working for you.

  41. On the 14th day my daough turned grey on the top, there was a little bit of liquid as well that smelled like wine so I was a little bit worried… But once I have baked the bread it tasted delicious as usual! :)

  42. I had one last hunk of dough from a batch that had to be a couple of weeks old. I knew it was aging but poured off the liquid then proceeded to make it into a flatbread/pizza topped with caramelized onion and fig marmalade. I used a small pan dark grey in color about 8×2″ deep. Spread out the dough into the pan with my hands, prebaked it for 10 minutes then followed with brie cheese, and fresh sage leaf shavings. WOW, my DH is now converted to figs as a pizza topping. Thought you might like a success story rather than Q&A. Stellar results, but I really wasn’t concerned that it wouldn’t be good.

    • Hi J.B.

      Thank you for the note, we love to hear about success stories! Love figs on pizza, so glad your DH is a convert!

      Cheers, Zoë

  43. I’ve had great success with MANY recipes from both of your books, but recently have had two failures and would like your help. I made Olive Spelt Bread (Healthy, p 96) and Maple Oatmeal Bread (Healthy, p. 145) Both doughs smelled overly strong and somewhat spoiled after 2 hours on the counter when I put them in the fridge. When I shaped and baked them, both varieties seemed overly wet and did not bake through (taking internal temperature) in the time expected, and even after extended time. Both batches were inedible. I even added more flour , mixed it in, put back in the fridge for a day to absorb, and no change in results. I am weighing the ingrediants with a digital scale so I don’t think there is a measurement error. Please help! thank you Lisa L, Bethesda, MD

    • Seems that the final result you got for dough is just too wet, and you just need to add more flour next time. The final consistency should look like what you’re used to in our recipes (or in our videos above). You need even more flour than what you added in. Easiest way to do that is with your initial batch-mix. You should be able to use the too-wet dough in nice flatbreads, just roll them out with lots of flour and make pita.

      Likeliest culprit in the Olive spelt bread? A different kind of spelt flour than what we tested with– there’s not great standardization with the offbeat flours. You just have to adjust for it if you’re not getting the results expected.

      As for the maple-WW, can’t point to a likely explanation, other than to say that the action’s the same– just mix in more flour at the start. Try this with half-batches as you do your experiments. Jeff

  44. Jeff, I appreciate your prompt reply. How do you account for the somewhat foul smell after just 2 hours on the counter? The smell did not change after an overnight in the fridge. All ingrediants were fresh in both recipes. Thanks again. Lisa L in Bethesda, MD

    • Hi Lisa,

      Try using cold water, this will give you a slower rise and fermentation, which is what you are probably smelling in the dough. You will need to let the dough rise longer, but it may eliminate the smell that you described.

      Thanks, Zoë

  45. Is it safe to use old dough that shows no sign of mold? This is the whole-wheat 10-grain bread, the dough is now 23 days old. Just hate to waste the ingredients if it’s not necessary…

    • Hi Marion,

      If your dough is not showing any signs of mold and has no dairy or eggs in it, then you are safe to use it. It may not have as much rising power, so you may want to make a flatbread with it.

      Thanks, Zoë

  46. Thank you! I’ll probably just incorporate some of this dough into a new batch, to hopefully keep some of the sourdough flavor.

    I think it’s awesome that you both answer questions so quickly, and I love the healthy breads book!

  47. I’m sending this question again because I forgot where I put it in the first place.

    Bread too dense, no holes, top crust not crisp. I had good experience for several years using your basic recipe, now some disappointments. Didn’t change the brand of flour (KA all purpose unbleached, 1 cup of KA white whole wheat substituted for 1 cup of white, add 1 heaping teaspoon vital wheat gluten, overnight in fridge after shaping.

    Thanks

  48. First, Thank you for these wonderful cookbooks! I’ve been telling everyone about them. I am now baking bread that my family loves. Our favorite so far is the oatmeal bread in ABin5. However, I’d like to use more whole wheat. How much whole wheat can I substitute for unbleached before I need to add vital wheat gluten? Also, can I substitute honey for some/all of the maple syrup? It would seem to me that the honey would be too sweet if I used the same measure. Just wondering if anyone has tried this. Thank you!

  49. I have made several batches of your master recipe (pg. 26) and a batch of European Peasant bread (pg. 46) as well as other no knead recipes. When I started making bread I didn’t have this problem but now I keep getting areas of my crumb that are gray and rubbery. I have tried baking longer as well as use an instant read thermometer and bake until 205 degrees. I always bake in a covered Dutch oven or clay baker. What could be causing this?

    • is it only happening when the dough is long-stored? If so, shorter storage. If not, try a longer resting time– 60, or even 90 minutes and see if that doesn’t help.

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