Back to Basics ~ tips and techniques to create a great loaf in 5 minutes a day.

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Note that there is an updated version of this post, click here to view.

Recently we have seen lots of new readers on the website who are asking wonderful questions about how to perfect their loaves. First I’d like to say welcome to the site and thank you for trying the bread. As I bake through the basic Master recipe from ABin5 I will try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and also introduce you to a few new pieces of equipment I’ve recently started to use that make the whole experience just a little easier.  The goal is to create a large batch of dough that stores in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. That’s why our method saves  you so much time– all the mixing and prep is divided over four one-pound loaves.

Master Recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking:

3 cups lukewarm water (you can use cold water, but it will take the dough longer to rise. Just don’t use hot water or you may kill the yeast)

1 tablespoon granulated yeast ( you can use any kind of yeast including: instant, “quick,” rapid rise, bread machine, active dry, or fresh cake yeast*. We’ve always tested with Red Star Yeast and they have a new premium product called PLATINUM, which has worked beautifully in our recipes. You can also decrease the amount of yeast in the recipe by following the directions here. Or you can bake with a sour dough starter, see instructions here.)

*If you use cake yeast you will need 1.3 ounces.

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons Morton Kosher Salt (adjust to suit your taste or eliminate it all together. Find more information here)

6 1/2 cups (2-pounds) all-purpose flour (we tested the recipes with Gold Medal flour. If you use a higher protein flour check here)

Mixing the dough:

Platinum Yeast | Breadin5

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In a 5 or 6 quart bowl or lidded Food Storage Container, dump in the water and add the yeast and salt. Because we are mixing in the flour so quickly it doesn’t matter that the salt and yeast are thrown in together.

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(If you are using the fresh cake yeast break it up with a spoon)

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Dump in the flour all at once and stir with a long handled wooden spoon or a Danish Dough Whisk, which is one of the tools that makes the job so much easier!

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Stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough, as you can see it will be a wet rough dough.

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Put the lid on the container, but do not snap it shut. You want the gases from the yeast to escape. (I had my husband put a little hole in the top of the lids so that I could close the lids and still allow the gases to get out. As you can see it doesn’t take much of a hole to accomplish this.)

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Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to rise. When you first mix the dough it will not occupy much of the container.

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But, after the initial 2 hour rise it will pretty much fill it. (If you have decreased the yeast you will have to let it go longer than 2 hours.)  DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! Just let it settle by itself.

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The dough will be flat on the top and some of the bubbles may even appear to be popping. (If you intend to refrigerate the dough after this stage it can be placed in the refrigerator even if the dough is not perfectly flat. The yeast will continue to work even in the refrigerator.) The dough can be used right after the initial 2 hour rise, but it is much easier to handle when it is chilledIt is intended for refrigeration and use over the next two weeks, ready for you anytime.  The flavor will deepen over that time, developing sourdough characteristics.

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The next day when you pull the dough out of the refrigerator you will notice that it has collapsed and this is totally normal for our dough. It will never rise up again in the container.

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Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour, just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out.

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You should notice that the dough has a lot of stretch once it has rested. (If your dough breaks off instead of stretching like this your dough is probably too dry and you can just add a few tablespoons of water and let it sit again until the dough absorbs the additional water.)

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Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough using kitchen shears* and form it into a ball. For instructions on how to form the ball watch one of our videos.  Place the ball on a sheet of parchment paper… (or rest it on a generous layer of corn meal on top of a pizza peel.)

*I actually use a pair of Sewing Shears because I like the long blade. I just dedicated a pair to the kitchen.

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Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes, (although letting it go 60 or even 90 minutes will give you a more open hole structure in the interior of the loaf. This may also improve the look of your loaf and prevent it from splitting on the bottom. ) You will notice that the loaf does not rise much during this rest, in fact it may just spread sideways, this is normal for our dough.

You can also try our “refrigerator rise trick,” shaping the loaves and then immediately refrigerating them overnight.  By morning, they’ll have risen and are ready for the oven after a brief room-temp rest while the oven preheats (click for instructions).

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a Baking Stone* on the center rack, with a metal broiler tray on the bottom (never use a glass vessel for this or it will shatter), which will be used to produce steam. (The tray needs to be at least 4 or 5 inches away from your stone to prevent it from cracking.)

*(or Cast Iron Pizza Pan- which will never crack and conducts heat really well. Be careful to dry it after rinsing with water or it will rust)

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Cut the loaf with 1/4-inch slashes using a serrated knife. (If your slashes are too shallow you will end up with an oddly shaped loaf and also prevent it from splitting on the bottom.)

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Slide the loaf into the oven onto a preheated stone (the one I’m using is the cast iron) and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown color. As the bread bakes you should notice a nice oven spring in the dough. This is where the dough rises. To insure that you get the best results it is crucial to have an Oven Thermometer to make sure your oven is accurate.

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If you used parchment paper you will want to remove it after about 20-25 minutes to crisp up the bottom crust. Continue baking the loaf directly on the stone for the last 5-10 minutes.

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Allow the loaf to cool on a rack until it is room temperature. If you cut into a loaf before it is cooled you will have a tough crust and a gummy interior. It is hard to wait, but you will be happy you did! Make sure you have a nice sharp Bread Knife that will not crush the bread as you cut. Or you can tear it apart as they do in most of Europe.

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If you have any leftover bread just let it sit, uncovered on the cutting board or counter with the cut side down. If you cover a bread that has a crust it will get soggy.

Enjoy and have fun baking. Bread that is made with love and joy tastes better!

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1,306 thoughts on “Back to Basics ~ tips and techniques to create a great loaf in 5 minutes a day.

  1. This sounds like a great way to make bread! I was wondering if after the initial rise and refrigeration if the loaves, rolls, etc. could be formed and frozen then thawed and baked as usual?

    • Hi Lisa,

      The short answer is yes, but they may lose some of there shape as they defrost and rest. I would try it with a small batch and see if you like the result you are getting. The alternative is to freeze the dough before shaping and then once it is defrosted shape and rest the bread as normal.

      Thanks! Zoe

  2. Hi Jeff & Zoe,

    I tried making Light Whole Wheat bread twice. I followed the measurements in the recipe but my dough seems to be very sticky unlike your video. I added more flour & kneaded the dough. Should I reduce the water?
    I am using organic bread flour which is high protein plain wheat flour and wholemeal wheat flour. Please help.

    • Liv: Probably a different flour type/types than what we get. Just reduce the water a bit, maybe try 1/4 cup less and see what you think. Go down by 1/4-cups.

  3. Hi Zoe/Jeff,

    I was wondering if you think it’s more accurate to do the measurements by weight or volume. I noticed your master recipe above says “6 1/2 cups (2-pounds)” and I was debating whether to use my kitchen scale or a measuring cup. Thanks!

  4. I just wanted to let you know that I did everything wrong while making the master recipe. I used bleached AP flour/ expired yeast/ table salt/ no pizza stone/ no corn meal, just cornbread mix. But it turned out great!!! My family loves this bread. We do like it better when it made from more aged dough (3 day old). Thank you so much for the recipe and all the videos on Youtube for help.

    • Joanne: Love this story, thanks for writing. Makes me think that we’re thinking too much about this stuff! Jeff

  5. Help. I love the book and idea, but am not having much success. The loaves are small, dense and the crust is not crusty, but chewy. I think one problem is my oven. I does not have a good seal, so the steam escapes. Any other suggestions?
    Thanks.

  6. Not only do I love this method, but I’ve got people at work interested too! Can’t wait for the new book (I’ve got HBin5, and may pick up the original, too.)

    Here’s my question: In this post you mix the flour into the liquid. In HB (if I read it right) you mix the liquids into the flour. I found dry into wet much easier! Is there a reason to do it one way vs. the other?

    Thanks!

    • Rebecca: HB’s method is required because there’s vital wheat gluten in the mix, which must first be distributed with the dry ingredients or you get lumps. If there’s no VWG, you can go in whichever order you prefer. Jeff

  7. Thanks, Jeff! I mixed this batch (WW w/olive oil) in a bowl and then put in into my frig container. The mixing was much easier in the bowl than in the straight-side canister I’m using in the frig.

    By the way, this makes great sandwich rolls, which are one thing I have not been able to get in whole grain at our local bakeries. Good pizza, too. (Though I rolled it too thick the first time! I like thick crust, but this was more like foccacia.) Thanks, again!

    • Rebecca: to get the pizza crust to relax, do it in shifts. Roll it out till it starts to “resist.” Then walk away for 5 minutes, do something else. When you return, it will miraculously be willing to get really thin.

      Other thing that helps is forming the dough ball, then letting it rest for 30 to 45 minutes, likewise relaxes. Jeff

  8. Hi guys! I just tried to do my first loaf, and when I went to cut it with my serrated knife before I put it in the oven, I couldn’t because the dough was too wet I think? When I used the knife, it just stuck to the dough. Do I need to reduce the water?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Annie,

      Have you checked out any of our videos about working with the doughs? Here is one about wet dough. http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=1715 See if your dough looks similar or if it is wetter. If you still think it is too wet you can reduce the water next time. If you still have dough left in the bucket you can add a touch more flour to this batch, just let it sit for a couple of hours to absorb the excess water.

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. I love ABin5! I have made tons of homemade bread since getting the book last year. It is so simple and melt in your mouth tasty. I work at a home for the elderly who have lost a lot of freedoms dude to getting older. I lent the book to the activities director b/c it is something they can mix up in the morning and enjoy with their dinner and nothing takes you back to sitting in the kitchen with your mother while she was busy baking like the smell of home made bread. Thank you for this, it means the world to them and me.

  10. Hello Jeff and Zoe, I am Japanese living in New Zealand, with German husband! In New Zealand, it is very hard to find bread that satisfied my husband, but finally I found your recipe! He munches on the toasted slightly sour bread after work, looking very happy. I haven’t tried anything other than basic Boule recipe, but now I got your book and I am ready to venture into other bread /forms now.

    I have tested “waffle” bread today…. using Boule dough and cooked in iron waffle maker. It was crisp in parts and moist in others, quite substancial “meal waffle”, and will go well with cheese, chutney, pickles etc., I reckon. I have been making traditional waffle, rice waffle (non-sweet), and now I can make this bread waffle, for light meals. Very pleased about it.

    Anyway — thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe. Also, great site! Sayonara.

  11. I’ve made 2 batches of this bread and it tastes great, but I am having trouble keeping the slits open. I slash it deep, but it seems to close up in the oven and only tiny slits remain. Nothing like your pictures. Any suggestions?

    • Jodi: This tends to happen when the dough is too wet. Any chance you are using bleached flour (doesn’t absorb enough water)? Which recipe are you using, from which book? What are you using to slash?

      May just have to slightly increase the flour (1/4 cup)…

  12. Would you please post gram measurements for your master recipe?
    Since buying your books, I’ve made at least 10 loaves of the master recipe in your first book. I’ve followed directions, made sure my oven temp is correct and baked the bread to 205 degrees but my loaves collapse after cooling and the interior is gummy. All loaves taste like ciabatta. Maybe if I weight the ingredients, I’ll have better luck. Thank you

    • Wende: For the Master Recipe in this post, it’s 2 pounds of unbleached all-purpose flour, and 1 1/2 pounds of water (or 1000 grams flour and 750 grams water). The water’s always 75% of the weight of white flour in that one (the US and metric are exactly the same but the ratio is). Won’t work properly with bleached flour, cake flour, or other low-protein flours, which kind of sounds like the problem you’re having.

      Or, you’ve been using the “spoon and sweep” method, rather than our “scoop and sweep,” see my video at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=1801 Jeff

  13. I have tried both Pillsbury unbleached flour and Gold Medal unbleached flour.
    And I am using the scoop and sweep method. I’m going to use my scale and weight the ingredients and see if that helps. Thank you for your help.

  14. may i ask for the flour are we supposed to use 6 times of 1/2 cup, or 6 and 1/2 cups of flour? when i tried with 6 and 1/2 cups of flour, it came out too dry i couldn’t stir it.

    • Natx: We tested with typical US unbleached all-purpose, which is about 10% protein. That’s the key. What brand of flour are you using, and where are you? US, elsewhere?

  15. i’m in usa, idaho. i used gold medal unbleached all purporse flour. I’m wondering if i got the measurements rite? I used 6 cups + 1/2 cups of flour.. did i do it rite? Or is it 6 scoops of 1/2 cup of flour?

  16. Dear Jeff and Zoe,
    I know how you have stressed the importance of which flour to use. However, I now live in Qatar and have very little choice and virtually no labeling. Can you give a guess at how I might need to adjust the recipes when using all purpose flour, and I presume, bleached flour? Every once in awhile, I can find nonbleached, but it’s rare and expensive. I must admit last time I found it, I mixed it about half and half with bleached just to make it last longer. I’ve made plenty of bread; it just seems heavy – a dense crumb. Thanks so much. (I enjoyed your class at Whole Foods, Napa, several years ago.)

    • Carol: Bleached needs less water and you’ll probably succeed, more or less. Try a quarter cup less. It’s still going to be denser– won’t have a beautiful rise. Jeff

  17. I learned this from my sister in law. Wow I love this bread. Can’t leave it alone> It is especially delicious while warm with butter and table molasses on top with a glass of milk. Can’t make enough to last very long at my house.

  18. I have been baking (and loving it) the HBin5 way. Recently, I have made changes to my diet. I am wondering if the method works as well with sprouted grain flours (I am working with sprouted spelt to begin with)? I also want to experiment with steam cooking on the stove– chinese bread-making style. Before I invest in a bamboo steamer, could you comment on steam cooking HBin5 (sprouted) dough?

    • Hi Mary,

      Neither of us have had a chance to make the breads with sprouted grains. I hope to try it sometime. If you experiment with using the sprouted grain flour please report back.

      I have made stuffed steamed buns with the master recipe from ABin5, but have not tried it with any of the doughs from HBin5. I bet they would also work, also the texture may be a bit denser.

      Thank you! Zoë

  19. i made the dough yesterday and baked a loaf today. i left it out to rise, went to the mall and forgat all about it. came home FOUR hours later and thought “let me bake it…what the neck?!” and it came out great! i don’t plan to make a habit of it, but a longer rise is not a downfall. thanks for a great recipe that works–even if slightly forgotten.

    • Hi Monika,

      That is wonderful, so glad it all worked out! A longer rise can often be just what a loaf needs, but 4 hours is more than we normally recommend! ;)

      Enjoy, Zoë

  20. I’ve been baking your master recipe ever since I saw a TV demo when you were promoting the first book. The result are outstanding!

    One observation: since I use the dough immediately for baguettes, using a half-recipe for 3 baguettes, and I never refrigerate the dough, I let the formed loaves rest only 20 minutes, not 40 minutes as for the 1 lb.boule, slightly under-proofing. I get great oven spring and love the final result. Bravissimo!

  21. I LOVE your books and have started a number of family members on them. Problem: My crust (master recipe/healthy bread) has become increasingly tough, so tough I almost need an electric knife. I don’t know what I’ve started doing differently. What are some things that could cause this? THANK YOU!

    • Hi Susan,

      Do you have an oven thermometer? I would start by testing the actual temperature of your oven. This is often the culprit. Allowing the dough to rest a bit longer before baking can sometimes help this as well.

      Are you baking on a stone with steam in the oven? You may also like the covered pot method: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=552

      Thanks, Zoë

  22. Hi Jeff and Zoe: I ran out of my cupboard’s yeast (oh no!) making your breads, which have been consistently wonderful. Had been using Fleishman’s regular (not rapid rise) yeast, but when ordering from KA’s decided to try SAF instant yeast. This afternoon I made a bucket of challah and a bucket of light whole wheat as I have. The only change was that, as recommended, I added the yeast with the flour rather than with the wet ingredients. The dough is taking FOREVER to rise, It’s now been 8 hours and the challah dough is still rising, whereas, previously, it would be tipping its top off in about 3-4. And the whole wheat is only about halfway up after 5 hours. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Amy,

      Is it possible that you used cooler water when you mixed these doughs? The cool water will just take longer for the yeast to become active, but the end result should be exactly the same. Some people use cold water to purposely slow down the yeast, and claim to like the flavor better. You may find that you prefer this new way, although it takes so much longer.

      Thanks, Zoë

  23. Hi Zoe: Thank you ao much for your response. No, I’m quite sure that my water was not cooler as this something I’m really conscious of. In fact, with the Challah, I worried that the water might have been too warm. Any other explanation you can postulate? With the whole wheat dough, I just had to put it in the fridge partially risen, as it took so long, I finally needed to go to bed! Is it safe to allow the enriched bread dough (with raw eggs) to remain at room temperature for 8-9 hours? Thanks again…

  24. Amy: Well, it’s impossible to say why now, but something must have been different, though I doubt it was your yeast change– those brands should perform about the same. Maybe you measured the yeast wrong? Who knows.

    Technically speaking, USDA says you can’t leave eggs at room temp for more than two hours, see their website on this at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/focus_on_shell_eggs/index.asp

    If you’re doing a long rise with eggs, take the first two hours on the counter, and then finish the rise in the fridge (it will be slooooow).

    Some people prefer this slow-risen taste, see what you think. Jeff

  25. Hey guys: thank you for your thoughts. Turns out the yeast was bad!!! (proofed it as advised by KAF) and…no bubbles. 2 other questions:1. KAF has a semolina flour that is durham wheat and another flour they call “extra fancy durham”. Can the semolina be used or do I need to get the other? Also, any tips on freezing freshly baked breads? Looking forward to making the jelly doughnuts…thanks so much for everything!

    • Hi Amy,

      It is so rare to find a batch of yeast that is bad it never occurs to us to consider that as the problem. Glad you figured it out.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  26. Sooo sorry to bother you again, but you didn’t answer my question about semolina flour or freezing. I am anxious to figure out which of the semolina flours from KAF are right. And, it may seem sacrilege to even consider freezing freshly baked bread, but I am going in for surgery and want to stock up. Also, sometimes it’s only me here and even a relatively small loaf will not get used up before it goes stale. Thank you so much!

    • Oh no Amy,

      How did I miss your other questions? Here goes…We used just regular semolina flour, not sure how the “extra fancy” version differs, but it isn’t necessary.

      You can certainly freeze the breads. Some people like to par-bake the loaves and then recrisp when they are ready to serve. Bake it about 90% of the way, let it cool completely, wrap it really well and freeze. For thicker loaves let it sit out on the counter still wrapped for an hour before baking to recrisp. Bake for about 10 minutes if fully thawed.

      Thanks, Zoë

  27. I keep trying to make a pizza – it’s okay – but the crust is super thick and it gets huge bubbles. Also, the top gets a bit blackened while I try to cook it long enough to be done. How do I get the crust thin enough? Do you toss it? Thank you!

    • Hi Andrea,

      It is funny you should bring up pizza today. Jeff and I are just finishing up the manuscript for our pizza and flatbread book, which will come out next fall.

      In the mean time, it may help you to let the dough rest for about 15 minutes before rolling it out if it isn’t rolling thin enough. The huge bubbles may be a matter of just being too thick, but the outer edge will still have some of that.

      Place your pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven and let it preheat for about 45 minutes if you have a thick stone. 30 minutes for thinner ones. This will insure that the bottom crust bakes faster and the toppings won’t burn.

      Thanks and enjoy! Zoë

  28. Help..Now I added too much water, it’s my last loaf on this batch but it’s super wet..how do I save it and have it on the table for supper tonight? I have already added several tablespoons of flour too it, but hesitate on truly kneading it in afraid I’ll ruin it. (My flour has high protein, so I’m really just trying to find the perfect balance still)…anyways. Help.

    • Amanda: work in a little extra flour and let it sit for a while (an hour?) Because you’re adding more fuel to the yeast, you can work it without ruining it– that extra flour, combined with the yeast still living in the mixture, will produce new gas so you can get away with this. Jeff

  29. I just finished baking a couronne with this master recipe, but I had trouble shaping it. I tried to make the hole in the middle three times as wide as the “wall” like you said in ABin5, but whenever I stretched it out it would scrunch back into a smaller circle. Eventually I was able to carefully stretch it out so that it was big enough but still wasn’t so big it scrunched up. Do you have any ideas about how I could shape it more easily?

    Also, I have made a half-batch (2 loaves) of the master recipe but I could only get one 1-pound loaf and one 10-ounce loaf out of it. Should I worry about this? (Don’t worry, my couronne was the first of a four-loaf batch.)

    • Hi Seth,

      Letting the dough rest is the only way to counter the gluten, which is what is causing your dough to scrunch back. If you form the ball and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes and then try to form the circle it will probably stretch without problems. Or you can stretch the dough into the circle, knowing it will scrunch, let it sit and stretch it some more. The gluten gets active when you are forming the dough into a ball and will only relax with time, luckily it relaxes quickly.

      our master recipe from ABin5 makes 4 scant 1-pound loaves, they are just shy. If you want larger loaves you may want to only divide the batch into 3 loaves. If you do this just let the dough rest an additional 20+ minutes and let it bake for another 10-15 minutes.

      Thanks, Zoë

    • Brooke: Not at all, just break them up with your fingers, work it into the dough, assuming you mean during the mixing phase? Or if you mean that the dry patches develop during refrigeration, you just need to switch to a closer-fitting container or fasten the lid with less leakage (we generally don’t want you do click down a plastic lid completely in the 1st two days in order to vent away fermentation gases).

      But dough this wet isn’t usually ruined by a few dry patches. Jeff

  30. Your method is such a great gift to our family, Thank You!

    Last year I made a commitment to eating more healthy with an eye to eating more locally and foods that are not processed. After reading up on your methods, the simplicity appealed to me, and the fact that the master recipe is fat free. My resolutions for 2010 is to learn to bake better. I have a full time job outside of the home and I must say, this is easy!

    My first loaf was almost perfect, my second is in the oven as I write this…I love the fact that I can take simple steps to provide our family with good, pure food.

    Silly thing though, when I make my score in top of the loaf, they don’t really cut down into it, but crush it…..what am I doing wrong? I have tried 3 different types of serrated knives. Any ideas?

  31. I have made traditional breads for years, with all of the kneading and waiting. Today I decided to try something new, and followed your recipe & tips listed above, and all I can say is wow! I have just pulled the most perfect artisan loaf out of my oven, and have enough dough to make plenty more in the upcoming days.

    I didn’t have a pizza stone, so I inverted a large cast iron pan, and baked my bread on the bottom. Other than a little smoke because it is a well seasoned pan, it worked like a champ and would be a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t have a cast iron pizza pan or baking stone available but wants to make an artisan loaf right away.

    I plan on ordering your books this evening because this has changed how I bake bread! Thank you so much!

    • Stephanie: This is terrific, thank you so much for writing. The cast-iron skillet is a nice swap for the stone, we have found. Jeff

  32. I just baked my first loaf. I’d been using a different method–the one published a few years ago in the NYT–but was never really happy with it because it was too dense. This loaf is beautiful, rose well in the oven. Can’t wait to slice into it in the morning.

    I hope I can repeat the results. Sometimes a recipe works well the first time and then I can’t seem to repeat the experiment.

  33. I baked the second loaf a couple days ago and let is rest longer as suggested here and it did develop larger holes. I”m now baking another loaf; last one, I’m just using up what’s left. I’m going to try mixing in a little whole wheat flour next.
    By the way, I live at about 5,000 ft and followed the recipe exactly. I might reduce the yeast a bit but really, with such good results, I’m not sure I’d want to.

    Blogs such as these are a wonderful way to try something without spending money for a book I might not use but now that I see how easy and good this is, I’ll get one book at least.

    So, is the concept meant to use up the starter, bake 4 loaves and then start again from scratch?

    I guess, “Buy the book” is the answer.

  34. Wow!! I just bought the ABin5 after reading about it in a friend’s Christmas letter. Today is a snow day south of Boston; a great day to try my first loaf.

    I was skeptical, and my husband even more so as he makes excellent bread the traditional way. I’ve tried bread at various times in the past with no real success.

    Just took my first loaf out of the oven. It looks and smells great! Waiting for it to cool is tough.

    A question: In the book it says you are ready to bake after a 20-minute preheat, even though the oven thermometer won’t be up to temperature. At what point *should* the oven be up to full temp?

    Thank you for de-mystifying bread. Your website & book are great.

    • Michelle: 20 min was a compromise– in most ovens, it won’t be up to temp. For faster baking a maybe a better crust, we used 30 min in our second book. Traditional books say 60 min but we feared our readers would rebel! But 60 minutes can be realistic for when the oven is “up to temp” — I don’t think it’s necessary. Thanks, Jeff

  35. I just baked my first loaf yesterday and it turned out great! I couldn’t believe that I had made that at home in my very own oven :) The only downside was that my pampered chef pizza stone cracked in two when the water heated to steam (I knew this was a possibility but I had to try it). I think I’ll be investing in a cast iron pizza pan as we loved this bread so much I want to keep making it (plus I have 3 more loaves to bake!) Thank you so much for the technique, it does work as advertised!

    • Thanks 4 the feedback, glad to hear. Unfortunately, many readers tell us that Pampered Chef stones disintegrate quickly (my experience too). Someone told me that some of the Pampered Chef products are warranted against breakage, so check the materials that came with your product. I can’t confirm this myself. Jeff

  36. I have baked two loaves out of my batch of dough and all I can say is “I am in LOVE with this bread!!!” I can make this bread with three small children in the house. Thank you!!!!

  37. I have been experimenting with the AB and HB recipes and they have all turned out great, except for the Spelt and Sweet Potato. I did just see that there is a water correction decreasing it to 3 1/4 cup. It doesn’t seem as if that would be enough of a significant change. My dough is a gloppy mess and the loaf came out just dreadful looking. Is the remainder of my starter salvageable? Can I add more spelt/AP flour to lessen the moisture?

    Thank you in advance.

    Aimee’

    • Hi Aimee,

      Are you using light spelt by any chance? This product seems to have even less protein than normal spelt and results in a wet dough. You certainly can add more flour to get your dough to the right consistency. Since you have had success with the other doughs you know what the consistency should be.

      Thanks, Zoë

  38. Zoe,

    I am using organic whole grain spelt flour. Should I add flour and let sit out to rise again? Is that even a possibility? I emptied out some of the excess standing water already and would like to salvage the remaining 3 loaves. Also, I am assuming that the dough will only work now as flat breads. Thanks for the quick response!

    • Hi Aimee,

      Yes, you can still add the flour to the remaining dough. Let it stand to absorb the excess water, then you can chill it again and use it for any of the recipes. The new flour will feed the yeast again and it should have plenty of power to bake as loaves or flatbreads.

      Thanks and enjoy! Zoë

  39. Ok, I”m beginning my second week of AB5. My first loaf last Tuesday was awesome, great crust too although I’had had such results before with the No Knead bread. My other 3 loaves were not quite as good but still really nice. I substituted 2 cups of wheat in my second batch but misread the direction and put in 3 1/2 c water instead of 3 so my dough was a little soggy. The last loaf was the best.

    Yesterday I mixed another standard batch and baked to loaves this am: one on a stone, one in a covered dutch oven. One problem I’ve had except for the first loaf is that my crusts look great but they’re a bit thin so it makes the bread hard to slice. I guess really nice oven spring the loaves are perfect in their boule shape but whether I spray, add a pan of water or bake in a lidded pan, the crust is a bit soft.
    I’ve used both convection and regular electric heat.

    Any ideas? I’ve read thru most of the Q &A.

    BTW, how does someone get to this particular page since it’s not in the FAQ? I can’t find this page in any of the tabs. I found it thru google but would like to know how to access it from the homepage.

  40. Martie: Can you define your question a little more? In general, thin crust is considered desirable. Also, I need a little more guidance to help you— which of our books are you using, which recipe (page number?)?

    There’s no way to access this particular page directly, just bookmark it and you can come back again and again. Jeff

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