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. I’ve been bread-obsessed for several months now and this has been my husband’s and my favorite. I had discovered the NY Times no knead bread first and while I prefer that as far as crust and taste, it can’t compare to how easy this bread is. I say it’s so easy my husband can do it (and he did with the directions from this page!).

  2. Jeff, I only found out about your bread 10 days ago and have made 3 batches but I’d not had a chance to buy your book yet, I was just using the info on this site. I hosted a big event at my state capitol last night for 170 people and just didn’t have time this past week to run to my local bookshop which I like to patronize. . Today’s the day after the event so I bought the book this afternoon. I’ve perused the book and think I’ve found the answer to my question on page 20–book 1.. I must be underbaking the loaves. I baked another loaf this morning–I get the best results with the lidded glass casserole. I’m going to bake it uncovered until it’s a bit darker than I like. thanks.

  3. I have an old Cuisinart Grand Griddle pan that they don’t seem to make any more. It’s round, about the size of a pizza pan, very heavy stainless steel. I’m I use parchment paper (or even if I don’t) is there any reason I can’t use this pan instead of either my 1/4″ pizza stone or a cast iron pizza pan? I’d sure like to use what I have!

  4. Hi there.
    Just bought HB book and am excitedly baking!
    Here is my problem, though- using the master recipe for whole wheat bread, my dough doesn’t stretch near as much as yours does in the picture above. Instead, it breaks. The loaves come out without a lot of wholes, fairly dense.

    After reading through a bunch of comments, I think it needs more water. How do I add more water to the remaining half batch of dough? Or do I just scrap it and start over?

    Thanks-
    Heather

    • Hi Heather,

      You can absolutely add more water to the remaining dough. It is easiest to do in a stand mixer, but you can also just stir it in. You’ll need to let the dough sit again to allow the flour to absorb the water.

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. I,m a big fan and have made many of your breads with much succses. Is there any way you could include the fat, protein, fiber and carb levels of the breads/ Thanks, Sandi

  6. Success with the longer baking time! Nice crust that said hard! The total time in a covered dish was probably 45 minutes with the last 10 or more uncovered. I was baking two loaves at the same time, the other on a backing stone. That one was done in about 35 minutes.

  7. I’ve made several more batches, with a 2c WW 4 1/2 Unbleached and also 3 C WW/3 1/2 unbleached. They’ve been awesome, everyone raves about them. I prefer baking in a covered dish. I get perfect shape, great rise in the oven. So far so good—really, really good.

  8. I just read some reviews on amazon and someone mentions freezing the dough and having several types on hand but I can’t find anything in the first book or on this site about the best way to freeze the dough. Can you give some details? I guess the dough should be split into loaf size portions? How long can it be frozen? How do you thaw it out?

    • Hi Martie,

      Just wrap the dough, in 1-pound pieces, really well in plastic wrap and/or ziplock bags. Each recipe should have a recommended time that it can be frozen. If you find one without specific times, let us know.

      Thanks, Zoë

    • Hi Donna,

      If your kitchen is on the cool side It should be ok. I have done this and used it, but because of the eggs we suggest you be more cautious!

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. I just checked your book out of my local library. It am amazed at how easy it is to make the master dough. My first loaf is coming out of the oven. Weeeeee! I’m going to buy the book to keep. It took me a while to catch on to the no knead concept, but I’m a convert. Thanks so much!

  10. (Don’t tell the kids, but a picture-book-style explanation works for us adults, too!)
    I don’t own a broiler pan, but I do have a roasting pan that’s oven-safe to 550 degrees (got it for Alton Brown’s turkey recipe), so that would probably work for holding the water. I’ll probably go the cookie sheet & parchment route until I can get a baking stone (probably a cheap one from eBay, so I don’t ruin a good one while I’m learning how to use it). I also have 2 sizes of cast iron Dutch ovens, so round loaves, at least, won’t be a problem.

    I was wondering what size dough whisk I should get, though. Amazon has the dough whisks cheaper than eBay — but in a couple of different sizes, and I’m such a noob at baking (without a bread machine) that I don’t really have a good feel for what size would be the most comfortable (yet compact enough to store somewhere in the kitchen, whether in a drawer or hung up).
    I picked up a copy of HBi5 off eBay, but kept getting outbid on ABi5 — so ordered your first book from Barnes & Noble instead. I’m looking forward to trying your method out!

    • Only thing about the oven pan is that it’s going to get lots of mineral deposits, and may warp a bit. A junky broiler drippings pan might be a better choice if this roaster is a nice item.

      I like the larger dough whisk, Zoe likes the smaller! No standard recommendation. Jeff

  11. I got my copy of your book last month and although my loaves still need some work they still taste fantastic. I can’t wait to try some of the other recipes.

  12. Unfortunately, I don’t own a junky broiler pan. Perhaps my junky old Baker’s Secret rimmed cookie sheet would work, though. It’s the thickest of my cookie sheets (so it doesn’t warp in a hot oven), and it has a wide lip around all 4 edges (takes up more oven space, but easier to grab). It’s already pretty blackened from years of use, so it won’t matter if it gets any uglier from turning the local hard water into steam.

  13. Help! I mixed up a batch using my sourdough, but after rising for 4 hours it is way too sticky. Can I add more flour at this point?

    • Hi Mary,

      You certainly can, but will have to wait for it to rise once again. What kind of dough are you working with? If it has whole wheat flour it will get firmer once it is refrigerated and the whole wheat has had time to absorb some of the water. This is somewhat true of the all white dough as well, but less so.

      Thanks, Zoë

  14. Well, I used it anyway – it was a blobby misshaped thing, but it tastes good. I did take the dough out today and it seemed to have absorbed some of the moisture. I had used unbleached white flour. Another question — I don’t have a pizza stone (yet!) so I’m using an oval casserole bowl, but the bottom crust is pale. Is there something else I can use besides a pizza stone?

  15. Ahh – have been seeking something like this – may even mix it up tonight. Question after the rise – how many 1 lb loaves do you normally get out of the batch? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Doreen,

      Thanks for trying the recipe! You will get about four 1-pound loaves. They will actually be just shy of 1-pound.

      Thanks, Zoë

  16. Hi Zoe and Jeff:

    I’m excited about trying my first AB5 loaf soon. All your videos show you mixing in the storage container, but I’ve become partial to mixing pizza dough in my big Cuisinart and I’d like to continue that. The book is a little unclear about the using the food processor: should I just substitute the Cuisinart bowl for the dough container and combine everything in there? And then transfer to the storage container after mixing? Thanks!

    • Jeff: you can do it, if you have a really large Cuisinart. Then transfer to a storage container.

      Otherwise you’ll have to divide the batch in half. Jeff

  17. First loaf report: excellent! The dough was possibly a little too wet (we’re here in Houston where it’s already pretty humid); just a tad more flour might do the trick. But the crust was perfect! Can’t wait to make more. 14-cup Cuisinart made mixing a breeze. I’m going to try a loaf pan tomorrow.

  18. Been using you method for a little over a month now. When I weigh the entire dough recipe, it weighs 3 lbs 6 oz. I weigh every loaf when I cut the piece of dough and always knew I couldn’t get 4 1lb. loaves so I just make 3 bigger loaves; I like the bigger loaves better. Yesterday I baked a 1 1/2 lb loaf. I only used the stone a couple times; I much prefer baking in a covered pot. I use both a Le Creuset pot and glass casseroles with amazing results. No need to spray. I get perfect thin very crispy crust. Thanks for developing the method.

    • Martine: Yep, we’re a little shy of four one-pounders, more like four 0.9 pounders! Scale up the recipe if you like; glad the method’s working well for you. Jeff

  19. Thank you for making fresh bread easy!! I was so excited to find this book and tried my first loaves today. I have not yet invested in any suggested tools, except the oven thermometer, so I could test out the technique first. I borrowed a stone from a friend for one loaf, and made the other on a cast iron one (it wasn’t mentioned in the book, but I love cast iron, so I thought I’d try it). I taste-tested my family without telling them what the loaves were baked on, but they unanimously chose the one baked on the cast iron – it imparted a distinct flavor that we loved – sort of smoky- like wood oven flavor. We will be enjoying Boule all week as I perfect it, and I will be recommending you to all my friends! Thanks again!!

  20. Hi! A friend just shared this site with me and I’m very excited to try making the master recipe. I saw in a previous comment thread that it will work with loaf pans. My question is, will I still need parchment paper or cooking spray in the pans? And is the pan of water needed for non-freeform loaves? Thank you so much for making breadmaking quick and easy!!

  21. I have a copy of HB5Min and mixed the soft whole wheat sandwich dough. I have to admit I was skeptical. I have been trying to bake bread for over a year now: It did not rise, It did not form the normal bread shape, It was too dense, etc. After letting the dough set overnight I baked a load of the dough. It had not risen any more in the load pan as I let it set the alloted time. I was sure I was in for one more failure. Wrong! When I took the pan from the oven the shape was like a normal loaf of bread about 2″ over the edge of the pan. It was golden brown on top and tasted great. I am sold. Now to go back and get AB5min. Thanks!

  22. Did I brag too soon? I mixed a batch of bricohe dough. It continued to rise even after placing in the refrigerator. The dough did not fall until I took it from the refrigerator the next day. I am making the cinnamon rolls. The dough was extremely wet. I added flour until I was afraid it would be too much. I managed to get the dough rolled and sliced. They are in the rise stage now. Question: should the dough be this wet or did I do something wrong. At what point can it be said “that is too much flour?”

    • Hi Ray,

      The dough usually is not that wet, due to all the butter that hardens up once it is refrigerator. There are a couple of things that can cause this dough to be too wet; using extra large eggs or not using the scoop and sweep method of measuring the flour. The latter will result in a dough that is too wet, due to too little flour. In either case you can certainly just add more flour until it is easier to work with. If you add quite a bit more flour you will need to allow a longer resting time before baking.

      Thanks, Zoë

  23. I use a method from King Arthur Flour website where you fluff the flour and then sprinkle it into the measuring cup. I really can’t complain since the end result was fabulous. Thanks.

    • Hi Ray,

      This is called “spoon and sweep” and will result in much less flour than our recipes require. The problem is if you were to weigh a cup done that way it would be about 4 1/2-ounces. If you do “scoop and sweep” as we call for in our book you will get 5-ounces. In a recipe as large as ours, those extra ounces really add up. Glad you had success with your first recipe, but I bet you will find it much easier to work with when you do the “scoop and sweep.”

      Thanks, Zoë

    • Active preparation time only, Nikki. Passive time (resting on the counter, baking in the oven) isn’t counted.

      Which recipe are you trying (which book, page number)? Jeff

  24. I posted this on the Q & A but found this thread again and thought it might address Ray’s comment. He might live in a dry climate like me.

    I have both your books and have been baking your breads for three months now, mixing a couple times a week. I generally baked two loaves at once and give one to a friend or neighbor. I live in a dry mountain climate. My loaves have turned out perfectly since day one because of a error I made right at first. I misread the measuring directions and started off spooning flour into the measuring cup. After several weeks I was re-reading the directions and realized I was doing it wrong so I used the scoop and sweep method, not even thinking that this would change my results significantly. I was baffled when I pulled the dough out of the container to cut off a piece and it broke instead of stretching. I couldn’t think what I’d done differently for a couple days. Then it dawned on me! I then measured the two different ways and weighed the results and found the difference to be one full cup of flour or 140 gr! I now measure your way but have increased the water to 3 1/3 cups and sometimes I need to add one or two TB. This works out perfectly. This also explains why I wrote here a couple months ago that I couldn’t get 4 X 1 Lb loaves!
    This change has been perfect for my dry climate. I recently visited my son in AZ and taught him the method and got similar results with the additional water.
    I also only bake in covered dishes; I keep three in my oven at all times since I bake so much.
    I tried the brioche a couple weeks ago and it was marvelous. The rest of that dough is in the freezer.

    Oh, and I’ve settled on 3 1/2 bread flour with 3 c ww as perfection for me. Played with the salt a bit too. You do mention in Healthy Breads that no all salt is the same. True.

    Thanks for bringing the aroma of my childhood neighborhood bakery in my home. After nearly 40 years in the U.S. I can bake my own delicious bread–not pay $4.50 for it. I’ve lived on almost nothing else for the past 3 months. With honey, my homemade jelly, imported french ham or cheese, salami. All yummy!

    • Martie: See my response in the other post you linked, under the FAQs tab, click on “I Posted a Comment to the Site But…”

      Jeff

  25. Hi Jeff and Zoe! I’ve been enjoying your artisan bread in 5 minutes a day. I use an oven thermometer and place the loaf in the oven once the thermometer reaches 450. This usually takes a half hour. However, in your book you write “after a 20-minute preheat, you’re ready to bake, even though your oven thermometer won’t yet be up to full temperature.” What’s the difference?

    I apologize if this has been asked before, I didn’t see my question when I searched.

    Thank you!!

    P.S. I love the Danish Dough whisk you guys use, and the boule dough makes excellent pizza – no more making separate pizza dough!

    • Hi Erica,

      In our first book we were very concerned that people wouldn’t want to bake every day if they had to wait too long for the process, so we shortened the preheat time to 20 minutes. If you have a baking stone, especially a thick one, the crust on your bread will be improved with a longer preheat 30 -45 minutes. If your bread is coming out well and you like the crust you are getting then don’t change a thing!

      Thanks, Zoë

  26. Zoe,

    Living in Miami with high humidity, I’ve found that weighing flour gives me much more consistent results than the scoop and sweep method when making bread. (I’ve never made no-knead bread before.) I just use the weight per 1/4 cup info on the side of whichever kind of flour I’m using for the conversion.

    For bread flour and all purpose flour this usually works out to about 120 grams or 4.25 oz per cup. In your answer to Ray above you said that you use 5 oz cups, so, instead of using the weight on the flour bag, it looks like I should just weight out 32.5 oz (5 x 6.5) when using all purpose flour. Is this correct? Also, would I use different weights per cup for bread flour or whole wheat flour (whole wheat is usually several grams heavier than all purpose) if I substitute those flours for some of the flour in the recipe? Sorry for the long winded question.

    • Elsa: Yes, exactly right on the all-purpose (same weight for bread flour, though other authors may disagree). More conversions are in the second book (Healthy Bread in Five Min/Day) in chapter 4. Also see our FAQs page above and click on “Q+A White Flour…” Jeff

  27. I’ve just made my first loaf from the master recipe in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and I’m delighted with the results. I’d like to make a 2 pound loaf. Will this work? By how much should I increase the baking time? Would I have to adjust the temperature?

    Thanks so much,
    Elaine

    • Hi Elaine,

      You will need to let the loaf rest for about 1 1/2 hours before baking and bake the loaf for about 45-50 minutes.

      Thanks, Zoë

  28. Thanks for the tip on finding fresh yeast. I’ve looked for it for years and could never find it. When I was little, my mom always used fresh yeast and she’d give me the leftover portion she couldn’t use. I ate it – and loved it. I loved the feel of it in my mouth and the unique flavor. I will now look for it next to the cream cheese. I hope I find it.
    Thank you!
    Alice

  29. Bought your 1st book but am having trouble……Made the Soft American Style White Bread, Pg 204. All was fine thru the first rising, and then I refrigerated it overnight. The next AM I pulled it out of the fridge, and it had developed a hard crust on the yeast dough, so I cut it off and threw it away………? Next I sprinkled it with flour, cut off three pieces 2-1#and 1-3/4#, did the flour bit again an stretched it
    into a ball, and put it in three pans to rise again. Never happened. Baked it anyway, still didn’t rise at all, but was delicious. Only trouble was, We had to eat it…couldn’t give it to friends…….HELP!

  30. I just made the soft sandwich bread recipe from HBin5. The texture came out more like a cake than bread. What could I be missing?

    • Beverly: what flour brands did you use? Did you omit vital wheat gluten? Have you made other recipes from that book? Are you swapping any ingredients for something we didn’t call for?

      Resting time? Consider longer.

      Consider increasing the vital wheat gluten to 1/3 cup if nothing else seems to be the explanation. Jeff

  31. My daughter give me your book for Mother’s Day along with the plastic tubs. I have never made anything so easy. We have dinner guests at least once a week and I make it every time. My guests have even argued over the last piece. It makes me feel like a great cook.
    Thank you.

  32. I have made the master recipe as a loaf, but it was just a little dense for sandwiches.
    I used a store brand unbleached flour, Hogsdon Mill whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten. As far as I remember I used exactly what you called for. I have more dough left, so I will let it rest longer this time.
    What brands should I be using?

    • Hi Beverly,

      I think the hogdson mills flour is not ground quite as fine as some other whole wheat flours. You may want to try using a couple more tablespoons of vital wheat gluten to create more structure in the dough. You will also need to add a few more tablespoons of water.

      Thanks, Zoë

  33. I received you book for a birthday gift a couple of years ago, and started to work my way through it. My favorite recipe is the one that replaces a cup of flour with whole wheat and rye flours. I quit for a while, but started with this recipe again, but have made some modifications. I hate to waste the energy turning on my stove oven to bake one loaf at a time, so bake in a toaster oven. Since it is small, I cannot use the steam method….but quess what?? The bread turns out just fine, and the crust is soft. All who try this, love the bread…the rye gives it a beautiful taste. My 10 year old granddaughter makes it, and even uses the dough for cinnamon buns. Since I have started baking again, I will not go near the bakery. I have also used this dough, for flat bread and pizza crusts.

    • Hi Josi,

      So glad to hear this, we have heard that baking the bread in a toaster oven is a wonderful way to go!

      Thank you! Zoë

  34. Elaine, I bake all my breads–up to 2 Lb loaves– in covered dishes: glass, cast iron, corning ware types 1 1/2 to 2 qts work best. There’s no chance of burning as long as it’s covered so it’s great for bigger loaves. i uncover after 40 minutes and bake uncovered for 10 minutes longer.

  35. I like baking bigger loaves. Basically, I use half the dough to bake one loaf. In order to get the bread to cook all the way through without burning the crust, I start baking the loaf on the pizza stone on the bottom rack for about 20-25 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Then I remove the broiling pan and move the loaf to the middle rack and finish baking it there until the crust is nice and dark. I have had consistently good results with this method.
    I love your book by the way. I bought it for myself for Christmas. I grew up in Europe and have missed these breads for over 10 years. Now I can bake them myself and it makes me very happy :-)

    • Irene: Terrific, thanks for sharing your experience. So glad you’re enjoying the breads. Just back from Europe myself, and yes, there are some terrific breads.

  36. I don’t yet have a 6 QT container. The one I have is closer to 3 QT. If I want to make half of the original, basic Master Recipe, should I use exactly half of the original amounts (sometimes, I’ve noticed in other recipes, the proportions change
    when you deviate from the original recipe)? Thanks.

  37. This is so great. I just purchased the book yesterday, and have been reading it nonstop.

    I mixed up my first batch of dough last night, and made a loaf of bread today—just a plain boule.

    Oh my gosh, it was so great. Everyone in my family uniformly said it was the best bread I had ever made, and I had made some pretty good bread before. It was soft inside and had a wonderfully crispy crust.

    I have two questions:

    My knife had a terrible time cutting through it. I don’t think I have a specifically bread knife, but I used the sharpest knife we have in the house, and it had a bit of trouble getting through the crust. Is this normal?

    Also, what is a good internal temperature? I’m blind, so can’t go by the color of the crust. I tried what I do for other loaves, and tapped the bottom, and it sounded pretty good. But I like to use my thermometer to be as exact as possible. When I took it out, the internal temperature was 198° F.

    We loved the bread, but I just want to know what a good range for it is so I can be more exact and make sure I don’t under or over bake it. Heck,e very one loved it so much that it is all gone already after my family got to it. :D

    Oh, one more thing. The pound of dough I got out didn’t seem too big. The loaf was a decent size after it was done, though. However, the recipe for the baguette says to roll it out to about a 2-inch thick cylinder. With how big this dough was, I’m not sure a two-inch cylinder would be too long. How long should it get? My fiancé (wife this Saturday :D) loves baguettes so I’d like to make one for her.

    Thanks so much for your work. Now, as a college student, I can easily make fresh bread every day in the midst of classes and work and married life. I love baking, but I have to be practical, too, and this was just the answer to my need.

    • Yep, it’s normal. You really need a bread knife– see our Amazon store to the left for a reasonably priced one. Internal temp for lean breads is about 205, for enriched like challah and brioche 185.

      Lately I’ve been doing smaller baguettes and liking the results better. Orange sized piece is 1/2 pound, and I make it 1 1/4 inches wide. It will be about 18 inches long at this thickness. Unbaked.

  38. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks so much for your reply.

    I made one today. I thought it was around a pound of dough, though I don’t have a scale to measure it with. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong, but it was about an inch wide, and I rolled it out to about a foot long. Out of the oven, it was really good, but it actually was a bit fat. I don’t know if I rolled it too thick? I can’t imagine if it were 2 inches, and it couldn’t have been anything near a foot.

    It was about an inch before rising, after about 20 minutes it was a bit fatter, maybe 1.5 inches, and then it rose a lot in the oven.

    Getting a 7 qt dutch oven tomorrow, so I’m excited about that. :) The steam method is working, but we’ll be living in a school apartment and I don’t want to accidentally ruin their oven.

  39. Hi Zoë,

    Thanks so much. That really helps. :) Maybe I’ll try another one today. They are really easy to make with this technique.

  40. I’ve recently purchased your books, and have enjoyed beginning to use your method. Your recipes do use honey fairly often, however. Because I’m allergic to it, I’ll need to use sugar and liquid, or something else. Do you have a generally-preferred substitute?
    Thanks very much.

    • Hi Meg,

      You can use maple syrup, agave or sugar as a substitute for the honey. Depending on the recipe you may need to add a bit of water as well when using granulated suger.

      Thanks! Zoë

  41. You specify one cup of hot water to provide moisture for the loaves. Is the quantity of water important? All the water has evaporated by the time my loaf is done. Should I use more water so that there is always steam or is 1 cup sufficient?

  42. Not so crucial— it’s expected (and desirable) that the water dissipate early in the baking cycle. Large ovens should get more water, maybe 50% more. Jeff

  43. I found your recipe after searching for a recipe for balloon buns and the blogger had your recipe and a link to your main site. I decided I had to try it. FIrst go, I had purchased a light flour almost like cake flour but did no know it till the recipe made flour soup. The bread was tasty but flat. I ended up using it for focaccia with onions and fresh rosemary. Next I tried bread flour. WOwza! Easy peasy yummy bread. after the first loaf, I made Pletzls with onions and poppy seeds in a depression in the cener of the little buns. Winners! Last night I got adventurous and made the basic recipe and used 2 cups of WW flour and 4 1/2 cups bread flour. This is the best bread I have ever made!Thank you Thank you Thank you. Next batch shall be rye! And the book will be arriving soon!

  44. I just started baking this bread DAILY last week. The family Loves it!! Thank you for educating the masses on how to have fresh baked bread quickly and easily. (and yes – i work a full time job outside of the house while caring for my family)

  45. Thank you so much for this amazing information! I love your bread so much, as does my family! I have made it three times now and am addicted. I have shared this page with my readers on my blog, telling them how amazing your bread tastes and how easy the process is. You can read my article here:
    http://yourdimeyourtime.com/?p=274

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