Traditional recipes: How can they be converted to the ABin5 method?

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People sometimes ask us for simple formulas for converting traditional bread recipes to our stored-dough method.  Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to the question.  Developing recipes for our books takes lots (and lots) of trial and error.

If we put our our testing methods and approaches up here on the web, our publisher would kill us!  If you want to try to convert a traditional recipe to our high-moisture, stored-dough method, read through the two books to get a sense of the moisture level that’s needed, then check out the rest of the FAQs here on the website.  Pay attention to our “videos” tab as well.  It may take a bit of work, but you should be able to transform your existing repertoire.

Happy experimenting! More details on our method in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with others using one of the social sharing buttons above. Thanks, Jeff and Zoë

93 thoughts on “Traditional recipes: How can they be converted to the ABin5 method?

  1. I’m sure you’re right but I expected to find a variation for using whole wheat flour as part of the AB5 Master Recipe, but it’s just not there. Could you just tell me what percentage I can substitute, and still get a good bread? Or would I have to add gluten flour?

  2. I need a rye bread recipe hopefully with very little whole wheat flour and where I would be using vital wheat gluten because of living at almost 10 thous. feet – Thanks

  3. Jeff, I’m using your first book and I can’t afford your second book at this time. I suppose I could just experiment but it would be nice to not have to waste flour, heat and time.

  4. Help! In the Buckwheat bread recipe in HBin5 I misread the directions and didn’t subtract the 1 cup of soaking water for the groats from the total. Now my dough has an additional cup of water in the mix. Can this be rescued? By now it is well risen and ready for the fridge.

    • Hi Richard,

      You can always add more flour to the recipes, even if they have been rising for days in the bucket. After you add the additional flour you need to allow the dough to rest again to let the flour absorb the excess water. Then refrigerate and use as usual.

      Thanks, Zoe

  5. Have you ever tried to use the potassium chloride salt in the bread recipes especially ones using whole wheat flour? I need to make bread for a guest who is on a very low sodium diet. I am concerned about a possible reaction with the wheat especially in flavor.

  6. Reba: Yes, it does work… but you have to be OK with the difference in flavor– it’s not by any means exactly the same as sodium-based salt. Could try half and half? In our second book we decreased salt to 1/2 tablespoon so you could use that as a starting point.

    Going to zero sodium salt does have an effect on the texture; salt helps gluten to develop. You’ll see what I mean.

    But they’re definitely decent breads when made with the potassium salt. Jeff

  7. I could swear that somewhere I saw a little guide about baking in a loaf pan at lower temps with no steam for a softer sandwich bread type loaf. Help!

  8. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I want to make pizza and I heard that the Brioche recipe makes good pizza because it is softer (for kids). Do you recommend that? My grandkids will not eat sauce on their pizza so I only put cheese and pepperoni on it>

    • Bettyanne: You can do pizza on enriched doughs, just turn down the oven heat. You can go higher than 350 though, maybe 400 or 450 depending on the oven. Usually gets done before the eggy dough scorches, which can happen. Same with sweetened doughs, so watch for that. Jeff

  9. I posted a question a day or two ago about vegan alternatives to using eggs for enriched doughs. I’m going to try something tomorrow — I’ll let you know how this turns out. For the volume of egg whites, I’ll use flax seeds in water that have been put into a food processor with a chopping blade. I think it is 1/4 cup flax seeds with 1/3 cup water for 2 eggs. That gives the mucilage and the Omega 3 taste of eggs, and then for the yolk, I’m going to try 1 Tbsp of some nut or seed butter for each egg. I think I’ll try cashew butter first because it has a relatively neutral taste. I am hoping this combo will give me the protein/fat/texture/flavor approximation to eggs. I saw one of the enriched recipes had 2 eggs. I’ll try that first before attempting the Brioche! HAHA!

  10. If it helps, I’ve managed to convert a few recipes by finding a similar “base” dough, and adjusting flavors. Adding a little flavoring or herbs doesn’t seem to throw off the dough, so it’s fairly easy for most doughs.

    I just need to figure out how to use almond paste in a stored dough :)

  11. I shared the light rye bread recipe with my sister-in-law and she is wondering if she can increase the amount of rye flour to white flour ratio as she loves a strong rye flavor.

    • Hi Barbara,

      We have a rye bread in our second book HBin5 that has more rye flour in it, along with some whole wheat. The problem with adding much more rye is that it has very little gluten and will make for a denser loaf. If she wants to add much more rye she may also want to add some vital wheat gluten which will give the dough more stretch. This is an ingredient we use in HBin5.

      Thanks and let us know how she makes out! Zoë

    • Yuriko: Our recipes were designed for a loaf pan that’s 9 inches long, same other dimensions. So you just need about 45% more dough per loaf, so almost half again. Same baking time since the height and width are the same. Jeff

      • Just to clarify – your recipes say to take approximately a pound of dough out of the bucket to bake. Does that mean you would also take a pound of dough for your 9 inch pan? I want to get this right because I also have a pullman pan that I would like to use – mine is 15 inches, though. So does that mean I would take 1 and 2/3rds pounds of dough for my pan?

  12. Have you guys done an ABin5 that’s based on a molasses rye recipe? I’d like to convert my favourite recipe into an ABin5, but before I start working on that I was wondering if you’d done it already. (This particular bread is a huge pain, as it’s one that requires 3 rises rather than 2.)

  13. stupid question – do you use a bread maker for your recipes or just the oven? If only the oven, do you have a list of required materials to start with?

  14. Hi,
    Just wondering if your recipes can be converted to traditional kneading recipes? A friend loves the quinoa bread but can’t get past the ‘old’ way of doing it. Other recipes for quinoa bread all require cooking the quinoa first (pain!), and yours is just so easy I would love for her to be able to use it.

    Thanks! I have both books and absolutely love cooking bread these days.

    • Gigi: You can knead, but only once, immediately after mixing and before rising. Never again or you’ll have bricks and doorstops!

      You need to use wet hands, not flour, to knead wet dough. A dough scraper and a wet surface is also helpful. Alternatively, I’ve done this in the mixing bucket, again, with wet hands. Jeff

  15. Hello, I have both books – won Bread Grand Champion at our county fair this summer with the ABin5!! I have a wonderful whole wheat bread recipe that I would like to convert to being able to live in the fridge. I was wondering if buttermilk, oil and honey (1/3 cup of each) would somehow affect its ability to perform well in the fridge? I tried just making my regular recipe and putting it in the fridge, but I didn’t get a good rise out of it at all once I pulled it out. Thanks, Deb

  16. I got your book a few years ago, and I’ve absolutely LOVED working my way through it. My parents have had a bread machine for quite some time, but haven’t been using it for years. I offered to take it off their hands, so it didn’t go to waste. I has been a very useful tool. I tried to make “The Master Recipe: Boule”, on pg. 26 of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, using the bread machine. Knowing that your doughs are more on the wet side, I thought it might help to add some vital wheat gluten and additional flour, in small increments until it came away from the sides of the machine while kneading. However, once it was finished baking, the crumb was very dense, and it was nothing like the boule that I made when I followed the recipe by hand.
    So I have two questions: If I were to follow your recipe exactly, but kneaded the dough using the machine, would the excessive kneading destroy the dough?
    Secondly, is there a simple way to bake your bread recipes in the machine, or should I stick with the bland ones that the machine came with? :(

    • Malina: If you leave the proportions alone, and don’t overdo it with the machine, I can’t see why it shouldn’t make a nice dough. We’ve never experimented with bread machines and this kind of wet dough (I don’t own one, neither does Zoe!).

      The only question is whether stuff this wet would have a hard time getting baked all the way through, or if it might end up gummy. It’s worth a try if you think the bread machine saves you trouble. I’m not convinced that it does– the storage of the dough is the convenience. Jeff

      • Hi Jeff – thanks for your answer on the bread machine…I just gave my old one to a friend since I haven’t used it in over a year (hmm…just about the time I discovered ABin5 LOL) and she was wondering if your recipes would convert. Thank you for your awesome books!! (I should get my HBin5 on Monday – woot!)

      • Faye: I’ve never used a bread machine… the question is whether our method is “too” wet for those machines, and that would throw off the baking time. Is the baking time adjustable in those? If so I’d guess you can use our recipes in there.

        But don’t they have a mix-cycle? Not sure what would happen if you mixed again, might be a problem w/older dough. Jeff

  17. I love the ABin5, and just got HBin5 from the library. I”m a whole grain bread fanatic, so I was thrilled to start baking. I tried the Basic recipe but honestly wasn’t thrilled with the flavor. If I added a bit of honey or sugar to the recipe will this affect the 14 day “shelf” life? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Leah,

      You can certainly add a bit of sweetener to the master recipe, there are directions for doing so on page 80. There are many other recipes in the book that have a bit of sweetness to them as well.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  18. Thanks, so the sweetener won’t affect the 14 days? Also, just one more question, when I double a recipe am I supposed to double the yeast? Maybe you said it in the book, I couldn’t find it though. I know in other bread recipes I have, they sometimes say NOT to double the yeast, but I don’t know why. If you don’t double it, will it affect the rising time? I don’t want to have to double the rising time, but I also don’t want an overly yeasty taste. What to do? Thanks!

  19. I want to have a play with substituting the honey with brown sugar. Will I have to increase the liquid and add extra sugar(to achieve the same sweetness)?
    Thanks.

  20. Either the brioche or challah – I have a favourite recipe for cinnamon buns with brown sugar used in the dough but would love to be able to make something similar in 5 mins.
    Thanks again

  21. Monique– in my favorite old recipe for the traditional challah, there’s no change if you go from honey (1/2 cup) to white sugar (same amount). There’s a slight discrepancy because of the liquid but it’s not detectable over four pounds of dough. If you’re finding the dough’s too dry (doubt it), try it with 2 tablespoons extra water. Jeff

  22. Hi Jeff and Zoe! Thank you guys for two great books! I had the hardest time making breads from ABi5 this winter, because they just didn’t want to rise after initial mixing and before refrigerator. Our inhouse temperature is about 62-65 degrees F in the winter. I’ve tried using oven and space heater to heat up the surround temperature to no avail. Could you give me some advice? I was going to make breads for family and friends for Christmas but didn’t in the end, because my doughs were being difficult. Please help, thank you!

    • Hi C,

      What temperature was the water that you are using? Did the dough rise at all, just not enough? Are you sure your yeast is still good?

      Thanks, Zoë

  23. Hi: I recently purchased a 9x9x2 (smaller version) pullman pain de mie pan and was wondering if anyone has made the no-knead in this type of pan? I would like to know how much dough would be needed for this size pan and if you have any particular instructions. Sorry if answ. has been posted elsewhere. Thanks, Chris.

    • Hi Chris,

      I have never baked the dough in a pullman pan, despite wanting to for years. I would love it if you would report back once you have tried it.

      Thank you, Zoë

  24. Thank you for your quick reply. I can tell you that I did try a 1 lb. portion, let it rise for about 1 1/2 hrs. and baked according to a recipe I found on the KAF web site for a small pain de mie. It was apparent early on in the rise that 1 lb. was no where near enough for the height of the pan. (It’s supposed to reach the top so that it forms a square loaf I guess.) Also, the amount of time I baked it for was not long enough.
    Have a fresh batch of dough in the fridge, and I am going to do more experimenting. I would be happy to report my findings.
    I know you’ve heard this a million times, but personally, after years of wanting to be a successful bread baker & never quite getting there, I am so happy to be one thanks to your method. I made my 1st “boule” and it turned out exactly like your picture from book 1. I ran around the house showing off my perfect little creation to the family. (yes, they rolled their eyes) Sounds silly, I know, but thank You–

    • Hi Chris,

      We understand that excitement of pulling a lovely loaf out of the oven. Still to this day we get excited by it! ;)

      Thanks and I look forward to the updates of your loaf in the pullman pan.

      Zoë

  25. I’m just hoping someone will create a recipe for English muffins, preferably whole grain, that uses your techniques. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m happy to bake bread, so long as it is in the “Five Minutes a Day” mode, and I love English muffins, especially freshly “baked” on the griddle.

    • Anna: Just type “english muffin” in the Search bar above and it’s the fourth one down. Should work with whole grain doughs, just experiment. Jeff

  26. I live in SE Arizona where it is not economical to bake inside in the summer. I have an outside oven that only goes to 400 degrees. Do I just cook longer at like 375?

    • Annie– yes, you’ll need a longer bake time (30 to 50%?), and you should be able to use the 400 setting. Crust won’t be as crisp for the lean doughs though. Jeff

  27. Thank you so much, I have made the Artisan bread this winter and loved it. I am looking forward to making bread this summer, as I made cinnamon rolls and sticky buns around and for Christmas. I used to bake bread alot and quit, and then when I tried it again, I had footballs that were solid Haha. I make fresh tortillas all the time, but I love fresh bread slathered in butter. MMMMmm, so I will experiment in my little oven outside with 30 to 50% longer cooking times. Thank you so much, I have ABin5min and the HBin5. I showed the latter to my mom and she was excited with the book, she is diabetic and has to watch what she eats, so she is looking forward to trying some of the recipes. Thanks again.

  28. I also will try to cook some of these in my dutch ovens on coals. I am sure that I can keep the fire more than hot enough for 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

  29. Also, read that one option you can use for sourdough starter is boiledpotato water. Can you use that instead of tap water with no problems in these breads?

    • Hi Annie,

      I have never tried potato water, but I am sure it will work very well. Please let us know how you like it!

      Thanks and enjoy all the bread! Zoë

  30. Annie: I’m assuming that you’re using a little packaged yeast too. If you’re trying to use purely wild yeast, traditional writers say that the chlorine in tap water can inhibit the startup growth phase. I don’t know if that’s true, or over-cautious. Jeff

  31. I have your first and second book and think there great.My ? is can I incorporate my sour dough starters in the recipes ?

  32. Your quinoia bread uses plain uncooked quinoia—I thought quinoia has a bitter coating that has to be Ron Ed off. Am I missing something?

    In bought both of your books and read them like novels. Love them. Now I’ve baked the Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, and it’s to die for! Both the fresh dough, and the stored.

    Why do you recommend freezing only the enriched doughs? Can lean doughs be frozen?

    Thanks for your bread in 5minute books!!!

    • Hi Susan,

      Most of the commercially available quinoa already has that outer layer removed, so you can use it in its raw form.

      You certainly can freeze any and all of the doughs. We just mention it specially in the enriched dough because they can only be refrigerated for 5-7 days.

      Thank you, Zoë

  33. Hi Jeff and Zoe, I love your first book. I originally tried your method so we’d always have pizza dough on hand. (We do. It rocks.) After trying my first batch of challah dough, I want to figure out how to mash up my grandmother’s kolache dough recipe to use this method. Kolache dough typically contains milk; do you see any problems swapping an equal amount of water out for milk in the challah or brioche recipes? That won’t make an exact clone but it will give me something to start with, I think. Thanks, Katie.

    • Katie: Sure, try the milk swap, result will be tenderer, and might be a little dense. But not for rolls like kolache, which are small. Could also try half milk/half water?

  34. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I am using AB in 5 and I was wondering if the bran enriched white bread (p. 72) can be baked in a loaf pan?

    Also, can almost any bread be baked in a loaf pan? How do you know which kind of dough is suitable for a loaf pan.

    • Lindsay: Anything can be done in a loaf pan, but often you have to increase the baking time, and, especially for enriched breads, you may need to turn down the heat a little if the outside is scorching before the middle to baked through.

      Baking time may increase by up to 50 percent in a loaf pan; depends on the size of the pan.

      You can omit the water for a softer crust, but the color will be blah. Another approach is to paint oil or butter on the crust, which seems to help the color and keep in very soft. No steam in the oven in that case. Jeff

  35. Sorry, one more question. Can I skip putting the water in the broiler pan when I put the bread in the oven if I want a softer crust?

  36. Thanks so much for your feedback! Do you think lowering the temperature by about 50 degrees would be safe if I baked the bread in a loaf pan?

    • Hi Lindsay,

      Yes, I think starting at 400° will do fine. If the top of the loaf seems to be darkening too quickly after about 30 minutes, just turn the oven down to 350° to finish.

      Thanks, Zoë

  37. Thank you again for the feedback. I was also wondering why bread baked in a loaf pan calls for longer resting times before you bake it.

    • Hi Lindsay,

      We tend to use more dough and it is usually a taller loaf, since it isn’t able to spread out. The bigger, taller the loaf the more time it needs to rest or it will be too dense.

      THanks, Zoë

  38. Hi,love both your books haven’t read pizza and flatbread book yet. SO after 30yrs of bread making hiatus I am making bread again. Have a small problem with my technique att sliding dough off the peel, but i am sure that will come. I love your rye bread. I am Hungarian by birth and grew up on good rye bread now I make a loaf every second day.Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Judith,

      You may want to try baking the bread on a sheet of parchment paper, which allows you to slide the loaf easily into the oven. Just peel the paper off after the loaf is done baking.

      Thanks, Zoë

  39. Hi there,

    I am seeing a lot of no-knead bread recipes around the internet nowadays. Is kneading really necessary for traditional bread recipes? What would happen if I did not knead the dough?

  40. I just bought ABin5 and saw that you said not to use bleached flour. I don’t buy bleached, but my husband brought me home a very large bag of it. You said that it won’t work because it’s lower in protein. Is there any reason I can’t just dump in some extra gluten (which I have already) to compensate for it?

    Also, you said the same about graham flour. Can I use extra gluten instead of doing part bread flour?

  41. Hi
    I recently purchased a bread cloche by Emile Henry. Would is be appropriate to use with the higher moisture content dough that you make. It works very well with standard dough recipes in keeping the moisture level constant and giving crusty loaves with a tender crumb.
    Thanks
    Fataemah

    • Hi Fatemah,

      I was just editing a post about baking bread in the Emile Henry Cloche! It works wonderfully. I will be posting about it soon.

      Thanks! Zoë

  42. I have all of your books, except the newest. I was deciding if I should get it in addition to the original one I have…in reading the reviews online, I saw several people referring to the 6-2-2-13 formula. I was wondering what it was and if it’s only in your new book or in the others as well?

    Thanks,
    Michele

  43. I don’t have enough room in my refrigerator for a 6 quart container and probably would not be making that much bread within a two week period anyway. I live alone and on a fixed income and would like to try this method but don’t want to buy anything more than I already have. Can these recipes be cut in half and kept in a non airtight stoneware crock?

    • Hi Lilianna,

      Yes, all the recipes in the books can be halved and storing in a stoneware crock will work just great.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  44. I altered the Healthy Bread Master Recipe and added honey and olive oil. The bread tastes great, but I am having trouble with the crust browning too fast due to the addition of the honey. I droped the oven temp to 400 degrees and baked the bread for 30 min. It was slightly underbaked in the center but the color of the crust was perfect. I am baking on a stone and using steam. Any suggestions on how to slow down the browning of the crust so it doesn’t burn? Thank You!

  45. Have your New AB in 5 book and am loving the recipes – but was wondering how I might use Spent Grain from home beer making in one of your Master recipes? Our favorite so far is the European Peasant Bread. Thanks!

    • Hi Greg,

      I’ve never actually used spent grain in bread, so I’m hoping one of our readers may jump in here. If you happen to try it, please let me know how it goes.

      Good luck! Zoë

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