Larger loaves: What adjustments are needed?

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In our books, our standard size for a loaf-bread is 1 pound (450 grams), or a piece of dough about the size of a grapefruit.  Why did we opt for these relatively small loaves?  Because for beginners, they reliably brown without burning, and are easy to bake through to a nice result in the center of the loaf.

Larger loaves need more baking to avoid a gummy result in the center, and that means longer baking times at the listed temperature.  Two pound loaves need about 45-50 minutes, and three pound loaves need about an hour.  Let the crust get nice and dark.  When baking large loaves, temperature is critical, so you must check your oven temp with an oven thermometer (click to see one on Amazon). 

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

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Freezing the Dough: Can I do it?

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Yes, you can, just wrap it very well or seal it in airtight containers, anytime after the initial rise. Defrost overnight in the fridge when ready to use, then shape, rest, and bake as usual.  How long to freeze is a bit controversial — our dough loses a bit of rising power over time in the freezer, and that’s especially true for enriched doughs like challah and brioche.  Our testers were happy with lean dough frozen for four weeks (dough made without eggs, butter, or oil). For enriched doughs, we’d recommend shorter frozen storage times: challah, three weeks, and for brioche, two weeks. There’s no need to increase the yeast or make any other changes to dough that will be frozen.

This can be very handy when you don’t use up the entire batch before it reaches the end of its storage life in the refrigerator.

Same recommendations for our gluten-free doughs…

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

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Three Ways To Get Steam Into Your Oven For a Great Crust: VIDEO

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In Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, we talked about a way to get steam into the oven to create a great, crispy, caramelized crust on lean (un-enriched) loaves:  pouring water into a pre-heated METAL (not glass) broiler tray or other pan just before you close the oven door.  To be extra-safe about your glass oven window, protect it from the water with a towel before you pour the water; remove the towel before closing the oven door. Some older non-tempered glass windows can crack if you get water on them when they’re hot.  This metal-tray method works well in most ovens.

But some ovens are a bit temperamental about this.  Really large ovens, or really well-vented ones, and in many cases, professional-quality ovens installed in homes, seem to let the steam escape and you end up with a dull, pale-colored crust that never gets crisp.  We’ve got a video of some excellent alternatives… Continue reading

I posted a comment to this site but it hasn’t appeared. What happened?

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If you don’t find the answer to your bread questions on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) tab, we encourage you to post into any of our “Comments” fields by clicking on the line that says “Leave a Comment” or “X Comments” just under the date of each post.

But please remember, our blog/website is moderated.  That means that your comment doesn’t appear on our website until it has been approved, especially if you’ve never posted to our site before.  That could take up to 24 hours.  Here are some guidelines for comments that we are not willing to approve for our site:

  1. References to commercial sites or endorsements for products, especially if the Authors haven’t used or otherwise can’t vouch for the product.  In particular, we’re not likely to approve website addresses (URLs) in this situation. The converse is also true– if you say that you dislike a product, we may remove or edit your comment unless we’ve had the same experience with it.
  2. Health claims: The science behind health claims made by products and about ingredients is often murky and controversial.  We’re happy to answer questions about the health of ingredients or techniques in our books,  but please don’t make complex health claims here on the website–in particular, claims about weight loss or disease prevention/control related to food ingredients. Like product endorsements, we’re likely to remove those kinds of comments.
  3. Offensive or rude remarks: Usual manners apply!  (Thank you)
  4. Pingbacks: Please don’t set up your own blog to insert Pingbacks into our site.

Pretty much everything else is fair game.  One other thing— very rarely, we simply miss someone’s comment.  It’s just an oversight; if we haven’t answered you within 48 hours and you met the guidelines above, please “comment” again.

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Left the dough on the counter overnight! Can I still use it?

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After mixing the dough, our recipes only require two hours at room temperature for their initial rise (assuming you’ve used lukewarm water); then the container goes into the refrigerator where it can be stored for up to two weeks (depending on the recipe). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the answer to this question depends on whether or not there were eggs in the recipe. Their website says that eggs should be refrigerated after two hours at room temperature (see their website, scroll down to relevant section).

For our doughs without eggs, when we’ve occasionally forgotten a batch and left it on the counter overnight, we’ve found that this has little effect on the final result, maybe just shortens the batch life by a day or two.

So, what would USDA recommend if you’re doing a long rise with dough containing eggs? Sounds like the first two hours are safe at room temperature, then into the refrigerator to complete the rising. We leave it to our readers to decide about how to handle egg doughs in light of USDA’s recommendation.

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

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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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Stone just broke! What did I do wrong?

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Short answer:  Nothing.  We’ve found that stones do not last forever, though Jeff’s first one lasted through 11 years of daily baking. It seems clear that the 1/2-inch thick ones are very durable, and and some brands (not all) of the 1/4-inch thick stones are less so.

Incidentally, you can often use the broken pieces of the stone, depending on the size and shape of the fragments.

Alternatives to these ceramic stones include the newer cast-iron pizza “stones,” or even just a cast-iron skillet, which we’ve found work quite nicely.  Or try a Dutch Oven http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=552 or even the baking cloches http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=566, though our best guess is that cloches, being ceramic, are eventually going to break like the stones.  Iron, definitely not–these should never have a problem with cracking.

For a review of stones, click here. More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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Can I use your recipes on my website, in my class, or in a publication?

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We love it when food-lovers talk about our books on their own websites or in classes that they teach in their communities.  We get lots of questions from them about whether they can use recipes or other material on websites or in classes.  The answer is a little complicated.  We can’t extend written permission to copy recipes or text from our books.  That would be seen as waiving our copyright, which we can’t do.  But, our recipes can be used, in modified form.  Here’s how we understand copyright law, and this is what we’d ask you to do if you want to teach your own readers how our recipes work:

1.  Copyright law prohibits you from using exact text from our books or website.  It also prohibits you from copying recipes into your website, class materials, printed books, electronic books, or elsewhere.

2.  Modified versions of recipes can be used; that doesn’t violate copyright law.  This applies to websites and to printed materials.

3.  Please mention our books and website (BreadIn5.com) as sources for the full and original versions of the recipes.

4.  Photographs from the books and on this website are copyrighted and cannot be used without expressed permission. To arrange special permission in specific circumstances, please contact us through this website.

Thanks for your enthusiasm.  We do want to encourage people to talk about our books on the web.

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Missing instructions and missing recipes from the website: Some of the web-based recipes don’t have everything I need to make the bread, and some recipes are missing altogether

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We’re sometimes asked to provide details that don’t appear in a web version of a recipe here on our site.  In many cases, our web versions contain the full recipe, including all baking instructions, temperatures, etc.  But in most cases, we can’t do that.  Why not?

Well, to make a long story short, our publisher would kill us if we put all our recipes up here on the website, for free!  There’d really be little reason for anyone to buy our books.  This site is mainly a way of reaching out to our readers, and supporting them as they work on recipes that appear in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day.  If the answer to your question appears in one of our books, we’ll probably just refer you there.

We really enjoy connecting with our readers this way, and we’re proud to be among the few cookbook authors who are personally answering questions from people who’ve bought our books (thank you!).  We hope to talk with all of you about our recipes soon.

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Contest and Giveaway Rules (don’t post your entry here!)

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From time to time we run giveaways here on the website.  Sometimes it’s one of our books or baking equipment, other times, it’s been ingredients.  We randomly select from entrants who respond to the post using the Comments field in the post where the contest announcement appeared (don’t post your entry anywhere else or we won’t see it).  Here are contest rules:

  1. We will only ship to U.S. addresses in the 50 states.  You must supply your e-mail address so that we can notify you if you are a winner, and you must respond to our e-mail within 24 hours to win (winners will not be notified by surface mail).
  2. You must type  your “Comment” entry under the post announcing the contest.
  3. Only one entry in any single contest is allowed. If you post a Comment more than once, you will be disqualified.  But you can enter in any or all of our contests over time.
  4. If selected, you will be notified by e-mail and you must respond with a U.S. mailing address within 24 hours to claim your prize, otherwise we’ll repeat the drawing for an alternative winner.

Good luck!

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