Easy Bread FAQ

Easy bread faq- your top questions about my most popular recipe!Years ago when I blogged about a newly discovered recipe that changed the way my family enjoyed homemade bread, I had no idea that it would be a top post here on Gwen’s Nest! I also had no clue that I would one day be using a whole wheat carb friendly version to lose weight on the Trim Healthy Mama plan.

best bread recipe

(And I had *no* clue how to take a decent photograph back then. And for that I apologize.) 

If you missed the easy bread recipe, just click this link or the bread photo above.

You’ve had lots of great questions, and I wanted to take a few minutes and address the most frequently asked questions about the easy bread recipe.

P.S. Don’t see your question in the bread faq below? Just post in the comments and I’ll answer it or add it.

P.S.S. If you have a great tip please leave that too! I love to learn from my readers!


 

Easy Bread FAQ

Q. Isn’t this like the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day recipe?
A. Yes! It’s an artisan bread recipe similar to theirs. But it’s not a ‘knock off’ by any means. Let me explain… The original recipe for no-knead bread dates back to 2006 to Jim Leahy’s No-Knead Bread article in the New York Times. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois’ came out with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day the following year. Their books are great resources for additional methods and recipes if you really love this style of baking, and they are on my Amazon wish list.
But when I posted this recipe I didn’t know that the Artisan Bread in Five books existed. I first saw this recipe in the summer of 2010 on this gorgeous blog called The Italian Dish. You’ll even find her video in my Easy Bread post, and I gave her credit as my source.
Blogging and cooking are all about creating and sharing…putting your own spin on things, so that is what I share with you here. My own spin, photos, and instructions, shared with you. :)IMG_4456
Q. Can I make this bread gluten free?
A. Artisan Bread in Five has a gluten free artisan bread recipe here that a friend of mine uses with my method above. Not sure on the Trim & Healthy nature of it though. :)

IMG_4521
Q. Is this a true sourdough, since you’re adding yeast?
A. Yes and no. It’s not a wild caught sourdough, but it is fermented. Commercial yeast is used here as the microbe that fuels the fermentation process, and breaks down the gluten in the bread.

Q. My dough didn’t rise at all…any idea why?
A. Get some fresh yeast, and/or skip heating your water. You have to get a live yeast reaction/rise going to make this recipe work .
Q. My bread didn’t rise when I baked it. What am I doing wrong?
A. If you’re using a majority of whole wheat, I’ve found that the little sharp flecks of bran tends to pop the bubbles. Another reason why this bread doesn’t rise well is that you’re fermenting it for several days, and that breaks down the gluten, which is what gives bread dough its elasticity so that the air bubbles can stretch and rise. My solution is to just use the whole wheat easy bread as flatbread. I still get a nice little rise with it, and I add all kinds of delicious flavors or toppings (and make pizza with it!) But I haven’t figured out how to make a nice sandwich loaf. Yet.IMG_4525

Q. Can you tell me the finished carb count of this bread?
A. The actual carb count doesn’t lower, but the way the carb is processed by the body is changed in the fermentation process, so it goes from being a naughty carb to a nice carb. For most of us. Try it out and see if you can tell a difference! I definitely can. When I eat this bread, I don’t get that hollow stomach hunger cravings thing like when I eat refined carbs. A smaller amount is very satisfying to me, and filling.

For those of you who are “mathy” (I’m not, but I love ‘ya, so I did some math for ‘ya): If you use 6 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour for the easy bread recipe, that’s 595 net carbs. If you use 1/3 of the dough to make loaves of bread or flatbreads/pizza crusts, then that’s right around 200 net carbs (198.46 net carbs) per loaf or per crust. I divide my crust into 12 slices, and enjoy 2, which puts my carb intake somewhere around 16 1/2 carbs total for the crust. So there you have it.IMG_4527

Q. Have you tried this bread with spelt? Or sprouted flour? Or buckwheat flour? Or kamut? Or….?
A. Nope. I’m a very boring person, really. I’m not very adventurous with bread, which is why I love a basic, easy recipe. BUT, if you do try it, please comment and let me know how it works! You may talk me into it, and will probably help someone else who is wondering the same thing. :)

I *have* used the following

  • White whole wheat- just like regular whole wheat except the variety of grain is white instead of red. It still has the bran in tact, and doesn’t rise as much as all purpose flour, but it’s a lighter look & taste. I like the King Arthur brand.
  • Fresh ground white whole wheat. Because I like to feel just a little bit like Laura Ingalls Wilder. :)
  • All Purpose flour, unbleached- true confession. This is what I used originally when I created the recipe. And it makes an amazing loaf of bread. Alas.

 

Q. My dough has been in the fridge for over a week and the top is dark and has little spots on it. Is this mold or is it still safe to use it? IMG_4517
A. The dark surface is totally normal, and is simply surface oxidation. It can get much darker than the photo above, but you can see the process is already starting. I have baked it with the oxidized layer and don’t notice any difference in texture or flavor.
The dots are usually just pinpoint air holes from the yeast bubbles popping. It will sometimes get a watery “hooch” on the top as well, which is a byproduct of fermentation and can be poured off.
I go by smell. If your dough is overly fermented, you can definitely smell a very sour smell. I find that mine keeps and bakes up nicely up to 2 weeks, but beyond that it gets a little too twangy for  my taste.

Q. I left my lid partly open, and the top of my dough is dry. Is it supposed to dry out like that?
A. You can remove the dried portion and use the underlying dough, but next time just set the lid all the way over the dough to keep it damp. If you have a container that seals closed, just don’t seal it, as the gas produced can create pressure, breakage, etc.IMG_4530

Q. I don’t have a jar, and don’t have that much space in my fridge. Can I make a smaller batch?
A. Definitely! Halve the recipe, and use whatever container you have on hand to hold your dough. A half gallon canning jar works nicely, or I cleaned out a tub that some organic spinach came in and used that when I was first getting started.

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Easy bread faq- your top questions about my most popular no knead TOTALLY EASY artisan bread recipe!

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    • says

      Heidi, it’s probably the whole wheat making it very heavy…see the above explanation with the bread not rising well. Some long ferment sourdoughs are like this too.

  1. Debbie says

    WE LOVE this recipe and it makes the best pizza! I must admit to never trying it for bread, but we have made the 5 minute artisan bread recipe from elsewhere.

    We avoid wheat and use a combination of spelt, oat and barley and it works quite well for pizza crust. We just tweaked it and cut the water back.
    ½ cup barley flour, 1 ½ cups oat flour, 4 cups +/- white spelt/freshly ground whole spelt combined. (we might vary the ratios some)
    1 T. salt
    1 ½ tablespoons yeast
    2 ½ cups warm water

    We’ve also used it after as long as 4 weeks in the fridge….no problem. Even the one time it smelled sour as a raw dough and while baking you couldn’t detect it in the finished crust! We just pour off the grayish liquid that accumulates on the top.

    Thanks Gwen! And to think I found you by way of a post on bitters on a yahoo group! =)

  2. Darlene says

    I have to confess that my family was not bowled over by the taste and neither was I. I had high expections after all the raving I saw on Pinterest and THM pages and sites. I used the THM four ratio so I had more ww that white flour. I think it just tasted – flat. Can I do 50-50 for THM or will it provide too many carbs? Or do you have a suggestion?

    • says

      Try bumping up the salt a bit if the flavor isn’t there. Try it as a flatbread or pizza, where you can add more flavors to the bread. And maybe try a different brand of flour?

  3. Linda Conrad says

    I’m not sure I understand the THM part of this bread. In order to be THM friendly, I need to use mostly whole wheat flour? So far I’ve made it as you say in your recipe (mostly whole wheat with a little white flour) but I find it too heavy for our taste. So….if I were to use 4.5 c. white flour and 1.5 c. whole wheat, would the bread not be THM friendly even though it’s fermented?

    • says

      Correct, Linda. Pearl said that the bread needs to be primarily whole wheat in order to have the fiber and nutrients to be considered a good THM E source of carbs. (And the fiber helps keep the blood sugar response mediated). So using more white flour would make tastier bread, but not THM-able.

      That’s why I’ve chosen to use this as a flatbread for my THM meals. Well, that and it’s far quicker than baking a loaf of bread. :)

  4. Carolyn says

    Have you or anyone you know done something similar to this with sourdough? I am trying to maintain a sourdough starter, but love the idea of having ready-made bread dough in the fridge to use whenever…..I’m wondering if the sourdough would break he dough down too much tho.

    • says

      I tried it and wasn’t happy with the results…I may play with it some more with the ratios, but my dough ended up really runny and I’m thinking it may have just broken it down too quickly. I may try it at 3 days out and see if I get a better result, or use a smaller amount of sourdough? I’m testing it out. :)

      I’d love to hear from other readers if they’ve done this method successfully with sourdough starter!

      • Dana Postiglione says

        I left it for 7 days and it’s soup, I’m baking it now but its sliding over the edge of the pan, lol!

  5. jessica says

    I don’t have a jar and there’s not much space in my fridge, so I used a plastic gallon pitcher. Aside from damaging my children who expected tea or juice to be in the pitcher, this worked great for me.

  6. Nicky says

    Forgive me if you talk about this somewhere, do you use this recipe to make dinner rolls, sandwich buns or pitas? Or any advice on how I could do that? Thanks for your blog it is inspiring and funny.

  7. says

    A FRIEND ONCE GAVE ME A ZIP LOCK PLASTIC BAG WITH A DOUGH WHICH NEEDED TO BE FERMENTED 10 DAYS BEFORE BAKING. EVERY DAY THE BAG HAD AIR, AND IT HAD TO BE OPEN AT THE ZIP, SQUEEZE OUT THE AIR. THEN SHAKE THE MIX IN THE BAG. AND LET TO KEEP PROOFING UNTIL BAKING DAY, WHEN MORE INGREDIENTS WERE ADDED. THE DOUGH WAS TO BE DIVIDED IN 4 EQUAL PORTIONS, A PORTION TO BAKE AND THE OTHERS TO KEEP PROOFING OR FERMENTING, STARTING THE WHOLE PROCESS AGAIN TO MAKE MORE AND SHARE IF YOU DON’T HAVE A LOT OF FAMILY TO EAT THE BAKE PRODUCT.IS ENTERTAINING TO MAKE, BUT TIME CONSUMING.THE ONLY REASON I MAKE SO MUCH WORK FOR BAKE GOODS IS THE SMELL AND FLAVOR OF THE YEAST FRESHLY BAKED. I LOVE IT.

  8. Jamie says

    Once the dough has sat in the fridge for 3-5 days can it be frozen into smaller portions for later use and still be THM compatible?

    • says

      I think it can, but I haven’t done testing with this personally. I have however par-baked a pizza crust and frozen with great results. I just baked for 8-10 minutes to set the dough but not brown it, and then bake for an additional 10+ minutes after thawing and topping.

  9. Rachel says

    I have made this dough twice. Both times I have baked it as pizza dough on parchment paper on my pizza stone. Both times we get a LOT of extra fiber because the crust and parchment paper fuse together… what am i doing wrong?

    • says

      I’ve seen other people say this, but I’ve never had it happen, and I’ve used a couple of different types of parchment paper. If I were to troubleshoot this, I’d guess that its either got to do with a specific brand of parchment paper that’s not effective, OR your oven is too hot, OR maybe you’re not baking it quite long enough?

      I’d test your oven temp to make sure it’s accurate. Then maybe try a thinner crust next time, and maybe sprinkle it with some oat fiber first?

  10. Kristin Griffieth says

    You’ve mentioned using the whole wheat version to make flatbreads. Do you have instructions for this anywhere? Thank you!

  11. Melissa Suire says

    Hi Gwen, I am doing the THM method and using all whole wheat flour. It makes a very dense and heavy crust. I’m assuming that’s normal??? Also, I want to make a bunch of pizza crusts and freeze them since you said you had luck with that. How long will they stay fresh in the freezer? Thanks for any advice!
    Melissa

    • says

      Hi Melissa!
      Yes, whole wheat breads are very dense. That’s why I prefer it as pizza crust or foccacia bread (flatbread). I par-bake the crust for 10 minutes and freeze. I’ve not frozen them long term, but you’d want to wrap them well. I’d probably make about a months worth at a time?

    • says

      Hi Etta!
      I am almost certain that there is a pizza crust recipe in the new cookbook using the Baking Blend. However, this recipe using whole wheat flour is fully on plan. Pearl and Serene personally approved it! :) The cold fermenting breaks down carbs in a similar way to a traditional sourdough.

  12. Katrina Farrar says

    Gwen I really want to make this bread but my husband the main cook and baker, asked me to find out if it would be ok to start during the winter with much colder temps? Can altitude also play a huge roll in the rise or not of the dough?

    • says

      Hi Katrina,
      This recipe is so simple…I’d suggest doing a trial run in your temp and altitude to see what results you get. :) I am in the south, and we enjoyed rare 70* temps on Christmas day this year. :) I’ve done this bread recipe year round here, even when we do get cold weather, and have always had it turn out, although I do try to find a warm spot for the initial rise, and it may take longer on cool days. I’ve not tested it at altitudes, however. :) You may have to tinker with baking times at higher altitudes.

  13. Keri says

    Hello Gwen, great recipe!! I’m so glad to have found your site…great stuff!! I made dough last night and made pizzas tonight. I used 5 cups sprouted kamut flour and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and left it out all night with a towel over it, put in frig this am. Yes it had a drier layer over this am but just mixed it in…wasn’t sure what to do?? My dough was very thick, not sticky at all, no bubbles (not even right after I made it and during the rising…those first two hours). Easy to roll…is that bad? Do the heavy flours get sticky and watery after being in frig for a few days?? So to make loaves of bread you will have to use an all purpose flour? Does whole wheat pastry work the same way? (sorry I’m not too familiar with flours) Do you have to preheat the pizza stone? I didn’t and found I needed to cook it longer. It did stick a bit to my parchment paper but a spatula worked just fine to remove it. I think it’s just cause it’s sooo dense.
    I used almond cheese, added onion, bells, mushrooms, and zucchini… and basil pesto for the sauce…yummy!!!
    Thanks for your time!!!

    • says

      Flours are tricky. I’m not too well versed in them either. Apparently, even though they all pretty much look the same, they don’t behave or taste the same. Even sprouting a grain can change the way the final flour behaves. :) And sprouted flour doesn’t need this additional step to be on plan with Trim Healthy Mama. It’s already slow glycemic.

      The initial dough should have been rather wet and sticky- this recipe is a high hydration ratio. But I’ve never used the flours you mentioned. I used to make the big pretty loaves when I used unbleached flour, but now that I’ve switched to whole wheat, it’s much more dense and doesn’t rise as well. So I’ve switched to just using it for pizza crust & flatbread. :) Pastry flour is going to give you more of a biscuit texture. It’s better for cookies, biscuits, etc. than all purpose.

      I do always preheat the oven with the stone in it. And depending on the flours/density of the loaf you’re making, it may take longer to bake.

      Your sauce sounds amazing!!!

    • says

      You can use any active form of yeast. :) The “E” energizing fuel is from the wheat, so you’re good to go! The only way it wouldn’t work is if your yeast is too old, and then you wouldn’t get a first rise from it. And in that case, you’d just mix in fresh yeast and give it another go round. :)

  14. Jill says

    Hi! My bread always turns out completely flat and dense. Could I add extra flour to make it stay together better? It just seems too watery to hold a shape.

    • says

      Hi Jill,
      The flatness and density are probably due to the fact that it’s whole grain. The little chips of the outer hull are sharp, and pop the air bubbles as they form, making it a flatter finished product. You can tinker with the water content, but I’ve found that it works best to just enjoy it as a flatbread option like the focaccia or pizza crust. :)

  15. Kathy Judson says

    I have sourdough sponge – can I used this method with just that or does it need to have the commercial yeast?

  16. Jeannette says

    Hi Gwen,
    I’ve only just recently converted to THM, and I apologize for the newbie questions. This bread looks amazing so I really want to try it. I know my family would probably love for me to use the white all-purpose flour but I thought that was completely off-plan?
    And for the pizza, it’s still an E despite the cheese? I’m still learning.

    Thanks so much!
    Jeannette

    • says

      Hi Jeanette! Yes, all white flour is off plan, so follow the recipe instructions for the THM friendly version instead. The cheese pizza recipe uses exact measurements to keep you in the E zone for fat allowances. :)

  17. Tammy Ford says

    Gwen – I looked at your sourdough recipe first and I kinda expected that your Easy Bread would use your starter, but it didn’t. Can the starter be used here in place of the packaged yeast? How much? If not, do you have a sourdough bread recipe that uses the starter? **THM Mind Wants to Know** :)

  18. Bonnie says

    I think I goofed! I used a glass gallon jar and used 3 cups white wheat flour & 3 1/2 cups bread flour. It has risen up to the lid!! It has beautiful bubbles! I guess I need a bigger container next time. I put it in the fridge after 2 hours. Will it stop rising now? Did I ruin it?