Artisan Bread Taste Without the Work!

A frequently asked question is…”How do I get that sour characteristic of artisan bread without having to use a starter, which is way too high maintenance?”

The answer is easy with our bread method, just wait. I mean mix up your dough, let it rise, use some if you need to immediately and then let the rest of the batch sit in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Don’t feed it, just wait. After the 2nd day you will notice that the flavor is more complex and is starting to take on the characteristics in artisan bread that you crave: sourdough flavor, larger air holes, nice “custard” crumb and crisp tin crust. As it ages it improves, like all of us! The way I maintain that flavor in the next batch is to leave a piece from an “old” dough in the bucket and just dump the ingredients for a fresh batch right on top.

This however should be avoided with the doughs that use egg! I find that even the brioche dough is nicer after a few days, but it has limits and can’t last more than 5 days without being frozen.

When you first start baking bread with our method it is hard to wait, it is too tempting to bake fresh bread every day, but the results of your patience will please you!

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20 thoughts to “Artisan Bread Taste Without the Work!”

  1. I just happened upon your cookbook at BAM and bought it because it looked so interesting. Having now down my research, I am delighted with my purchase. I am having my brother-in-law pick me up a peel and stone at William-Sonoma. I can’t wait to get started using your recipes. Congratulations on publishing such a wonderful book. I will let you know how the actual cooking goes. –Opelika, Alabama

  2. Hi John,

    Because our bread is so wet the amount of salt, which is usually used to denature (relax) the dough, isn’t as necessary. In other words it is in their more for flavor than function and can be reduced or eliminated to suit your taste.

    Thanks, Zoë

  3. Hi! My second loaf of bread (dough is now 5 days old) was much better…2 day old dough didn’t rise very well, so bread was heavy and dense. Is it ok to use bread flour in lieu of all purpose flour? Do you have a brand preference for yeast? Love the fact that I can make bread without kneading or using my food processor! Thank you!


  4. Hi Sarah,

    I’m so glad your second loaf was a success! I too find that the dough improves with age. If you replace the all-purpose with bread flour it will make for a much tighter dough and will not last as long nor have the same open crumb. Having said that we do actually have a recipe in the book for a traditional French Pan d’Epi (p.41) which calls for bread flour in order to keep the shape of the wheat stalk.

    The flour that I love most is King Arthur all-purpose, which has a higher protein content than most other brands and more resembles bread flour, but doesn’t make the dough quite as dry.

    As for the yeast I use, it is Red Star from Costco, because I can get it in huge quantities. Any brand will work, we haven’t found that the more expensive ones are any better in our dough!

    Thanks, Zoë

  5. I’ve ordered your book and it’s on backorder until Christmas. So far I’ve tried the recipe from what was printed in the Star Tribune. Today was the fourth loaf I’ve baked from the first batch of dough I mixed up six days ago. We ended up with big air holes baked into the loaf. What would have caused this? Any suggestions for next time. I’m finding this quite fun and have already shared a loaf with friends. Jean

  6. Hi Jean,
    Some would say that you achieved an artisan loaf. Lots of people work hard to get those large air holes in the their bread. It actually means that you did everything right! This however is just a matter of taste and if you like a crumb which is denser and has a more even texture than you can work the dough just a bit more. When you are shaping the loaf, just give it a few more turns and this will knock some of that air out of the dough. The one thing to consider when doing this is that you may want to let it rise for slightly longer before baking it so it isn’t too dense. Perhaps next time you bake a loaf you can take a picture and send it to me. [email protected]

    Thanks! Enjoy the book when it comes. Zoë

  7. I just wanted to let you know that I think your book is fabulous!! I am a very busy stay at home mom who transports kids all day to and from school and I on a normal bread recipe find it challenging due to time restraints to make bread during the week and this has ended that issue for me. Thanks so much for your wonderful contribution to the baking world.

  8. Hi Zoe, you mentioned you like to use King Arthur all-purpose flour. I read in other sources that it has 11.7g gluten per 100g flour. I live in Australia and I use a white bread premix which has 11.5% gluten, which is exactly the same as the French T65 flour favoured by many artisan bakers in France. I have had a lot of success using this bread premix flour (add only water and yeast). My questions is: will this pre-mix flour allow me to make artisan bread with big open crumb, if I used your method, judging that its gluten level is very similar to yours?

  9. Hi Shiao-Ping,

    Yes, you will have a wonderful loaf using that flour in your recipe. You will want to add a bit more water because the higher protein content will mean that the flour absorbs more water and the dough will be dry without adding more water. About 2-4 tablespoons should do it.

    Thanks, Zoë

  10. Hi Zoe,
    I just got the book and have 4 buckets of prepared dough in the frig. I modified the carmel rolls to cinnamon rolls and they were a hit. Also, love the pizza dough! I have 2 questions, my Light whole wheat bread was baked in a loaf pan and rose nicely (over the top) but fell during baking. What is the cause? Also, I’ve been trying a sourdough starter without using yeast and wondered if you have a recipe using the sourdough starter for sourdough bread (the book only has recipes for granulated yeast). Thanks!

  11. Hi Cindy,

    It sounds like maybe your dough was over proofed. Did it rest much longer than normal or is your kitchen particularly warm this time of year. Or perhaps you live in the mountains (high altitude baking does this kind of thing).

    I’m going to be out of town for a while. If you have any more questions you can ask Jeff on Just leave a question in the comment field of any post and he will get it.

    You can use a starter, but you have to allow for very long resting times to allow the natural yeasts to do their magic.

    Thank you for trying the bread.

  12. love ABin5 rustic recipe…my go to. I never wash my refrigerated dough bucket! Been experimenting with success in shaping colder dough (easier to handle), refrigerating again to rise and loading straight from the fridge to a hot oven…I got great oven spring and same results as a warm traditional rise. Plus, I had to go out after mixing, so total rise was in the fridge overnight.

  13. I just purchased your class from the Great Courses. I was excited to find that I could make bread without the kneading. I am having problems, however. After I have mixed the ingredients and refrigerated for 5 hours, the dough is very sticky even though I have lightly sprinkled the raised dough and my hands with counter flour. I can not form a ball without mixing in more flour to stop sticking to my hands and the counter top. I live in Charleston, SC where is humidity is high. Is it possible to reduce the amount of water in the recipe so that the dough is not as sticky, but still conforms to your method? If so, how much water would you recommend? Thank you.

  14. Been looking for baker field flour where can l find it or can l oder the four from them? What flour do you use to make the Asitan bread you made on your show. Have made other l have made other recipies of artisan very complicated. Your seams very easy.just bought your bread cook book. Can’t waite for it to arrive. Did not get what type of flour you used from Bakersfield.

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