Artisan Bread on NPR’s “The Splendid Table”

epiYesterday Jeff and I were interviewed by Lynne Rosetto Kasper on National Public Radio’s “The Splendid Table.”
If you were unable to catch it Click here to listen to the show… we’re about 13 minutes into the broadcast.

Listen to that bread crackle!!! Yum.

*gorgeous picture by Mark Luinenburg from the book.

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52 thoughts to “Artisan Bread on NPR’s “The Splendid Table””

  1. Hello.
    I Heard your interview on NPR. I have a question about the basic recipe? If I cut all the ingredients exactly in half will I get a viable half recipe?

  2. Hi Narci,

    You absolutely can cut the amount in half and make a smaller batch. Try that and once you start baking every day you may find you want more dough. If you make enough to let some of it sit for up to 2 weeks you will notice the flavor gets more complex and and crumb is really nice.
    Thanks for trying it! Zoë

  3. I purchased the book…tried 3 recipes…very tasty, but too salty. I used Kosher salt. Can I decrease the salt? thanks, colleen

  4. Hi Colleen,

    The main purpose of the salt is to enhance the flavor of the bread. So by all means reduce it so that it is to your liking!

    It also acts to relax the dough (denature) but we have made loaves with no salt at all and they still came out just fine, although a bit flat tasting.

    Thanks for trying the bread! Zoë

  5. Hi Zoe,

    I heard you on the Splendid Table and decided to give your bread a try. So I made a batch of your basic bread 13 days ago. The first two loaves were delicious, though slightly misshapen. I am just finding my way through bread baking so wasn’t sure what went wrong. And for the last loaf I took the dough out of the fridge today and it smells strongly of alcohol and is very wet on the bottom and dry on top. I tried flouring the dough, but was hesitant to add too much so as not to have a tough dough. I am letting the dough rest and then will bake it. Can you tell me what has happened? Is this normal? I would appreciate any help as we did enjoy the bread and it is a great way to have fresh bread every few days without much work.

    Thanks for your help.

  6. Hi Mary,

    Try to describe the shape of your loaves to me and we can make them more to your liking. Is it happening when you first cloak and shape the loaf? or is it happening because they are sticking to the peel as they go into the oven? More corn meal under the resting loaf will take care of that. One last possibility is that you may not be slashing them deeply enough. Are you getting odd shapes coming out of the top of the bread in the oven. Tell me more and we will fix it!

    The yeast gets quite strong and does have an alcohol smell to it as it ages. Usually what I do is leave this last bit right in the bucket and start a new batch on top of it. That last batch is appealing to many but a bit too strong in sour flavor for my liking. Once it is mixed into the new batch it is mellower and adds flavor and character to the fresh batch.

    Thank you so much for trying the bread and telling me about your experience. I look forward to hearing back from you! Zoë

  7. Hi Zoe,

    Thanks for the hints about the fermenting smell. I went ahead and backed the bread and it tasted fine if a bit salty. The shape wasn’t great because I had a lot of trouble getting it off the peel because it was so sticky.

    However, that wasn’t my experience with the first two loaves. They came off the peel OK, but were misshapen out of the top of the loaf. I tried slashing more deeply, but still had this odd shape out the top. Maybe I’m still not slashing deeply enough. Is there a trick to slashing?

    Thanks for the help.

  8. Hi Mary,

    There are two things that can cause this crazy vertical oven spring. It may need to rest longer. If the loaf is any more than 1# (1/4 batch) than I’d let it rise an extra 10-15 minutes. This is also true if it is rising in a particularly cool room.

    The only tricks to slashing are to use a thin serrated knife and be sure to coat the top of the loaf with flour so the knife doesn’t stick. If you don’t get it deep enough the first pass, feel free to go over it again until you do. I think 1/4″ is about right for most loaves.

    The older the dough the stickier it can be so go ahead and use more flour on your hands and to dust the top when shaping. You will also want to load up the peel with more corn meal to prevent it from sticking. I also nudge the dough slightly before putting it in the oven to make sure it isn’t stuck anywhere. If so, then dust more flour or cornmeal under it.

    I hope this helps. Let me know! Zoë

  9. Hi Zoe,

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I absolutely love your recipe and have just finished putting together the second batch (the first one didn’t last very long!)
    To answer your question about the broetchen – literally translated it means “little breads”. They are nothing more than a crusty roll about the size of one’s fist. They can be plain, sesame, poppy and are usually slashed in a variety of traditional ways. They make great sandwiches – just the right size for lunch. We used to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favorites were filled with pickled herring and onions. I know, sounds yucky, but they really were good. I’m off tomorrow to buy your book and a pizza stone!

  10. Hi Giddy,

    I love pickled herring! They sound delicious.

    Have fun with the book and let me know of your experience.

    Best, Zoë

  11. I listened to your segment on Splendid Table. I have bought the book. The fist two loaves I made were devoured by my two sons. They ased for a third loave for dessert. I have been baking the basic bread every day for a week (so far) and taking them to work to give to co-workers. My co-workers ar loving my new hobby.

  12. Hi Jill,

    Thanks for sharing your story. It is true, you will no doubt be bringing bread to every party you are invited to!

    Thanks, Zoë

  13. Zoe,
    do I understand correctly that using 3/4 teaspoon of yeast, the dough, coming out of the refrigerator, only needs to rise 1 hour before baking? Would it also be 1 hour if I decide to bake right after the initial 2-5 rise?

  14. Hi Jerry,

    I think you are referring to our low yeast blog
    where we talk about cutting down the amount of yeast in our bread. If so, do you mean to cut it to 3/4 tablespoons and not teaspoons? If you cut it to 3/4 tablespoons then you have an initial rest time of 4-5 hours after mixing and then an hour rest for a 1 pound loaf right before it goes in the oven.

    If you are baking the bread before the dough has been refrigerated then the rest time could be cut down to about 40 minutes.

    Please let me know if this answers your question!

    Thank you! Zoë

  15. Zoe,

    whether I elect to refrigerate or not, the final rising time before baking is the same? Is it correct? Since the dough rises very little during the final rise, what is the main purpose for allowing the dough to rise?
    Thank you

  16. Hi Jerry,

    Sorry if that wasn’t clear. This is how it breaks down:

    non-refrigerated dough rests for 40 minutes on the peel.

    refrigerated dough rests for 1 hour on the peel.

    These times are for dough that is using less yeast. If you are following the recipe in the book, then just stick to those instructions.

    Does that help?

    You need to allow the dough to warm up somewhat before baking or your dough will be too dense and you will also have uneven oven spring.

    Thanks, Zoë

  17. Zoe,
    I would like you to know that I am so pleased with the results of the Five Minutes a Day recipe, that I have purchased the book. Are you considering having a dedicated site to include all the errata for the book? As it is now, modications/ additions to the original recipes of the book, are scattered through different sites.

  18. Zoe,
    I am having a problem with the bread tasting salty. The master recipe of 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt for 6 1/2 cups of flour, amounts to 3.75%. My understanding is that salt should be about 2% of flour by weight.

  19. Hi Jerry,

    What kind of salt are you using? We tested the recipe with Morton’s. By all means play with the amount to suit your palate. I’ve had comments that it is too salty and those that say it isn’t salty enough? We find that changing the amount of salt doesn’t do much to the dough but change the flavor. So test it out with 2% and see if that tastes better to you.


  20. Zoe,
    how do you determine when the dough, during the second rise, is ready to be baked? I refrigerate the dough,and use 1/2 Tablespoon of yeast.I am looking for the maximum rise, and the largest air holes. Currently I let the dough rise 2 hours before baking (room temp. ~69*). However as
    conditions vary, I do not know what to look for in determing when to bake.

  21. Hi Jerry,

    I’ve just found a new way to let the dough rise for a long and slow period. I for m the loaf on a sheet of parchment and then let it rise in the refrigerator over night. This gives it a really long rise and develops incredible holes.

    The next morning I preheat the oven to 450 with the baking stone on the middle rack, slash the cold dough, put it in the preheated oven with the steam and bake it. The crust is wonderful and the crumb is amazing.

    You could do this same thing by forming in the morning and keeping it in the refrigerator until the evening.

    Give this a try and see what you think!

    Thanks, Zoë

  22. Zoe,

    you and Jeff have an excellent book, and are doing a great job. Since I started baking, following your recipe, I have received nothing but compliments and orders, from friends and family, for bread.
    You have made bread baking an
    exciting experience. I am eager to try your latest “discovery”.

  23. Hi Zoe, I was excited to try the simple recipe that I read in a newspaper article. I left 1# out overnight in our (turned off) breadwarmer (where the mice can’t get it) and baked it w/o giving it any rise time on the peel. The loaf didn’t rise much in the oven and was dense, but flavorful and the kids liked it so overall a great success for the first try. I’m wondering how I might adapt some of the recipes in a couple of old bread books (that I haven’t used in years). Any tips – other than “trial and error” – on how to vary the proportions?
    Thanks for sharing,

  24. Hi Mike,

    I’m so glad you tried the bread recipe and are excited about it.

    If you left the dough out at room temperature overnight it may have overproofed and therefore wouldn’t have any oven spring left in it. Next time try forming the loaf and setting it to rise in your refrigerator on a piece of parchment, where it will rise so slowly that you will still have nice spring in the oven.

    The next morning preheat your oven, slash the loaf as normal and put it in the hot oven with steam. The dough should rise nicely, have a great crumb and crust!

    As for the recipes you want to adapt I’d have to see them to know exactly what it would take.

    Thanks, Zoë

  25. Hi, Zoe, I think it’s so cool that you are answering everyone’s questions personally -and promptly! I have two questions. I cut off four smaller pieces of the risen dough to bake at the same time. The first piece that I cut off formed nicely, but the remaining dough immediately deflated and the next three pieces were stickier and baked up flat. Will the dough always deflate after the first piece is cut off? Also, I forgot to put a pan of water in the oven, but the bread seemed fine? Thanks!

  26. I love your book. My bread baking adventure started with challah many years ago. I was happy to find a challah in your book, but over the years I have come to prefer an eggless challah. How would I adapt your challah recipe to omit the eggs?

    As an aside, my daughter and her boyfriend both did baking and pastry at the CIA.

  27. Hi Jodie,

    Yes, if the dough is handled it will lose some of the gas that has been built up in it. Even cutting out of the bucket will cause this to happen. The yeast and dough are still fine but they may need more rising time to recover.

    Especially as you get used to handling this dough you may want to increase the amount of time you allow the dough to rise on the peel before baking.

    The water in the pan is there to create a shiny crisp crust. It isn’t necessary but if you try it next time you’ll see how nicely it works.

    Thanks for trying the bread. Let me know if this helps! If you still have questions let me know!


  28. Hi Linda,

    I might start with replacing the egg with more liquid:

    2 1/2 cups water
    1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
    1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
    1/2 cup honey
    1/2 cup melted butter or oil
    7 cups all-purpose flour

    Try that and see if it is more to your liking!

    Are your daughter and her boyfriend working in the industry now? The CIA is a wonderful program!!!

    Thanks! Zoë

  29. My daughter is working in Ithaca for a company that does food research and product development. Her boyfriend is at Cornell and will graduate in June. They don’t know where and what they will do next.

    Thank you for your suggestion about adding more water in place of the eggs. I have one other question: how could I substitute for the honey?

  30. Hi Linda,

    Do you want to use sugar or another sweetener? The dry vs liquid will make a difference.

    Sounds like an interesting company your daughter works for.


  31. Hi Zoe. I really appreciate your help. I would prefer to use sugar as honey seems to make bread darken too much.
    Thank you again.

  32. Hi Linda,

    Actually, now that I look at it again I think I should have only increased the amount of water to 2 1/4 cups and (not 2 1/2 cups).

    So for the sugar instead of honey, try this:

    2 1/3 cups water
    1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
    1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup melted butter or oil
    7 cups all-purpose flour

    Honey is generally a more intense sweetener, so if you find that this dough isn’t as sweet as you’d like add a couple more tablespoons.

    You may also try the “soft American-style white bread” (p.204) or the “buttermilk bread” (p. 207) as alternatives.

    Let me know how that goes. If the dough seems too wet or too dry let me know and we will tweak it!

    Thanks, Zoë

  33. Hi Zoe. Sorry to be a pest.
    The first time I made your boule, I didn’t have a baking stone, so I put a flat cookie sheet in the oven. I let the bread rise on the counter on a second cookie sheet lined with parchment sprinkled with corn meal. I just transferred the parchment directly to the hot sheet and poured the water into the broiler pan and the bread was awesome. I have a baking stone now and was wondering if I could do the same thing with the parchment paper or if it would be better to put the dough directly on the peel.

    I also have one more question about the challah. Should that also be cooked on the stone or the traditional way since it doesn’t need to have a crisp crust?

    Thanks again for all your help.
    Thanks again for all your help.

  34. Hi Linda,

    Yes, you can put the dough on the parchment and then slide the whole thing right onto the stone. It works like a charm!

    You don’t have to bake the challah on a stone, but it works as well. I’ve done it both on a baking sheet or directly on the stone.

    Let me know how that challah looks to you when you mix it up.

    Thanks! Zoë

  35. Zoe,

    following your previous response to one of my comments, I have allowed the dough to rest, during the second rise, in two ways:
    1. shape the dough and place it, right after, in the refrigerator overnight before baking
    2. shape the dough;allow the same to rest at room temperature for 2 hours ( I use 1/2 Tbsp. of yeast); then refrigerate for about 7-8 hours; then bake. So far, it appears that the second approach seems to give better results. Either way, the bread, by far, exceeds my expectations, thanks to your innovations and your strong desire for the perfect loaf.
    How did you refrigerate yours?
    I sincerely thank you ( and Jeff) for allowing us to enjoy breadmaking at home.

  36. I made the rye bread recipe yesterday It was sensational. We have been searching for the rye bread of our childhood for many years. When we lived in Geneva, Switzerland we used to go to Paris and bring rye breads back. Here in Texas the only hope of find mediocre rye bread is in Houston, but it isn’t worth the trip. The bread I made yesterday was exactly as we both remembered.

  37. Hi Jerry,

    This second technique is very interesting. I bet it gives you the extra rise you want, since you are using less yeast! Hmm? Interesting indeed!

    Thanks for letting me know, I’ll have to try it.


  38. Hi Linda,

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the rye bread. Both Jeff and I have wonderful memories of that bread from our childhoods, and it was so important to do those memories justice. I’m glad you agree that we did!

    Thanks, Zoë

  39. Hi Lee,

    I’m so glad you are enjoying the book. I’ve never baked on a pizza screen, but other readers have and said it works well.

    Please let me know how it comes out!

    Thanks, Zoë

  40. Zoe,

    I have been baking bread, with good success, using the technique shown in your book (which I own)Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. However I am still chasing making bread with large holes. Briefly:
    1.I use your recipe (occasionally I may add an exta 1/4 cup of water)
    2.Let the dough rise until there are large bubbles and crevices at the surface of the dough
    3.Form the dough into batards
    4. Place formed bread into refrigerator for 8-10 hours
    5. Remove bread from refrigerator, slash, and bake at 450* for 30 minutes.
    What can I do to get large holes into the bread?

  41. Hi Jerry,

    When you are baking your batards are you using all of the dough after the initial rise? We’ve found that the flavor and the crumb is much improved after allowing the dough to rest for even 24 hours before shaping and baking.

    Here is a link to our discussion on dense crumb in the bread. me know if any of that is helpful. If not,, we’ll keep trying!

    Thanks, Zoë

  42. Hi Zoe. My daughter has your lovely book. She made a loaf or two while I was staying with her but we found it wouldn’t rise sufficiently in the 40-1hr suggested and didn’t rise anymore once in the oven. This meant a very dense loaf-albeit lovely flavour & crust.
    Got home & tried it myself-baking fisrt loaf after the resting in frig-same result. Last loaf of batch I left all day to rise and it was lighter but not as light as I would like. Any suggestions as to why it would take so long to rise? I understand our metric cup is not the same as the American (ours is 250 mls)Could it be dough not wet enough?

  43. Hi Dallas,

    It could be that the flour you have is very different from what we have tested it with. Where is it that you live?

    What kind of flour are you using?

    Thank you so much for trying the bread and for writing. We will figure out what is going on!

    Cheers, Zoë

  44. I made your challah recipe from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day last night. This morning I baked two beautiful loaves. they must have tripled or quadrupled in size during rising. This leads me to a question – While in Los Angeles a week or so ago, we had a pretzel challah. It was really delicious. I was wondering if your recipe could be adapted to produce such a challah. In reading I have learned that a baking soda bath was necessary. I considered just brushing on the baking soda mixture. or my daughter suggested dipping the strands in the baking soda mixture before braiding. Have you ever had a pretzel challah and would the dough ingredients need to be changed? What do you think about the baking soda wash?
    Thanks so much.

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