Thin & Crispy Pizza Crust | Bob's Red Mill

Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust

by Cassidy Stockton in Recipes

Growing up, homemade pizza was a rare thing. We lived in a small town and ordering a pizza for delivery was pretty novel. I distinctly remember when a second pizza place opened and it became a battle between family members on which restaurant would get our Friday-night order. When we did have homemade pizza, it often came in the form of French bread pizza or a prepared crust. And it’s really no wonder- pizza takes time and time is not usually something you have extra of when you’re thinking of pizza.

Since becoming a bona fide adult who actually derives pleasure from scratch baking, finding that perfect crust recipe has been a challenge. Sure, I can order pizza, but I want to make it myself. I’ve tried ‘perfect’ recipes, whole grain recipes, no-knead recipes, overnight recipes… some better than others. But after all the work to mix, knead, and raise that perfect dough, I’ll take one bite and think it would have just been better to order delivery. I’ve read articles and asked my chef friends for tips, but short of putting in my own wood-fired oven, the solution is invariably just a good recipe (and a pizza stone).

Thin & Crispy Pizza Crust | Bob's Red Mill

Note: If you are really interested in the best crust you can make, a pizza stone is one kitchen implement that will help you take your pizza to the next level. Truly. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. If homemade pizza is a rare indulgence, don’t bother. No one needs a huge hunk of stone laying around their kitchen that they aren’t using often.

This recipe was a game-changer at my house. Easy, reliable and, most importantly, delicious. Note that I did not say ‘quick’. Homemade pizza is rarely quick. From my experience, those recipes that are quick do not yield the same texture as one that has to rise. The upside of this? Turns out, overnight pizza dough is amazing. Overnight is not required, but it’s a great way to cut down on time. Make the dough on Sunday, let it rise, then stick it in the fridge. Monday night, your dinner is as simple as spreading the dough and popping it in the oven. Dough that rests overnight will have a slight sourdough tang to it the longer it rests and it will be a bit chewier.

At my house, we like thin, crispy pizza. If you tend toward the thicker, deep dish pizzas, this is not the recipe for you. I’m grateful to have found my go-to recipe. Now I just have to figure out how to top it.

Thin & Crispy Pizza Crust | Bob's Red Mill

Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust

STEP 1 Combine the water and yeast in a large bowl. Add flour and salt and mix until a shaggy dough forms.

STEP 2 Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead until smooth, elastic and slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. If dough is too sticky, knead in more flour until smooth, one tablespoon at a time. Place dough in oiled bowl and turn to coat. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Dough can be used immediately or refrigerated for up to 3 days.

STEP 3  Heat oven to 500ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough and form each piece into a disk. Place disks on prepared baking sheets. Working from the center of each disk, gently press and stretch dough to 1/4-inch thick.

STEP 4 Top with favorite sauce and toppings.

STEP 5 Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the crust is golden-brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Makes two pizzas.

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No-Knead Artisan Bread from Bob's Red Mill. Easy

No-Knead Artisan Bread

by Cassidy Stockton in Recipes

No-knead bread isn’t exactly a new concept, but if you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. It really doesn’t get much easier to make bread and it yields a loaf that will have you wondering why you haven’t tried this sooner. Mix the dough. Let it sit overnight (or 10 hours). Rise. Bake. Eat the crusty, artisan loaf you’ve been craving. Sure, you have to plan for the 10 hours and the rise time, but I’ll take that over kneading dough any day! I can mix this in the morning, go to work and have fresh baked bread with dinner. If I’m really on top of things, I can throw some chili in the slow cooker on my way out the door and take a night off!

High Protein Artisan Bread Flour from Bob's Red Mill

We used our new Artisan Bread Flour with this recipe because it has a higher protein content than all purpose flour and that makes for a well-risen, chewy loaf. That said, if you can’t get your hands on this type of flour, regular All Purpose Flour will work just fine. If you’re gluten free, we highly recommend checking out Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. We tested it and the loaves are equally as amazing as this one.

No-Knead Artisan Bread from Bob's Red Mill. Easy


No-Knead Artisan Bread


In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast. Add water and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature for 10 hours.


Preheat oven to 450ºF. Place Dutch oven without lid into oven for 30 minutes.


While Dutch oven heats, turn dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a ball with floured hands. Cover dough loosely with plastic and let rest for 30 minutes. With floured hands, place the dough into heated Dutch oven.


Cover Dutch oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 12 minutes more.


Remove loaf from Dutch oven and cool completely before slicing.

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Gluten Free Dairy Free Oatmeal Quick Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Oatmeal Quick Bread- Gluten and Dairy Free

by Sarena Shasteen in Gluten Free, Recipes

Who says you can’t have bread just because you can’t eat gluten? Not this girl for sure. Let’s just say I make a lot of bread around here for a family that’s gluten free. The breads I make range from kind of complicated to really easy. Today, I’m sharing a really easy recipe with you. I came up with this jewel out of a need for a quick hearty bread to go with our Sunday brunch, as well as, needing something easy that my husband can throw together when he’s needing bread with dinner. This oatmeal quick bread goes really well with a salad or bowl of soup. It has an amazingly crunchy crust on the outside with a beautifully dense chewy interior highlighted by a wholesome nutty flavor from the oatmeal. For brunch, we served it with butter and a drizzle of honey. It was delicious!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Oatmeal Quick Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Gluten and Dairy Free Oatmeal Quick Bread

(makes about a 1 pound loaf)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Mix well with a fork. Next add the cold butter to the flour mixture and cut it in with a fork until thoroughly combined and the mixture resembles a course meal. Next add the milk, eggs and vinegar to the flour mixture using a fork or a rubber spatula. Stir until well combined. Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When the oven is ready, using the rubber spatula, form the dough into a ball and then dump it onto the parchment paper. Using the spatula, even out the dough ball to for a circle. Cut a cross into the dough and then sprinkle the top with the reserved oatmeal. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until slightly browned and the crust sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes then slice and serve.

Gluten Free Dairy Free Oatmeal Quick Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Sarena Shasteen: The Non Dairy QueenSarena Shasteen has been an avid health food and fitness enthusiast from an early age. She holds a degree in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of Atlanta, a certification in Fitness Nutrition and is a certified Fitness Trainer from International Sport Science Association (ISSA). Becoming a Personal Trainer and Specialist in Fitness Nutrition has been a lifelong goal of hers. Sarena enjoys helping others reach their health goals by teaching them that health and fitness are not only achieved in the gym, but also through fun everyday activities. Now a food writer, recipe developer, personal chef,  Personal Trainer and Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, she enjoys sharing with others that healthy living can be fun and delicious. Keep up with her at The Non Dairy Queen and on Facebook and Twitter.


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Hot Cross Buns (Gluten Free) | Bob's Red Mill

Hot Cross Buns {Gluten Free}

by Sarena Shasteen in Gluten Free, Recipes

Tradition…I grew up with a lot of Easter traditions, but hot cross buns was really not one of them. To be perfectly honest, when I made these hot cross buns, the only frame of reference I had was from when I was in culinary school (and that is far longer away than I would like to discuss – hence the lack of taste recollection). So, I turned to the tasting expert who grew up on these slightly sweet, yeasty buns filled with the perfect a hint of spice…my husband. Since he happened to grow up with these as a part of his Easter tradition, I knew he would be able to give me his good, honest opinion on the subject. Now that I have his stamp of approval, I am sure these will fill your need for a gluten and dairy free version of hot cross buns for this Easter season as well.

Hot Cross Buns (Gluten Free) | Bob's Red Mill

Don’t let this ingredient list scare you. These really are easy to make and if you make enough, you can enjoy them for a few days (if they stick around that long)! These little buns also soften up beautifully when heated for a few seconds in the microwave.

Hot Cross Buns (Gluten Free) | Bob's Red Mill

Gluten and Dairy Free Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12 rolls

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups White Rice Flour
  • 1 cup Potato Starch
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Corn Starch
  • 1/2 cup Hazelnut Meal
  • 2 TBSP Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 4 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cream Of Tartar

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 1/4 cup Dairy Free Butter
  • 1 cup Egg Whites
  • 3 TSBP Apple Cider Vinegar

Add Ins:

  • 1/2 cup Raisins


  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 to 3 TBSP Almond Milk

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Next add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and allow to knead for 4 minutes. Add the raisins and knead for another minute. Spray a 13 x 9 pan with nonstick spray. Using a large scoop* evenly scoop 12 buns into the pan. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with nonstick spray and place it over the rolls. Set the rolls in a warm place and allow to double in size (1 to 1 1/2 hours). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan once the buns are done rising. Using scissors, cut a cross into the top of the buns. Place the buns into the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before glazing.

Combine the powdered sugar and a tablespoon at a time of the almond milk. You want to be able to pipe it onto the buns. Place the glaze in a piping bag fitted with a large circle or slit tip. Pipe the glaze on top of the cross on the buns. Enjoy!

*Since gluten free doughs need to be slightly wetter than their gluten counter parts, I use my large cookie scoop when I need to scoop out even sized things like rolls or tortillas. It keeps things a little cleaner and insures that I can bake things evenly through.

Sarena Shasteen: The Non Dairy QueenSarena Shasteen has been an avid health food and fitness enthusiast from an early age. She holds a degree in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of Atlanta, a certification in Fitness Nutrition and is a certified Fitness Trainer from International Sport Science Association (ISSA). Becoming a Personal Trainer and Specialist in Fitness Nutrition has been a lifelong goal of hers. Sarena enjoys helping others reach their health goals by teaching them that health and fitness are not only achieved in the gym, but also through fun everyday activities. Now a food writer, recipe developer, personal chef,  Personal Trainer and Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, she enjoys sharing with others that healthy living can be fun and delicious. Keep up with her at The Non Dairy Queen and on Facebook and Twitter.

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Sweet Potato and Sage Pull Apart Rolls from Bread & Butter by Erin McKenna | Bob's Red Mill @bobsredmill |gluten free, vegan

Sweet Potato and Sage Pull-Apart Rolls (GF) {Giveaway}

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles

Bread & Butter is the third book from renowned gluten free, vegan baker Erin McKenna of Erin McKenna’s Bakery (formerly Babycakes NYC). This book is exactly what you’d expect from Erin McKenna- beautiful recipes with fun, bright photography. Bread & Butter is a full course of gluten free bread baking with a side of pastries. Basic breads like “rye” bread (say what??) and sandwich bread abound next to more unusual fare like these pull-apart rolls and spicy vegetable cornbread. There are so many awesome recipes in this book, we can’t begin to name them all.

Bread & Butter by Erin McKenna | Bob's Red Mill  @bobsredmill

We see a lot of cookbooks around here and what we like about this book is that it’s relatively small, so you’re not thumbing through 500 recipes, and it’s full of rather unique recipes. Plus, we know from personal experience that Erin’s recipes are reliable and delicious. We absolutely adore Erin’s writing style and her easy-to-follow recipes. Bonus: all of the recipes are vegan, making this ideal for anyone with both gluten and dairy restrictions.

Random House has generously offered us three copies of Bread & Butter to giveaway. We’ll pair each copy with a bag of our gluten free oat flour, cornmeal, potato starch and xanthan gum so you can get started baking right away. To enter, follow the prompts at the bottom of this post. We’ll select three winners at random from all who enter by 11:59 pm on 3/29/15. If you just can’t wait, look for this book at your favorite local bookseller.

Sweet Potato and Sage Pull Apart Rolls from Bread & Butter by Erin McKenna | Bob's Red Mill @bobsredmill |gluten free, vegan

Sweet Potato and Sage Pull-Apart Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

  • ¼ cup (33 g) cornmeal, for the baking
  • 1½ cups (339 g) warm rice milk (about 100°F)
  • 3 tablespoons (66 g) agave nectar
  • 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ¹⁄³ cup (70 g) melted unscented coconut oil
  • ½ cup (165 g) canned sweet potato puree (at room temperature)
  • 3 cups (300 g) gluten-free oat flour
  • ½ cup (96 g) potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¹⁄³ cup (9 g) sage leaves, chopped

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, dust with cornmeal, and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the warm rice milk, agave nectar, and yeast. Stir once and set aside to proof until it bubbles, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the oil and sweet potato.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir until it is the consistency of a sticky dough. Fold in the sage.

Using a ½-cup measuring cup, scoop heaping portions of batter onto the prepared baking sheet and shape into squares. Leave no more than ½ inch between each roll on the pan. Cover the baking sheet with a dish towel and let the rolls rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Bake the rolls for 10 minutes, and then rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 6 minutes. Let the rolls cool on the pan for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe from Bread & Butter (c) 2015 Erin McKenna

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Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread {Giveaway}

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests

At our house, we don’t need an extra excuse to indulge in Irish Soda Bread. As it stands, it’s all we can do to not eat the whole loaf in one day. Our Irish Soda Bread Mix was one of the first products I fell in love with when I began working at Bob’s Red Mill over ten years ago.

Traditional soda bread was made using flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk; simple ingredients available to most families during the mid-1800s. Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) was introduced to Ireland around 1840 and became popular for its reliability in leavening and affordability. According to Rory O’Connell (via Epicurious), the introduction of baking soda allowed families to bake bread without an oven, something which many families simply did not have. Soda bread could bake in a covered cast iron pot set directly on the coals of a fire. Soda was not perishable like yeast and it was very affordable for the average family. Most farms would have been making their own butter (of which buttermilk is a byproduct) and growing wheat to feed their families. Soda bread allowed them to bake bread using the simple ingredients readily available in their lives.

Irish Soda Bread | Bob's Red Mill

The Irish soda bread we see in bakeries across the United States is a far cry from the simple peasant bread of the 1850s. Raisins and other dried fruit would have been a luxury item, according to O’Connell, and added to breads during harvest as a treat for the men working in the fields. The most common soda bread was a whole meal (or brown) bread. This makes sense, white flour was simply not a common ingredient for most households and did not become readily available for consumption until the early 1900s.

There are many modern variations, but we prefer a classic loaf as epitomized in our Irish Soda Bread Mix. This bread is easy; it takes almost no time to throw together and yields a lovely loaf with little effort. The key to a nice loaf of soda bread is to handle the dough as little as possible. The more you handle the dough, the tougher the loaf will become. You can add raisins to our mix for a sweeter bread, as we did above, or leave them out. If you want a nice variation on Irish Soda Bread, we really like turning it into these biscuits.

Because we love our Irish Soda Bread Mix so much, we’d like to give away a package to five luck winners. We’ll select five winners at random from all who enter by 11:59 pm on 3/9/15. To enter, simply comment below and answer this question- raisins or no raisins? 

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Brown Sugar Banana Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Brown Sugar Banana Bread aka The Best Banana Bread EVER

by Cassidy Stockton in Recipes

Banana bread: the saving grace for thrifty bakers with rapidly browning bananas. At my house, banana bread is a means to an end for using up those pesky bananas that didn’t get eaten fast enough. This recipe, however, takes banana bread to a whole new level. This is a recipe that I would actually set out to make. I would actively age bananas to get the deepest banana flavor in this bread (and have done so).

When this recipe came out of the test kitchen, I knew I could scrap my go-to banana bread recipe and start relying on this one. It’s not as “healthy” as many banana breads claim to be (and, let’s be honest, it’s a claim and not a reality), but it’s sure delicious. This is a perfect recipe to bake and give to a friend, or you just might find you’ve eaten the whole loaf by yourself. Trust me, it’s happened.

Brown Sugar Banana Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Brown Sugar Banana Bread

Contributed by:  Sarah House for Bob’s Red Mill Test Kitchen

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time:  60 minutes

Yield: one 9-inch loaf (12 – 16 servings)


Simple Topping

  • ¼ cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, soft
  • ½ tsp Large Flake or Kosher Salt

Deluxe Topping

  • ½ cup packed Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Butter, soft
  • ½ tsp Large Flake or Kosher Salt

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9-inch loaf pan or line with parchment paper.

Step 2

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the chosen topping.  Set aside.  In another small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Step 3

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or by hand with a spoon, mix butter and Bob’s Red Mill Brown Sugar until fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Step 4

Add vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition.

Step 5

Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, followed by the banana puree.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the remaining flour mixture and mix until well combined.  Fold in the pecans.

Step 6

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Evenly sprinkle the topping over the batter.

Step 7

Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes.  Let cool 30 minutes before serving.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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Baguette F

Gluten-Free Baguette {Giveaway}

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests, Gluten Free, Recipes

I bet you’re probably beginning to think I love all cookbooks. Rest assured, that’s not the case. If I don’t think it has some merit, we’re definitely not wasting our time talking about it here. I’ve been excited about a lot of gluten free cookbooks this year because so many of them are making waves with gluten free ingredients by using techniques and ingredient combinations that are new and innovative.

GF Artisan Bread in Five

Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François is a game-changer for a few noteworthy reasons.

1. It is built on the principal of the famous no-knead bread recipe. It works well with gluten and it works superbly for gluten free bread. After all, gluten free bread does not really need to be kneaded at all. It really just needs to be mixed. Kneading activates gluten. When you don’t have gluten, you don’t need to knead. (Yep, ridiculously pleased with myself for that little gem.)

2. The book features two basic flour blends– all purpose and whole grain- and uses them for everything under the sun- from crusty baguettes to gooey monkey bread to ciabatta to chocolate ganache filled brioche. All that from one flour blend!

3. The trickiest ingredient is ground pysllium husk and that is becoming increasingly easy to find and it’s optional!

4. This is a mix it and leave it method. You mix up your ingredients (no kneading!), let it rise and stick it in the fridge. On baking day, you take out a chunk, form a loaf and let it rise for an hour. Then, you bake. You have to admit, it’s much faster than traditional bread baking.

On top of this, I’ve been using one of their previous books, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, for years and it works. It’s reliable and always turns out wonderful breads. As due diligence to write this review (and an excuse to enjoy fresh baked bread), I had the test kitchen bake up a loaf of the classic boule. It was the best gluten free bread I have ever tried and I’ve tried a lot of less-than-stellar gluten free bread. I don’t need to be gluten free, but I figured I should taste this bread if I was going to try to sell you on the book. The loaf was crusty, had a lovely crumb and, above all, had a wonderfully wheat-like flavor.

Our friends Jeff and Zoë, and the folks at St Martin’s Press, have generously offered a copy of this book for three lucky winners. We will pair it with the winner’s choice of the ingredients to make the all purpose flour blend or the whole grain flour blend. To enter, simply comment on this post and tell us what type of artisan bread you miss the most since going gluten free. We’ll select three winner at random from all who enter by 11:59 pm on 11/24/14. If you can’t wait or want to give this as a gift (this would be an awesome gift for a gluten free loved one) you can buy it here: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, iBooks and Walmart. I’d bet that your favorite local book seller will also have a copy.

Gluten Free Baguette from Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day | Bob's Red Mill

Gluten-Free Baguette

Recipe adapted from Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and used with permission
©2014, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François

Makes eight ½-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

This beautiful and crispy loaf is the symbol of France. Our gluten-free version is just as gorgeous and delicious.  We brush the top of the loaf with egg white wash to create a glossy crust, but in a pinch, water will do.


  • 6½ cups of Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour (see
  • 1 tablespoon Granulated Yeast
  • 1-1½ tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar or Honey
  • 3¾ cups lukewarm Water (100°F or below)
  • Cornmeal or parchment paper, for the pizza peel
  • Egg White Wash (1 Egg White plus 1 tablespoon Water), for top of loaf
  1. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and sweetener in a 5- to 6-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
  2. Add the water and mix with a spoon or a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle.
  3.  Cover (not airtight), and rest at room temperature until the dough rises, about 2 hours.
  4. The dough can be used immediately after rising, though it’s easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 10 days. Or freeze for up to 4 weeks in 1-pound portions and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before use.
  5. On baking day: Dust the surface of the dough with rice flour, pull off a ½ -pound (orange-size) piece, and place it on a pizza peel prepared with cornmeal (use plenty) or parchment paper. Gently press and pat it into a log-shape with tapered ends, using wet fingers to smooth the surface. Allow to rest for about 40 minutes, loosely covered with plastic wrap or a roomy overturned bowl. During this time, the dough may not seem to rise much, which is normal.
  6. Preheat a baking stone near the middle of the oven to 450°F (20 to 30 minutes), with an empty metal broiler tray on any shelf that won’t interfere with rising bread.
  7. Brush the top with egg white wash, and then slash, about ½-inch deep, with a wet serrated bread knife.
  8. Slide the loaf onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until richly browned and firm.
  9. Allow to cool completely on a rack before eating.

The authors answer questions at, where you’ll also find recipes, photos, videos and instructional material.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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Ciabatta Bread F

Baker’s Dozen: Essential Tips and Tricks for Baking Success

by Stephanie Wise in Featured Articles

In my five years of baking and blogging about bread, I’ve acquired a few bits of knowledge on the subject along the way. This doesn’t mean I don’t have oh-so-much more to learn – believe me, I do, as I am often reminded by a recipe fail – but thanks to these handy tips and tricks, I’m much better off than I used to be (sayonara, loaves of bricks!).

Because I want everyone in the whole world to know how to bake a good loaf of bread because there are few better things to bake and eat from scratch, in my opinion, I’m going to share some of those tips and tricks with you – a “baker’s dozen” of handy knowledge, if you will – along with a few delicious recipes from me and other Bob’s Red Mill bloggers that can help you get started!

  1. Know the difference between active dry and instant yeast. Instant yeast can be directly added to the dry ingredients in your recipe, while active dry yeast most often needs to be activated before it can be added to the remaining ingredients. To activate active dry yeast, dissolve the yeast in a bowl of warm water (sometimes with some sugar or honey, too) and let it sit until foamy. The amounts of these ingredients should be indicated in the recipe, for example, in this recipe for Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread with Caramelized Onions from The Roasted Root. Some people like using instant yeast because you can skip a step, but I prefer to use active dry yeast in most of my recipes so I know the yeast is fresh.
  2. Some flours cannot be substituted for another. Sometimes, yes, they can, but when you come across a situation when they can’t, you’ll know it. For instance, in my recipe for Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread, it’s best to use the ratio of all-purpose flour to whole wheat flour called for so you don’t end up with the aforementioned “brick loaf.” Whole wheat flour needs more water to absorb to yield the same result as all-purpose flour with less water, but even with some tweaking of the recipe, it doesn’t always work. That being said, I will sometimes substitute up to 75 percent of the all-purpose flour called for in a recipe with whole wheat flour, but no more. The same goes for bread vs. all-purpose flour – bread flour has a higher gluten content, so when a recipe calls for it, it’s probably because it will give the bread the extra shape and sturdiness it needs. In those cases, I often suggest just sticking with whatever the recipe calls for.

  3. Check the expiration dates. This is a big one, because I think many of our recipe failures can be attributed to it. So be sure you have the freshest ingredients on hand: Baking soda, baking powder, yeast, nuts and even whole wheat flour can all lose their oomph over time. I like to keep my flours in the fridge to extend their shelf lives, and on my jar of yeast (which I also refrigerate) I’ll write the date six months from when I’ve opened it, which is when it tends to lose its freshness.
  4. How to make your own ingredients. You’ve got the oven pre-heating. You’ve got the mixing bowls set out. And then you realize you’re missing a key ingredient. Raise your hand if you’ve been there! Yeah, me too. That’s when knowing how to make your own ingredients comes in handy. Here are a few examples:
  • Buttermilk: Combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice to a scant cup of milk for every cup of buttermilk you need for the recipe. Let it sit for five minutes.
  • Cake Flour: Remove 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour for every cup you need for the recipe and replace it with cornstarch. Sift the ingredients together about four or five times.
  • Bread Flour: Remove 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour for every cup you need for the recipe and replace it with gluten additive. Stir it in.
  • Homemade Butter: Savory Simple has a fantastic tutorial on how to make your own!
  1. How to halve ingredients in a recipe. There are times when a recipe makes a double batch, or I just don’t need all of those muffins or pancakes, so I’ll halve the recipe. That’s when this nifty guide comes in handy.
  2. Keep fruit from sinking to the bottom of baked goods. Easy-peasy: Give the berries or pieces of fruit a good toss in one or two tablespoons of the flour called for in the recipe, then add them to the batter. This isn’t necessary for yeast breads, as the dough is sturdy enough to hold up the fruit. Here’s a great recipe for Blueberry Oatmeal Bread from The Lemon Bowl to give it a try on.

  3. Less is more. If there is nothing else you take from this list, let this be the one mantra you keep with you for baking. It never fails me, especially when it comes to working with dough. The less you play with the dough after it’s fully kneaded, the better. The less flour you add to it to make it a smooth, soft, pliable, elastic, tacky (but not sticky) dough, the better. The less flour you sprinkle on a surface to knead or shape the dough, the better.
  4. Know when bread is fully kneaded. Solution: The windowpane test. Once you’ve kneaded your dough, remove a small piece of it and stretch it out between your fingers to a thin membrane. If the dough breaks, it needs a little more kneading. If it stays thin and translucent, it’s ready.
  5. Make dough rise really well. If it’s the cooler seasons (meaning, it’s sub-70 degrees in your kitchen), I’ve found this trick works well to helping dough proof better: Wrap a heating pad in a thin towel, turn it on low heat and set it on a counter. Place the dough, in a covered bowl or loaf pan, on top of the wrapped heating pad. The little bit of added heat from the pad will help the dough along. Don’t have a heating pad? Place the bowl or loaf pan in the microwave or oven, turned off.
  6. How to test when a dough is doubled. I’m a big fan of eyeballing it, but for extra accuracy, place a strip of tape on the side of the bowl to gauge when the dough is doubled, or, lightly press two fingers into the top of the risen dough. If the indentations remain, the dough has doubled.

  7. How to tell when a loaf is fully baked. Take the loaf out of the oven and give it a tap on the bottom with your fingernails. If it makes a good “thwacking” sound, like it’s almost hollow, it’s probably done. But to be extra sure, insert an instant-read thermometer in the bottom center. For regular yeast breads, 210°F to 220°F is ideal; if it’s an egg or milk-based yeast bread – like this recipe for Apple Honey Challah from The Law Student’s Wife – or has a few extra ingredients in it (like nuts or veggies), aim for 200°F to 210°F. This does not apply to quick breads.
  8. How to store yeast breads. Crusty loaves store well in a paper bag and soft, milk or egg-based enriched breads store well in an airtight container or plastic wrap. Both can be stored at room temperature for a day or two before they get stale, but I like to refrigerate my breads to extend their lives (this is a huge no-no to some because it can alter the flavor of the bread, but I’d rather keep my bread around for longer). If you want to freeze bread, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then foil.
  9. Have great baking resources at the ready. Bob’s Red Mill has oodles of resources, products and articles that will help you along on your baking journey!

StephanieStephanie is the baker/blogger/babbler behind the blog, Girl Versus Dough, where she writes about her adventures in bread baking and other tasty, unique recipes. Her approach is friendly yet inspiring, down-to-earth yet adventurous. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, Elliott, her furry child-cat, Percy and a beautiful baby girl, Avery. Keep up with her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Stephanie Wise Google: Stephanie Wise
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What is it Wednesday | Bob's Red Mill

What is it? Wednesday: Artisan Bread Flour

by Cassidy Stockton in What is it? Wednesday

What is bread flour? Our Artisan Bread Flour is milled from high-protein US-grown red wheat and mixed with just the right amount of malted barley flour, which helps breads rise. The high protein content is great for gluten development, which is especially desirable for chewy baguettes, pizza crusts, dinner rolls, sandwich loaves, pretzels, bagels and more.

How much protein does Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour contain? Our bread flour averages 12-14% protein.

Why does protein (gluten) matter? The protein in wheat flour (aka gluten) gives baked goods structure and elasticity. For chewy breads and pizza crusts, you want to use a higher protein flour.

Gluten is sticky and stretchy (think of a balloon). When leavening reacts and produces gasses in your baked good, gluten creates pockets that expand around these gasses, causing your baked good to rise. More gluten and high-power leavening (yeast) will make beautiful artisan breads with lovely air pockets. Less gluten and tamer leavening (baking soda, baking powder), make smaller bubbles and smaller air pockets. When you’re striving to create a rustic artisan loaf of bread, you want big air pockets, making bread flour an ideal choice.

What is it? Wednesday: Artisan Bread Flour | Bob's Red Mill

How is it different from all purpose flour? Bread flour simply contains a higher amount of protein than all purpose flour. All purpose flour is designed to make fine cakes and chewy breads. Bread flour is made with bread baking specifically in mind. Using it will yield crusty loaves of bread and chewy pizza crusts.

Why would you use this instead of all purpose flour? Because you can. When you want to make the most perfect, rustic loaves of bread, the real question is why wouldn’t you want to use special ingredients? After all, fresh baked bread is just another way of saying “I love you.” In all seriousness, though, bread flour produces a chewier texture, better rise and crisper crust than all purpose flour.

Is bread flour gluten free? No. Bread flour is made from wheat and has a higher proportion of gluten than many other wheat flours, so it is definitely not suitable for a gluten free diet.

Is Bob’s Red Mill bread flour organic? No.

Is Bob’s Red Mill bread flour enriched? Yes, we enrich our bread flour to government standards. This includes adding malted barley flour (to improve the rise), niacin, iron, thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid.

Is Bob’s Red Mill bread flour whole grain? Nope. If you want a whole grain bread flour, we recommend our traditional Whole Wheat Flour or our Ivory Wheat Flour. Both are high in protein and made with 100% whole grain wheat.

Is there a substitute for bread flour? No, but you can replicate bread flour by using an all purpose flour and adding extra gluten to increase the protein content. We recommend an extra tablespoon of gluten per cup of flour.

Some of our favorite recipes using bread flour: 

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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