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Bread Tips & Tricks

Bread Tips & Tricks


Emile Henry,

the homemade bread specialist

The secret to making crispy bread is how it is baked: at high humidity levels, carefully adjusted according to the volume of dough being baked. Emile Henry bread bakers recreate the conditions found in a traditional bread oven, at just the right level of humidity. They ensure your homemade bread comes out baked to perfection, light and airy inside, with a golden, crispy crust.


You don't have to be an expert:


Emile Henry bread bakers are accessible to everyone.

They come with recipe

ideas and tips!


3 basic steps to make your homemade bread a success every time:

1- Prepare your dough either by hand, in a mixer, food processor or bread maker, following the recipes in this booklet or using your own recipes or a bread mix.

2- Let your dough rise at room temperature, away from drafts, for the times indicated. Before the last rise, place the dough in the baker, shaped the way you want it.

3- To bake, place the baker in the oven with its lid on, at the temperature indicated in the recipe. Bake for the time indicated in the recipe. You can remove the lid a few minutes before the end of the baking process to finish browning your bread.

When it comes to baking bread, nothing beats ceramic. The unique material used in our bread bakers has the same refractory properties as that used in traditional bread ovens. The ceramic allows humidity levels to be adjusted during baking, which is a requirement if the bread is to come out crispy, yet light and airy on the inside. The glazed exterior makes our bakers easy to keep clean.
For more products and use and care instructions, please visit



To make flavorful bread and crusty loaves start by selecting your ingredients.


Whether unbleached, stone ground or gluten-free, flour is the most important ingredient for making bread. Wheat flour contains protein. When moistened, the protein turns into gluten, the elastic substance that gives bread its distinctive chewiness and fluffy texture. Different types of flour will change the taste and appearance of your bread. Whole grain flours such as whole wheat and rye do not rise as much as white flour. Bread dough made with more than half whole grains may rise less.


Yeast is a living organism that feeds on flour in bread dough. As the mixture sits, it ferments, and the yeast expels carbon dioxide gas. The gas gets trapped in the dough’s elastic network and it magically rises. You can use active dry and instant yeast to make bread dough. Both are easy to use and can be added directly to the flour. Or you can dilute the yeast in warm water before using. Fresh baker’s yeast, which is available in some markets or from a local baker, must be moistened in water before using.

Many bakers replace prepared yeast with sourdough starter or a natural leaven, but it’s a much more delicate process that you can learn about on pages 8-9.


Water moistens the ingredients and helps warm the yeast. Yeast is more active in wetter dough, which is sticky and hard to handle. Different types of flour absorb more (or less) water than others. Dough made using all- purpose flour will use less water than dough made using bread flour. Be aware that you may need more (or less) water than a recipe calls for depending on the type of flour you are using.

Eggs, Fats and Sweeteners

Eggs, butter, olive oil, sugar, honey and other sweeteners tenderize and flavor bread dough. Sweeteners help the yeast to ferment. Bread dough made with lots of eggs, fats and sweeteners will rise more than dough


To make the best dough, follow these steps.


Follow the recipe and measure your ingredients with care. Measure flour by gently spooning it into a measuring cup then sweeping off the excess with a table knife or weigh the ingredients using a scale.

If you add too much yeast, your bread will have an unpleasant taste. If you don’t add enough water, the bread will be dry and crumbly. But if you add too much water, your dough may be sticky, heavy, and hard to handle. It might then cause the platter to stick to the lid making it difficult to open the bread baker. Add the water a little at a time until you have a dough that is elastic and keeps its shape without sticking to your fingers. And follow the tips in each recipe to achieve the best results.


Kneading activates the protein in the flour. This gives your bread dough a light crumb and chewy texture. You can mix bread dough by hand, in a stand mixer, a food processor or a bread machine. Each method achieves similar results. What is important is to end up with dough that is silky and smooth. You can also use a no-knead mixing method to make a shaggy dough that becomes smooth after a long rise.


Place the dough in a bowl or container and cover it with a clean linen towel, plastic wrap or its lid. Let the dough rise at room temperature, protected from any drafts, for the time indicated in the recipe. Pay attention to the temperature. If your kitchen is too cold, the yeast will go to sleep and not ferment, and if too warm, the yeast will react too quickly, and the dough will rise too much. Adjust the rising time accordingly. When you are learning to bake yeast bread, the times indicated in the recipes are good gauges for you to follow. Follow the cues provided in the recipe too.


Before the last rise, shape the dough and place it in your bread baker. Spice seasoning blends and flavored salts such as those from Gustus Vitae are great to place on top of your dough as it rises. Just before baking, make rapid, smooth incisions on the dough’s surface using a sharp knife or baker’s lame. These incisions create weaknesses in the crust that allow it to rise. If you don’t score the surface, the crust may be misshapen.

When ready to bake, place the bread baker into the oven, then bake according to the time and temperature indicated in the recipe.


Your bread baker works just like a baker’s oven. The lids trap moisture that evaporates from the bread dough. The moisture turns to steam, which keeps the dough moist during baking. The unglazed interior of the lid allows moisture to evaporate entirely by the end of the baking process, drying out the bread just enough to get a light, airy bread with a crispy, golden crust.

When using your Emile Henry bread baker, pay attention to a few things.

Amount of Dough

Each bread baker holds a certain amount of dough. Use recipes with the amount of flour recommended for your bread baker. (See the Emile Henry Bread Baker Capacity Chart on page 34.)

The recipes in our booklet were tested for use in our bread bakers. Once you have used your bread baker a few times, you’ll get a feel for how much dough it holds. With experience, you may find that your bread baker holds a little more (or less) of a particular dough recipe than another.

Preparing Your Bread Baker

We recommend that you brush the bottom section of your bread baker with oil or nonstick cooking spray then dust it with flour before using. Use wheat flour, rice flour or fine semolina to coat your bread baker. Know that moister dough will need more flour when dusting your bread baker. Some wet doughs like most no-knead recipes need a heavy sprinkling of flour. You may also place your formed dough onto a sheet of parchment paper before it rises the second time. Use the paper like a sling to transfer your formed dough into the bread baker. The paper will help keep the bread from sticking. This works well for larger loaves baked in the Artisan Bread Baker, bread pot, Italian Loaf Baker or the Bread Cloche.

Baking Temperature

Use the oven temperatures listed with the recipes in this booklet. Because all ovens behave differently, you may want to test the temperature the first few times you use your bread baker. Set your timer for 10 minutes less than the time indicated in the recipe. Check the bread by carefully removing the lid and adjust the remaining baking time as needed.

Working Safely

Your bread baker and lid are hot. Use heavy oven mitts or potholders.


Remember to remove the lid carefully. Stand back so that steam can escape away from your face. Make sure to have a trivet or safe place for the lid and base when they come out of the oven.


Adapting Your Recipe to Use in Your Bread Baker

Follow the tips in this booklet. Select recipes with the recommended amount of flour. Or make your favorite dough. Then remove some of the dough and bake it separately into a small loaf or roll.

When using one of your own recipes, preheat your oven 25-35 degrees F higher than the temperature you normally use. The clay is thick and absorbs heat.


-How do I adapt recipes for one Emile Henry bread baker to fit a different one?

Select recipes with the recommended amount of flour for the bread baker you would like to use. See the Bread Baker Capacity Chart on page 34. Many of the bread bakers can be used interchangeably.

-Must I preheat my oven before using an Emile Henry bread baker?

Follow the instructions in your recipe. You can let your dough rise in your bread baker then place it into a preheated oven. You can preheat your bread baker and – carefully– transfer your proofed dough into the hot vessel. Or you can even place your dough-filled bread baker into a cold oven. All methods work.

-What rack works best?

You will get good results if you place your bread baker on a rack where it fits close to the middle of your oven. Shallower bakers – the Baguette Baker, Ciabatta Baker, Crown Bread Baker, Mini Baguette Baker and EPI Wheat Baguette Bakers – may be placed on a rack in the upper third of your oven.

-Why does the dough stick to the lid?

Be sure to use recipes with the recommended amount of flour. Do not over proof the dough during the second rising. Over proofed dough can rise too much and stick to the lid and sides of the baker.

-How do I clean my bread baker?

You can place your bread baker in the dishwasher. Or soak it in warm water with some detergent or white wine vinegar to remove baked-on stains. Just wipe it with a sponge after soaking. Let it air dry and, like all Emile Henry products, it will last you for many years to come!

Natural starter or sourdough?

What is Sourdough?

There is yeast everywhere in our world. For centuries before prepared yeast was available, bakers made bread with natural yeast. They called it starter or sourdough because it adds a subtle or strong tang to bread. You make starter or sourdough from a mixture of flour and water to create the perfect environment where good bacteria and natural yeast thrive. You make or build your starter by adding more flour (feeding the starter). With successive feedings and time, your starter becomes home to millions of living yeast cells, strong and vigorous enough to make bread dough rise.

The Secrets to Sourdough Bread

Anyone can make naturally fermented or sourdough bread. The process of making crunchy, tangy sourdough loaves is rewarding, but it requires time, patience, and practice. Many home bakers who love making sourdough bread have a routine; they make sourdough bread every week to keep their starter active and to improve their skills.

To create delicious and beautiful sourdough bread you need to pay attention to a few things.

An Active Starter

You need an active, bubbling sourdough starter. (See recipe and tips from on page 10-11) This process takes time. It may take anywhere from 7-14 days to build a strong enough starter to raise a loaf of bread.

When you make your dough, your starter must be visibly active with large bubbles. A healthy strong (or ripe) starter will double or triple 6-8 hours after feeding.

Elastic, Springy Dough

The elastic network of proteins in yeast dough traps gases to make dough rise. Because there are fewer yeast organisms in natural starter than in commercial yeast, you must capture all the gas that escapes. To do this, your dough needs to be properly kneaded or folded until it is springy and elastic.

Warm Temperatures

Yeast loves the same temperatures as people do, 70°F - 80°F and yeast will be in heaven. In cooler temperatures, the yeast becomes sluggish.

Bread dough will rise very slowly at cool temperatures. At warm temperatures, the yeast becomes very active. And bread dough will rise quickly. Because there are fewer yeast organisms in natural starter, being aware of your room temperature is very important. Unless directed otherwise, keep your dough covered in a warm draft-free place. This will help it rise.

Dough made with natural starter may take twice as long to rise as dough made with prepared yeast. Maintaining steady, warm room temperatures is important when working with sourdough bread dough.

A Gentle Touch

When handling sourdough bread, use a gentle touch. Resist the urge to aggressively punch down your dough or flatten it out before shaping. You need to preserve the gas bubbles in the dough to help it rise during baking.

Steam in the Oven

A burst of steam in the oven helps sourdough bread rise when baked. Your covered Emile Henry bread baker traps moisture from the dough and turns it to steam. Properly prepared sourdough will bake into a well risen loaf with a crisp crust in your covered baker.

Sourdough Bread Recipes

Use your favorite sourdough bread recipe in your Emile Henry bread baker. Select a recipe

with the amount of flour recommended for your bread baker. Just remember to account for the flour in your starter, which is usually half the amount of starter. In other words, 1/2 cup of starter contains approximately 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water. Account for the 1/4 cup of flour in your calculation of how much flour your recipe uses.

Homemade Sourdough Starter

Recipe and tips provided by:


To begin your starter:

  • 1 cup King Arthur Whole Rye (pumpernickel) or Whole Wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cool water

To feed your starter:

  • scant 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup cool water (if your house is warm), or lukewarm water (if your house is cool)


Day 1: Combine the pumpernickel or whole wheat flour with the cool water in a non- reactive container. (If you have only all-purpose flour, you can use it. But it may take an additional day or two to get going.) Glass, crockery, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic all work fine for this. Make sure the container is large enough to hold your starter as   it grows; we recommend at least 1-quart capacity. Stir everything together thoroughly; make sure there’s no dry flour anywhere. Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at warm room temperature (about 70°F) for 24 hours. See TIPS* for advice about growing starters in a cold house.

Day 2: You may see no activity at all in the first 24 hours, or you may see a bit of growth or bubbling. Either way, discard half the starter (about 1/2 cup), and add to the remainder a scant 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup cool water (if your house is warm); or lukewarm water (if it’s cold). Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 3: By the third day, you’ll likely see some activity — bubbling, a fresh, fruity aroma, and some evidence of expansion. It’s now time to begin two feedings daily, as evenly spaced as your schedule allows. For each feeding, stir down the starter and measure out a generous 1/2 cup. Discard any remaining starter. Add a scant 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup water to the reserved starter. Mix the starter, flour, and water, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for approximately 12 hours before repeating.

Day 4: Measure out a generous 1/2 cup of starter and discard any remaining starter. Repeat steps from Day 3.

Day 5: Measure out a generous 1/2 cup of starter and discard any remaining starter. Repeat step from Day 3. By the end of Day 5, the starter should have at least doubled in volume. You’ll see lots of bubbles; there may be some little “rivulets” on the surface, full of finer bubbles. Also, the starter should have a tangy aroma — pleasingly acidic, but not overpowering. If your starter hasn’t risen much and isn’t showing lots of bubbles, repeat discarding and feeding every 12 hours on day 6, and day 7, if necessary — as long as it takes to create a vigorous (risen, bubbly) starter. See TIPS*.

Once the starter is ready, give it one last feeding. Measure out a generous 1/2 cup of starter and discard any remaining starter. Feed as usual. Let the starter rest at room temperature for 6-8 hours; it should be active, with bubbles breaking the surface.

Remove however much starter you need for your recipe — typically no more than about 1 cup. If your recipe calls for more than 1 cup of starter, give it a couple of feedings without discarding, until you’ve made enough for your recipe plus 1/2 cup to keep and feed again.

Transfer the remaining 1/2 cup of starter to its permanent home: a crock, jar, or whatever you’d like to store it in long-term. Feed this reserved starter with 1 scant cup of flour and 1/2 cup water, and let it rest at room temperature for several hours, to get going, before covering it. If you’re storing starter in a screw-top jar, screw the top on loosely rather than airtight.

Store this starter in the refrigerator. Feed it regularly; we recommend feeding it with a scant 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water once a week.


Why do you need to discard half the starter? It seems so wasteful... But unless you discard starter at some point, eventually you’ll end up with a very large container of starter. Also, keeping the volume down offers the yeast more food to eat each time you feed it; it’s not fighting with quite so many other little yeast cells to get enough to eat. You don’t have to actually discard it if you don’t want to, either; you can give it to a friend, or use it to bake. There are quite a few recipes on using “discard” starter, including pizza crust, pretzels, and waffles, and even chocolate cake. If you’re still uncomfortable dealing with discard, though, try maintaining a smaller starter: the smaller the starter, the smaller the amount of discard.

Why does this starter begin with whole-grain flour? Because the wild yeast that gives sourdough starter its life is more likely to be found in the flora- and fauna-rich environment of a whole-grain flour than in all-purpose flour. What if all you have is all-purpose flour, no whole wheat? Go ahead and use all-purpose; you may find the starter simply takes a little longer to get going. Also, if you feed your starter on a long-term basis with anything other than the all-purpose flour called for here, it will probably look different (thicker or thinner, a different color) and act differently as well. Not to say you can’t feed your starter with alternate flours; just that the results may not be what you expect.

Should you use bottled water? Unless your tap water is so heavily treated that you can smell the chemicals, there’s no need to use bottled water; tap water is fine.

A note about room temperature: the colder the environment, the more slowly your starter will grow. If the normal temperature in your home is below 68°F, we suggest finding a smaller, warmer spot to develop your starter. For instance, try setting the starter atop your water heater, refrigerator, or another appliance that might generate ambient heat. Your turned-off oven — with the light turned on — is also a good choice.

Regarding the duration of everyday feeding, here is some great advice: “Conditions vary so widely that 7 days can be far too little. I’ve learned the key is to watch for a dramatic and consistent rise in the jar — at least doubling between 1 and 4 hours after feeding. This could be 7 days or less after you begin, or it could be three weeks (for me it was 12 to 14 days). Bakers may want to watch for this phenomenon, rather than watch the calendar.”