The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

would Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes work for me? if not, what would? *UPDATED with more ingredients*

zhi.ann's picture

would Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes work for me? if not, what would? *UPDATED with more ingredients*

I'm new to baking-bread-from-scratch but trying to learn...

I just moved to a rural area in China where they don't sell bread. My husband misses it a lot, so I'm trying to learn to make it. However, what I'm reading on here sounds a bit intimidating. I've baked yeast breads in the states, but I had any ingredient I could want and just did step by step recipe instructions, without trouble. Here, I just have the basics.

I asked around on's bread group about ideas. I was recommended to check into the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes' master recipe and Irish Soda Bread (but I don't have cream of tartar here).

From what I've read online, the master recipe (and maybe some others?) would work for me in some ways, but not others. Here's what ingredients and equipment I do and do not have access to:

*UPDATE* - I looked around and found more available ingredients: soy flour, black and purple rice, sesame seeds, millet, sticky rice flour, corn flour and corn meal, lotus root starch, sorghum (milo) and sorghum flour.


*white flour
*rolled oats (and a small mill if I need to grind them)
*buckwheat flour
*soy oil
*applesauce (can make it)
*fruits of all varieties, inc. dried like raisins
*white sugar
*brown sugar
*cinnamon (can buy the whole bark and use mill to make it ground)
*soy flour
*purple rice
*black rice
*sesame seeds
*(yellow) millet
*sticky rice flour
*corn flour
*corn meal
*lotus root starch
*sorghum (milo)
*sorghum flour


*small countertop oven (with options for turning on both elements, just the top, or just the bottom)
*electric stovetop
*rolling pin
*mixing bowls, spoons, that type of thing

I can get (from a city an hour and a half away):
*baking powder
*baking soda
*packets of dry yeast

I do NOT have & don't have access to:
*whole wheat flour
*bread flour
*sour cream
*cream of tartar
*'coarse' or kosher salt - not even sure what this is
*baking stone

Any ideas? I'm considering buying the book but not if I am lacking something for all the ingredients. General tips about baking without a baking stone, or about alternatives for it, and ingredient subtitutions related to my lists above, and that kind of thing are also appreciated. Thanks!

Trishinomaha's picture

Since you have no easy access to yeast you might want to try growing your own sourdough starter. It's pretty easy and what fun to find out what those chinese yeastie beasties would be like! Check out Sourdo Lady's starter recipe. Once your starter is ready then all  you really need is the starter, flour, salt and water. You can mix up a dough (lots of easy recipes on this site) and bake free-form on the back of a cookie sheet or in a dutch oven style covered pan. What adventures you can have! Let us know about your progress. I'd really be interested to see some pics onces  you have your sourdough going.

Trish =)

zhi.ann's picture

Thanks for the advice! What's a starter, and how do I find the recipe on this site?

Sorry I don't know about the basics like this... but I'm a fast learner and will be sure to share my experiences!

dstroy's picture

I probably wouldn't get a whole baking book to start out with....

Start with the recipe on Lesson 1 from the lessons page...and then just sort of start tweaking it from there to find what suits you! There's no ingredients there that you wouldn't have access to there.

Or the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes basics were discussed in a Q&A here on the site and you could definitely play with some of those recommendations- though to me all the discussions on that method seemed to be more about fitting in bread baking into a busy schedule, moreso than baking with limited ingredients. I found that the 5-minute stuff was great on days where we had so much packed into our schedule that bread wouldnt have been an option without it, but I still prefer the "regular" one Floyd makes when we've time to be around the house for it.

And his "Daily Bread" in the end, is still one we come back to all the time. I know lots of folks have fiddled with aspects of it to suit their tastes and there's a wide variety of tweaks and changes that have been successfully adopted for variations here!


And stuff like baking stones - we've used tiles...but there've been times where a cookie sheet turned upside down worked too. Peels are nice but Floyd's broke a few weeks ago and he's using a wooden paddle right now - so there's no fancy equipment truly needed!


zhi.ann's picture

I probably fit into the "bread baking into a busy schedule" category also, but I will also play around with the baking lessons and daily bread on this website.

Is it going to be possible for me to make any kind of wholesome, not white-flour-oriented bread even though I don't have whole wheat? For example, can some things be substituted by ground rolled oats or buckwheat, or are there breads where I can add nuts, that kind of thing?

White bread's better than nothing but I'm not a huge fan. At the same time, without whole wheat available, I'm at a loss as to what to do!

Thanks for the help!

squatteam's picture

When I was overseas and had problems getting some ingredient I looked around to see what was available as a substitute. Lard works great and gives a great texture to all kinds of items (like cake!!!). I even used bacon grease, strained and cooled as a substitute for butter or margarine or shortening. If you can get a couple of vanilla beans sent to you you can make your own vanilla extract by splitting a bean or two and placing them in a bottle with Vodka, bourbon or a couple of weeks you've got great stuff...also place a vanilla bean in your sugar to get a real treat. For corn syrup use 1 cup sugar disolved in 1/4 cup water (you can cook this to make it easier) and those packaged dry yeasts have a long shelf life if you can freeze them or at least refrigerate them. For the cream of tartar you can substitute 3 teaspoons lemon juice or 3 teaspoons vinegar for 1 teaspoon cream of tartar. Yogurt is a perfect substitution for Sour Cream 1 to 1.

We always found that advising friends and relatives of 'needs' made Christmas a real delight and that the 'care packages' with well thought out requests were treasures. Good Luck, oz

zhi.ann's picture

Thanks for the handy substitution suggestions - I'll be referencing this post often, I'm sure! You mentioned lard and bacon grease; we store the leftover stir-fry oil, any chance this would work? I use it in biscuits daily and I actually like them better than what I thought was my oh-so-perfect recipe with shortening in the States.

I'll also be hinting at some of those items my family can help us out with - things that aren't too expensive there but are valuable here!! :-) 

KipperCat's picture

Hi,  I don't think this book will be a good fit for where you are.  From MiniOven's comments, the flour available in China is quite a bit different than here in the US, with a lower protein content. I think the flour would require more gluten development than you get from the methods in that book.  Mini O made a lot of good bread when she was in rural China.  If she doesn't see this and chime in with advice, and you can't find her posts, just post a question for her attention.

Good luck!  I've no doubt you'll  be turning out good bread quite soon.

zhi.ann's picture

I think she found me after you posted. Thanks for referring us to one another!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I just found this thread and tears are rolling down my face just reading the ingredients. This is going to be fun! And it's a challenge, but nothing you can't manage, I'm sure of it. I also spent a couple of years in rural China baking bread. Welcome to the Fresh Loaf!

Mini O

HERE is something to read in the meantime.  I'll be back in 12 hours. 

zhi.ann's picture

Thank you! I'm glad we've 'met.' I'll be staying in tune with what you have to say! Hoping to start my first loaf this weekend so we'll have bread next week.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

some of the smaller supermarkets, you'd be surprised what you can find. They also carry commercial yeast. Also this time of year, walnuts will be getting scarce, if you like them and cook with them, then stock up. I 've found fresh corn meal in all the local markets and also millet. I got one little store (about 20 sq m of flour space) to carry almost all my basic bread needs, flour, oil, eggs, yeast, so I didn't have to stockpile at home. Here is a site I use to identify grains and stuff:

Like I wrote in my blog, adding one egg white to every 500g (4 cups) flour works wonders. (You might have to get yourself a scale and they take time to find.) Throw the egg into your measuring cup and add water to the proper amount. In that respect, I think the "5 min a day" recipe would work, try the master one and see. (you might have to Search for it) And the dough stands cool in the fridge so the eggs won't be too much of a problem for a few days. You might have to add just a little bit more flour in the initial recipe, as the dough tends to get more liquidy as it stands. I've found that flavour improves as dough stands. Grating a cooked potato or adding a handful of dry rolled oats also helps the flavour and control of the dough. (The rolled oats seem to absorb moisture preventing too wet dough, might be interesting to use 5 min day recipe and mix a handfull of dry rolled oats into it.)

Check out the Yeast water thread, it could also be good for starting your own yeast if you can't find any or just want to see what those dried fruits can do. Tip: Keep notes!

You can make great pizzas with your dough: mix 200g wheat flour/200g water/a fourth teaspoon of yeast (or use yeast water) cover and let it sit over night. Next day add egg white, more flour a splash of oil and eventually salt (in other words, the rest of your ingredients). Let it sit to rise. Separate into little balls and roll out when ready. They can be either pre baked or covered with toppings right away. (Getting cheese in China is the only major problem.)

Cooking with yogurt can be interesting too. I've discovered most brands have an added ingredient to keep them liquid and this affects any recipe used. Normally I can hang yogurt in cheese cloth for a few days and get cream cheese, Liquid yogurt doesn't get thicker, it just runs through or doesn't work. I've added it to sauces thinking it with thicken, oops, turns into milk, trick is to stir in flour first.

Take care,

Mini O

zhi.ann's picture

I tried the master bread and it came out amazingly good, especially the crip crust. The inside was a bit gooey though. I still have dough left over. Is it too late to try your suggestions? The dough's about 2 days old. I'm thinking about adding an egg white and a handful of oats, then leaving it in the fridge overnight and then cooking it the next day to see how these suggestions work out.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I think I would go a bit farther. Add an egg white, some oats and knead in some flour (some salt too) and then let it rest an hour at room temp and then overnight in the fridge. (Or use this left over and combine to a newly mixed up Master Recipe and include egg white.) Give it a few hours to rise before baking being careful not to handle it. (If you find the dough surface tearing and cracking open, then I suggest baking it inside a form to help the yeast lift up the dough. Forms would include small fry pan w/o handle, casserole, small glass or stainless mixing bowl, or clean biscut tin, etc.)

How long did you let it rise? I found I had to play with the temp knob while baking, If the oven is too hot, crispy brown crust but raw inside. The trick would be to turn it down to about 205°c after the first 5 -10 minutes. Also if you tap or knock on your bread when you remove it from the oven, the hollow sound can be helpful in determining doneness. (a thud sound -- return to oven until tapping sounds hollow).

Mini O

zhi.ann's picture

Am I supposed to use top and bottom heating elements? I'm just using bottom since I thought the top was like a broiler, but everything I bake from bread to biscuits to pretzels takes around twice as long as the recipe says, and has a burnt or almost burnt bottom crust but hardly any brown on the rest of it.

[EDIT] Wow, I'm glad language learning has already taught me to laugh at myself... I suppose (according to this article) I've been using my oven wrong this whole time!!! My husband had been 95% sure that I was only supposed to use the bottom heating element, so that's what I've been doing. No wonder everything came out wrong! Now that I think about it this makes sense, but, well anyway, I'm going to go try again. :-P Thanks for bearing with me!

I let it rise 4 hours before refrigerating. Afterwards, an hour for my first loaf and an hour 40 minutes the second time.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

most of the time.  If you find the tops burning, try to cover or make a tent with a piece of aluminum foil.  That is what I love so much with the casserole lids!  And I'll be darned where the thermostat is in that dinky thing.  If it is on top and the lower coil is on, it just stays on till enough heat reaches it... in other words...burns the hell out of food!  (guess that would create holy food)  The top element can also be used as a broiler but you need the heat when baking.  I use to sit and watch my bread and hold my breath, just when I thought I'd change to bottom heat, the thermostat would kick in and the coil would darken.    

Everything sounds like it's coming along well.  We're having freak snow at the moment, funny me, I was thinking of mowing the lawn for the first time!  Snow bunnies for Easter?

Mini O

nbicomputers's picture

can you get

wheat germ

soy flour

zhi.ann's picture

I have no idea about wheat germ - I kind of doubt it. I wrote down the Chinese characters for soy flour and will look this week as I'm out around town. Thanks!

zhi.ann's picture

I looked around an can not find wheat germ but can find soy flour.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Vanilla flavoured jogurt can also be used in recipes for vanilla taste..

Have you discovered that vinegar comes sweatened and non-sweetened?  Letting a few drops dry out is a good test.  

Where are you in China?  I do like your oven, I can just smell toasted rolled oats.  Oats, not only very healthy, they're one of my favorite grains.  (Laboratory rats fed only oats, remain healthy much to the disappointment of lab mad scientists!)   I made cardboard peels to load and unload pizza and bread onto an inverted baking tray.  Can you get a hold of baking parchment?   -- careful, easy to get the baking paper used for decoration that sticks like crazy.

Powdered milk is also available, check the baby food section, I bought the dried milk for seniors, less sugar.  Easy to add to recipes by mixing with water.  I made my own sour cream using powdered milk.  It is also possible to make cheese as well but it starts to get expensive.  Any cows or goats in the neighborhood?  They also like to eat up bad bread experiments, esp goats. 

English muffins come out great with chinese flour!  I've also made pretzels.  Lots of fun! 

Mini O

zhi.ann's picture

Thanks for using your experience to help me out! Vanilla yogurt is very popular - good idea - can I use it as a direct substitution in recipes calling for small (1tsp-ish) amounts of vanilla extract?

If my vinegar is sweetened, do I need to do something when using it to cook/bake?

I'm in Yunnan, a few hours from Kunming. Were you in Nanjing or nearby?

I haven't seen anything like baking parchment, but then again, not sure I'd recognize it in the states, either. 

No cows here, but lots of goats - goat cheese is available, but I'd guess using it in recipes would be very different, since I know it can be fried without melting so it must be a different consistency/ have a different melting point.

We made pretzels last night using the recipe on this site! My husband was watching as I browsed around and he saw the pictures, and got the craving :-)

I love English muffins - and I see the link to them on the column to my left right now! So I'll go click around!

Thanks again for your friendliness & help!  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'm enjoying helping you. 

Vanilla yogurt is better substitution in recipes where milk or buttermilk is also included, like pancakes, coffee cake, etc. I think small (1tsp-ish) amounts of vanilla yogurt would get lost as a flavouring.

If my vinegar is sweetened, do I need to do something when using it to cook/bake?

Just remember that there is already sugar in it. Did some funny things to my potato salad, I thought at first the potatoes were so sweet. (As you can imagine also not good for washing windows or sanitizing laundry or killing athlete's foot fungus.) You have to find the symbols for sugar and then compare the labels. I ran into some college students in the market and they helped me out.

So you live in the tropic zone! Way down south, so to speak. Are you in the mountains? I lived a bit north of Nanjing. They managed to get record snow this year! Not a plow in sight! I don't even think Nanjing Airport owns a snow plow. Three weeks of snow and snow on the ground. Normally it stays just above freezing in the winter.  I googled around and discovered you also have a METRO Supermarket in Kunming!  That means you can get rye and whole wheat flour too.  Cheese and butter and everything!  Find out where it is and apply for a membership card first.  Easy to do.  It's a wholesale chain.  

Mini O
zhi.ann's picture

Vanilla yogurt:

I'll probably try it out once I run across something I want to make that calls for vanilla and milk. Thanks for the tip!


Also good to know - thanks!


I do live in the mountains, which does funny things because it's high altitude but also high humidity, unlike the dry mountains of Colorado I'm used to. The Metro in Kunming now only allows corporate accounts, which confuses all the people around here, me included, since it seems that only stands to lose them business. Maybe it'll change. It is several hours away so we don't go often but there's also a walmart and Carrefour where we can get some (rather expensive) products such as these. My husband's a cheese lover so he's considering it worth the splurge for that :-)

I heard about the crazy amounts of snow - how long did you live there?