Progressive Baker® ingredient experts help solve your challenges

We asked our baking specialists to put down their oven mitts and take a few minutes to answer some important questions from your fellow scratch bakers. Follow the exchanges below. For more in-depth insights, view our full list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Also, feel free to submit your own questions by emailing us at: We'd love to hear from you!

Q. "I've developed my own unique starter dough and I want to keep it "alive" for an extended period of time. How can I do that?"

A. Our expert says: "Starter dough can be preserved for future use through refrigeration (ideal for regular or occasional use) or freezing (better for long-term storage). When refrigerating, store your starter in a non-airtight container and cover loosely with plastic film to let gasses escape. Stir and feed the starter weekly or monthly, depending on planned usage. Feed the starter using flour and water in equal weights (2/3 to 3/4 cup of water for every cup of flour), and occasionally change the container to prevent contamination. To freeze your starter, thoroughly dry it and store it in a resealable bag. It can be easily revived at any time!"

Q. "I've noticed that some of my cakes have been coming out with a thicker, tougher crust, which detracts from the taste experience. What can I do?"

A. Our expert says: "This could be one of several things. You might want to start with your oven temperature and performance. You could be over-baking the cake, or your oven may be underperforming so you're baking too long in a cool oven. You also may want to look at your sugar levels. There might be too much sugar in the dough, which can lead to a thicker crust and a tough exterior."

Q. "Lately, my loaf breads have been baking up with fairly significant holes in their interiors, which are very noticeable upon slicing. What is causing that?"

A. Our expert says: “Holes in bread can come from a variety of causes. One is mixing. Over-mixing or under-mixing can cause the dough to be improperly developed, creating poor gas retention, which leads to holes. Always mix to instructions for proper dough development. Also, check your proofer. The humidity and/or temperature may be set too high, which affects the dough's fermentation and can lead to holes."