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Bittman's No Knead Bread~Question about pot to use?

I don't own a Le Crueset, and all I have is a cast iron skillet. Alot of Pyrex, but nothing large enough. I do have a stainless steel 8qt. which is actually on the heavy side. My question is about the lid. It's glass with a s.steel handle. Would it be safe to use this to the temp of 450 degrees? Since the ingredients are so cheap, the worst case scenario would be to just throw it out if the final product didn't turn out.

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  1. Bittman mentions pyrex in the recipe, so I think it'd be ok.

    1. The stainless steel pot itself would probably be OK but I wouldn't risk the glass lid. I have two of the same type of pots (mine are Dansk) with the glass lids with a metal handle. I was told when I purchased them not to use them in an oven over 350 degrees as the lids are not Pyrex.

      If in doubt I would contact the manufacturer. No sense in loosing your lid to high heat. I dropped one of mine, it shattered all over the place like a pane of glass and I have not been able to find a replacement.

      2 Replies
      1. re: gozz37

        Can Pyrex glass bakeware take 500 degrees???

        1. re: ChowFun_derek

          Don't know about 500 - I do have a pyrex pizza dish that I've used in the oven up to 450 with no problem. My other pyrex has been used at lower temps (350-400).

      2. A cast iron dutch oven would work just as well as a enameled Le Crueset pot. Mr Bittman is using the pot as a mold, and the extra heat energy that the enameled cast iron has will aid crust formation, so a cast iron dutch oven will do the same job in a admirable and less expensive way.
        Pyrex is not to be used at over 400F, or you risk cracking it.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Kelli2006

          (I think the OP has a cast iron skillet, not Dutch oven.) Is there such a thing as a cast iron loaf pan? With lid? If this bread is as great as everyone says I'd like to have options with shapes and sizes. I am starting mine today (as soon as I can draaag myself away from this machine.) I'll follow the original recipe for 1st try. I wonder if this bread is making waves in bakeries too, or just here?

          1. re: Kelli2006

            Since a poster above says that Bittman mentions Pyrex in his article/video as a vessel for the bread, somebody should write to the Times to let him know of this serious problem! I'm sure he'd want everybody to know about possible craking.

            1. re: Kelli2006

              450 degrees is perfectly safe provided you avoid thermal shock.

              Pyrex is common in laboratory equipment, where the safety rule is not to exceed the strain point of 959 degrees F.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                You must pre-heat the Pyrex, and drop the wet room temperature dough into it--that might cause it to break the glass?

                1. re: blue room

                  I'm steering away from pyrex because I think that is enough of a temperature difference to cause the 'thermal shock' to which Robert Lauriston refers.

            2. I have never seen any loaf(besides a Pullman) pan with a lid, but cast iron is available in many variety baking shapes. I have a few class and ceramic baking pans, so they are definitely available.

              The bread that Mr. Bittman is describing is just a extreme example of the poolish method, and that is how the best rustic European breads are made.

              1. I also don't have a dutch oven (in any form), but really wanted to try this recipe.

                I ended up used my pyrex deep dish pie dish and cocoon-ed it in heavy-duty aluminum foil. I used two sheets of the really long aluminum foil and once I added the bread dough, I crimped the two edges together to get it as sealed as possible. Also, I baked at 450 degrees, which is the temperature on the recipe.

                I think I did ok considering I didn't have one of the key tools (the dutch oven) for this bread recipe!

                A pic of the outside:

                A pic of the inside:

                Blog: http://virtualfrolic.blogspot.com/

                1 Reply
                1. re: virtualfrolic

                  I also thought of using aluminum foil and a simular container. Thanks for posting the pictures. It looks like it was a success!!!

                2. I didn't hav the rite size LC, so I used a corningware casserole dish. It is about 4 inches high and 8 inches wide. I don't have a lid for it, but I found a metal pie pan that fit and put my heavy cast iron skillet on top of that. I preheated all 3 of these in oven before baking. The bread turned out great and has a terrific crust as well as looking beautiful. This must be a pretty forgiving recipe and it's so easy.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jackie de

                    I don't know if you've seen the post about success with a smaller LC pot, i.e., 4.5 qts. I've successfully made the bread twice in that size.

                  2. You might consider buying a cast iron pot. Lodge pots are great, but if the price is a problem, look at camping stores. They often have really good prices on dutch ovens. Just be careful you don't get a pot with the little feet or you'll have trouble putting it on an oven rack.

                    I baked mine in a Calphalon pot whichh worked perfectly. I think a clay pot or Romertopf would be even better but mine is too big.

                    1. I chanced upon what (I hope) is just what I've been looking for size-wise: $6.99 from the Hispanic Foods aisle at the grocery store got me a six-inch "caldera" (that's "pot" in Spanish) ... heavy aluminum, heavy fitted lid, not so wide as to let the dough spread out too thin.

                      I've also seen similar pots in the local Asian supermarket (though I can't say whether they stock them for the local Asian clientele or the local Hispanic clientele, whom they also serve with specialties).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: wayne keyser

                        Wayne, please report back on how this caldera works---the price is sure right and if it works, well worth looking into! Love the bread, but hate having to go out and spend $100. plus on a LC pot. Thanks for the tip.

                      2. Aluminum and stainless steel don't have the same heat-retention characteristics as the recommended cast iron, enameled cast iron, or Pyrex.

                        1. I would like to have a cast iron *loaf-of-bread* shaped pan--It looks as if Lodge used to make them, but no more. I'd like a lid, too. Nothing on eBay..

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: blue room

                            I think Le Creuset still makes a covered terrine whichh would give you a loaf shape, though size is smaller than usual for bread.

                            1. re: cheryl_h

                              LC does make a terrine, covered, but it is 4 inches wide and 12 inches long, with sharp corners--just a little too extreme for a loaf of bread--I'll keep looking!

                            2. re: blue room

                              I have two Lodge loaf pans, and I considered using them but they would be
                              too small if stacked one on top of the other. I might try splitting
                              a batch of dough and using them preheated without a cover. What do you

                            3. If you'd like a loaf shape, instead of round, maybe a ceramic loaf pan with *another*, identical, ceramic loaf pan as a lid would work? Or would that let out too much steam?

                              1. I am aware that "Aluminum and stainless steel don't have the same heat-retention characteristics as the recommended cast iron, enameled cast iron, or Pyrex."

                                But my first effort used the only heavy vessel in the house: an 8-qt aluminum spaghetti kettle. And aside from allowing the dough to spread too thin, it worked as expected. The product simply left me awestruck.

                                1. I made my first loaf in a huge oval 8qt LeCreuset dutch oven. The risen dough relaxed into the whole bottom but the oven spring turned it into a high tight boule that sat in the middle 8" or 9".

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rainey

                                    I found that with my first loaf I tried last night, my 6 quart enameled dutch oven (Lodge, not Le Creuset) was large enough that the dough never reached the sides of the pan. If I had let it rise a bit more it might have done so though. I'm going to try my next batch in my 3 quart one.

                                  2. I'll be using my new "caldera" (as mentioned above) tonight - will let y'all know ("y'all" - that's "Suth'run" for "youse guys")

                                    1. I used a Pyrex bowl ( the only thing I had ) but it wasn't deep enough and the bread ended up hitting the glass lid. So now I'm thinking of using the ceramic pot that came with my crock-pot. I'm not sure about the cover, so I would use an inverted lasagna pan as a cover. Any thoughts? I don't own a LC - too poor to buy one and no one took the bait on my registry three years ago. Bummer!
                                      My other thought is simply using my bread stone and using my stock pot as a cover.
                                      Any suggestions?

                                      PS: the bread came out fine with the Pyrex. It was just a little flat and i didn't get the full oven spring on the bread.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: agninri

                                        Have you tried using the crockpot crock? I couldn't find any info about how high of a temp you can use with a crockpot for it to still be safe.

                                        1. re: nicoleberry83

                                          I have been using the crock-pot pot now for about 10 loaves and I haven't had a single problem. I'm even using the glass lid that came with it. The adjustment I've made is unscrewing the knob so it wouldn't melt. It makes removing the lid a little tricky, but otherwise I'm really happy with doing it this way.
                                          The loaves have come out great. I am obsessed with this recipe. :)

                                      2. I promised you a "caldera" report.

                                        Added just a teensy bit more flour to get, hopefully, a slightly less gummy dough. (I don't know how much - a teensy bit.) The dough looked more like what I saw in the video.

                                        Rose only 12 hours - had to get on with it. Then, of course, the second 2-hour rise, in a plastic bowl liberally sprayed with Pam. Was able to turn the dough out a little better with the coated bowl, so kept some of the loft from the rise. Baked as directed.

                                        The pot was heavy aluminum (1/8" or so) and the lid was just as heavy. The dough almost filled the pot - I was worried that it would rise too much in the oven.

                                        Result: It did rise only enough to assume the shape of the pot lid, but that was more rising than my first try achieved. (The first time I used an 8-qt aluminum kettle, and had quite a fight trying to get it into the pot, so lost quite a bit of loft.)

                                        Flavor was very good, but 16-18 hours would have much improved the flavor (when I had to go ahead and bake, it had not yet achieved that look described in the recipe as "lots of tiny holes on top.")

                                        Crust was just fine - crackly, not as tough as the first try. Crumb lacked the big holes I had in the first try - maybe the short rise, maybe the slightly-small pot?

                                        Anyway, a heavy pot is, I'm sure, essential - but aluminum worked quite satisfactory. Hurray for the $6.99 caldera!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: wayne keyser

                                          Hmm... carblover also had some issues with the air pockets in her bread and she also did the second rise in a bowl. I mentioned that RLB (I think) said that rising in bowl prevents the oxygen from migrating through the dough properly. So maybe doing the second rising in a bowl isn't the best solution if you want bigger holes?

                                        2. Thanks for your report Wayne. Great that the caldera did the job and what a bargin!

                                          1. This looks just about purrfect, tho a bit pricey:


                                            1. It's hot out of the oven. No it isn't the no-knead loaf, but it is a classic rustic leavened bread baked in a flower pot instead of an enameled casserole. I followed the procedures for the basic leavened bread in Jeff Hamelman's book, which involves a minimum of kneading and several folds during the bulk fermentation and then a long rise for the loaves. While the bread was rising, I prepared a 10 1/2 inch bulb pan by greasing the inside with Crisco and prebaking it in the oven at 250-350-450-each for 20 minutes, and then leaving it to cool. Before baking, as I was unsure of the effect if the drain hole, I put a round of foil on the bottom. I preheated the pot with the saucer to 450, slashed the loaf and plopped it in the pot and then covered it with the preheated saucer. I baked for 20 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered. The oven spring was spectacular--the loaf came out almost a sphere. And the crust looks as good as anything I've ever baked. I'll do the no-knead bread next. This is an extraordinarily good and inexpensive alternative to expensive ironware.

                                              1. I used a Le Cruset casserole both times I made it, but a word to the wise: if the pot gets TOO hot, the bread sticks and burns on the bottom. I almost ruined my pot that way. After several weeks, it is still sadly charred. Admittedly, my Viking runs a litte hot, but I turned the heat down the second time I made it, and it came out perfectly.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                  I have seen some reports of burning on the bottom, but I have not had this problem, and my bread came right out of the pot with no sticking at all. If you can raise the oven rack to get it away from the heat source a bit, that should help.

                                                2. ............and to elaborate on Father Kitchen's 28 Dec 06 post: Home Depot sells a rectangular pottery "Roman Window Box, 12.5 In" in the gardening section, SKU 200330033 for $8.49, which works like a charm. No greasing, use a bit of foil in the bottom to cover the two drain holes, use foil as a cover. Fantastic results.

                                                  1. And Cook's Illustrated recently gave high marks in their tests to the Chefmate 4-qt. dutch oven they sell for $40 at Target. I just bought one. It's an attractive dark red and looks like sturdy enamel. I will remove the knob from the lid; it's only oven safe to 350. Can't wait to try this bread out! I think I have some rosemary, sage, and olives I'd like to try in it. Now I just have to figure out how much to make to fit in that vessel. Love all the pottery vessel tips above, tho -- great to know if I need to bake a giant loaf for a party or something....

                                                    1. Cadac makes a cast iron bread pot with lid, which I have. It makes a great No Knead loaf!! Here's a link but I don't know anything about the place selling these, or the manufacturer. Mine was a gift from a friend overseas.


                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: c webb

                                                        I am kind of amazed that these posts about the Lahey recipe are still going strong. By now readers should have caught on that the actual container isn't critical. The ideal is to have something with some thermal mass that holds the heat. That way, the dough doesn't start off in a cold atmosphere while the oven recovers from having the door opened. Secondly, the idea is to trap the steam in the first part of the bake so that the oven spring won't be hampered by a tight, dry skin on the dough. Then the steam is released by taking the lid off so that the crust can bake and excess moisture can escape. Rosy Levy Beranbaum (see her web site) has had great luck baking the Lahey loaf in a steamed oven on a tile without a pot to cover it. I got my flower pot idea from a recipe in Elizabath David's bread book. She also suggests, in another recipe, to cover a loaf with an overturned bowl--essentially what you do with a bread cloche. The ideal, for me, would be a retained-heat oven as in Scott and Wing's book or in Kiko Denzer's. In England, it is possible to buy a small terra cotta beehive oven from Portugal that could be used anyplace it is safe to use a portable barbecue grill. But I haven't found an importer for the U.S. So any combination that delivers retained heat and a closed atomosphere will work, whether it is in a pot or on a tile with a pot or bowl overturned on it. And quite obviously, this baking method works with any loaf of bread, provided the shape of the container is suitable and the temperature is right. For enriched breads with a lot of sugar in them, you would want a lower baking temperature--say about 375.