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(Another) Bittman Bread Question - size of cast iron pot

I'm determined to try this recipe after all the attention - but my largest cast iron pot (or appropriately heavy pot) is 5 quarts - will it work?

Also - I bought Fleischmanns Instant Yeast but it also says "Quick Rise" - are these two differents kinds of yeast or is this OK - I've always used Active Yeast.

Thanks!

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  1. Your 5 quart pot will be fine. Mine is only 3 quarts and I get a lovely high, round boule out of it.

    1. I think you bought exactly the right kind of yeast. I had always used the non-instant active dry yeast before, but the Bittman recipe calls for the instant Rapidrise stuff. That's what I used and had great results.

      1. In Bittman's followup article to his original one about the Sullivan-Lahey bread, he says that the best size pan is a 3-4 quart one rather than the original larger size. I agree. Also, Bittman said that both instant and rapid-rise yeast are fine. Good luck. I love this bread and had to stop making it as the lbs. were creeping on. But it so easy and so impressive that I make it for guests. Have high-quality butter (I use Plugra) and great preserves on hand to serve with the bread when it's hot out of the oven, or some quality oozy-goozy perfectly ripe cheese. Oh my oh my.

        2 Replies
        1. re: maria lorraine

          This is so easy to do once you are in the groove of it. I had a nice rhymn going where I was starting one loaf rising just as we were finishing one. But I had to stop making it too because I loved it as a substrate for really good butter. Cholesterol readings. May be inspired now to make a loaf for fun.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Yeah, I wish he'd written the follow-up before I requested the large-size Le Crueset for Christmas. I was getting these really (really) flat loaves until I broke down and bought a 5 qt dutch oven.

          2. I hate my oven.

            Bottom of loaf was burned - due probably to many factors - my oven temp is really variable; it can't hold a temp so the bottom element comes on and off alot - I've read elsewhere about people who pretty much dispense with the cooking time with the lid off - anybody try that?

            Also - I haven't tasted it yet but I fear it's going to taste like smoked bread - my well seasoned cast iron pot was smoking like crazy.

            Also - it didn't rise enough - probably due to the fact we keep the house cool - I realized the house was only 61F so put the dough under a light for the second rise (couldn't use the oven because I was cleaning it before the high heat!)......next time I'll rise it in the oven with the light on.

            And next time starts in about 2 hours - get back on the horse Elizabeth!

            1. Anyone know if there's a link to this recipe?

              2 Replies
              1. re: bite bite

                Here it is

                http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/din...

                And the video on You Tube is good too

                http://youtube.com/watch?v=13Ah9ES2yTU

                Second batch is mixed - used less water this time too....and a little less salt

                1. re: ElizabethS

                  Thx!

              2. I use a 5 qt. enameled cast iron pot and it works great. Love this recipe!

                1 Reply
                1. re: rmperry

                  I've used both the enameled cast iron pot and a cheap cast aluminum dutch oven. I tried the latter because I was burning the bottom of the loaf a bit in the cast iron. And it worked fine. Not sure exact size. Think 5 quarts.

                2. I hate my oven - II

                  Put the rising dough in the oven with the light on but I think that proved to be too hot (first attempt too cold, second attempt too hot - one can only hope for a Goldilocks moment for the 3rd attempt).

                  Dough had thrown off a lot of water - puddles in fact. Second rise was a bit better than first attempt (also in the oven) but still very wet, sticky and hard to manage.

                  Trimmed heat down a bit and used Le Creuset -

                  .......good results - after 30 minutes the bread wasn't completely cremated and sticking to the bottom
                  ......bad news - bore a striking resemblance to a hockey puck both in appearance and taste.

                  I actually preferred yesterday's version - without the burnt parts. I think today's problem has to do with the oven temp during rising.........does anyone have a suggestion that's somewhere between our house temp of 61F/62F and the oven with the light on?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ElizabethS

                    Some people have had luck reducing the amount of water to 1 1/2 cups. I use half ww and half white and keep the water the same. On rising, you could do it for longer, even at a colder temperature. For one bread recipe, Cooks Illustrated recommended turning the oven on 200 deg. and then turning it off. If you have an oven thermometer, you could wait until it gets cool enough, though it's hard to imagine it would be cooler than just leaving a light on.

                    1. re: ElizabethS

                      The dough may be throwing water because it doesn't have enough heat to rise. Check your water measurement -- an accurate 1-5/8 cups. The dough should not be throwing water...but it will always be very, very sticky. I only use a large rubber scraper and never touch it with my hands. That makes it easy to manage.

                      When the dough has risen adequately after the first 18-hour rise, it will be full of bubbles and will pull away from the side of the bowl in strings. For both risings, I cover the bowl with Saran wrap anchored with a large rubber band to keep in the heat. I don't use a towel at any point during the rising, as Bittman originally suggests.

                      I suggest investigating the warmest spots in your home using a portable thermometer.
                      Check the top of your fridge, top of television (if practical), under a lightbulb on a desk, etc. Also, use an oven thermometer to check your oven's accuracy. It may be too hot.

                      That said, I preheat the oven for at least an hour with the Creuset pan in it. Using the rubber spatula, I scrape the dough directly into the heated Creuset and bake one-half hour with the lid on, one-half hour with the lid off.

                      This followup article to the original No-Knead Bread article by Bittman actually brings better results. It's called: "No Kneading -- but some fine tuning," and you can read it at:
                      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/06/din...

                    2. OK - I'm ready for round 3 - (it's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and I'm determined to serve this bread with our lovely cheese!)

                      I like your Saran versus just a towel - that will help with my house temp - also - to hell with hot flashes - I'm turning the furnace on!

                      Will advise!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ElizabethS

                        I'm really glad no one (other than my husband) has seen me walk around the house with our portable weather station to find the warmest room.............dough is there now!

                      2. Do you really need a warm room for the rising? I thought the theory was that you have a long slow rise (to develop flavor) which can happen in a cooler place. In fact, I don't think you want it to rise too fast?

                        1. Round 3

                          Much, much better - clearly the combination of a warmer environment plus the plastic wrap with elastic at both rises helped a great deal - I had much more dough.

                          Crust was excellent - could have been browner overall but I chickened out a little because the cast iron pot had burnt the first one so badly - I'll cook it longer tomorrow - also still a little gummy. I don't think I cut it too soon (it was under 100 degrees) I just think maybe I underdid it a bit...........I'll do the full 30 and 30 minutes tomorrow.