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Heating empty Le Creuset?

I've been reading the threads on no-knead bread here and I'm eager to try it. My only hesitation: I did a google search and found a few people complaining that pre-heating their empty Le Creuset pots in the oven caused discoloration. It looks like many people use Le Creuset for this recipe, though, so I would think it would be mentioned more often if this were common. (If it was discussed here, my search of old threads didn't turn it up.) Still, I love my 5.5 qt pot and am afraid of ruining it. The problems with pre-heating were discussed in comment threads of blog posts that are months old and that the commenters probably aren't checking in on, making it hard to follow up...so, chowhounds who have pre-heated your empty Le Creuset pots in the oven, can you please reassure me that it's ok to do this?

P.S. I do know about the problem with the plastic knobs. I have a stainless steel knob, so that should be fine.

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  1. It's fine. I do it with my brand-new Le Creuset. The only "discoloration" I've noticed is if the pan wasn't 100% sparkling clean before heating. It cleans up perfectly each time.

    I encourage you to use your LeCreuset for the no-knead bread. It'll be fine!

    1 Reply
    1. re: mimilulu

      Mine has some stains on the inside of the pot from the high heat, but nothing on the outside. Preheating certainly won't turn your red pot into a black one, if that's what you're asking. Lots of people really scrub the inside of their pots with cleaning solutions to get them FoodTV sparkley white & clean, but in my opinion that's just a big waste of time. I liken it to cleaning the bottom of your shoes.

    2. Enamel cookware may discolor in the over or stove if ther are either impurities in the enamel(unlikely), or carbons on the surface(like food and oils). My Cruset products are both old and mostly black. I've tried to clean most of them and have done more harm than good(chips and wear). I inherited my cookware, and the newest must be at least 30 years old and amoung my favorite stuff. They get black. IThat is if you cook!

      1. Other pans work well also as mentioned in the other Bittman threads. However, the Creuset
        pan is my favorite for this bread -- and I make it a lot. The 5.5 quart pan size is too big however -- try a 3-4 quart size for a prettier, domed bread. Read the other threads for more info and the link to the Bittman follow-up article which talks about the best pan size. Good luck. Creuset is wonderful, and over time and decades the pans will darken, even chip, a bit.

        1. Thanks for the replies, everyone. I'm going to go for it this afternoon!

          1. I have a massive Le Creuset- I cant remember how many qts it is..... its just VERY big, maybe 12"+ in diameter (im gonna measure when i go home). Anyways, I know this is "too large" for the no knead bread, but its all ive got. Will it work?

            1 Reply
            1. re: bastet212

              Yes, it will work. I have 7.25 Qt which is pretty big. Your loaf just might be a bit flatter (not necessarily a bad thing). Another trick which might help is to do the 2nd rise in a saucepan or mixing bowl approximately the diameter you desire. This will give the dough more height and most likely result in a taller loaf.

              Also, RE discoloration:
              The enamel on mine has not discolored, but some brown residue from the browning dough would just not come up with regular soap and water. I ended up springing for the fancy Le Creuset cleaner ($10) and it worked like a charm. It seems to contain bleach and a microabrasive, so other things might work just as well (some have mentioned SoftScrub and Bar Keeper's Friend). But I'm worried about the warranty, so I figure using on LC approved cleaner is a good idea. And for $10, it only took a little bit to clean the pot. So it should last a little while.