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No Knead Bread - 1 Year Later


It's been one year since we first read the article from Mark Bittman at the NYT on Jim Lahey's no knead bread - one of the hottest online foodie posts last holiday season. I'd like to remind everyone of this technique. I, for one, have used the recipe often! With Thanksgiving fast approaching I thought I'd post this as a reminder that homemade bread is not hard to make and this recipe will most certainly please the crowds!

Does anyone have any revolutionary adaptations they're willing to share?

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  1. After making this regularly, I found an old bread baking book in my closet that had no knead rolls. A lot more ingredients than the no knead bread but you just mix it all up, put it in the refrigerator for a few hours and make rolls. They were okay, kind of a mix between biscuit and rolls.

    As far as adaptations to the Bittman bread, I've tried whole wheat, white whole wheat, various herbs, cheeses but keep coming back to the plain old version. And, a year later, I still eat it hot out of the oven, even though you're supposed to let it cool for better texture.

    1. Funny you should post this - I am looking over my two clippings on the subject now, getting ready for Thanksgiving - a great recipe!!!

      1. No changes that work as well as the original but a question. The only problem I'm having with it is the second step where it is turned out on a floured towel. If I put enough flour down for it not to stick there is too much flour on the bottom of the bread, if I don't put enough a good portion of the dough sticks to the towel. Has anyone come up with a better idea? I'm thinking of putting it into a bowl with a little oil.

        16 Replies
        1. re: Eric in NJ

          I don't turn out to a towel anymore. I put a small amount of oil and corn meal in a bowl and complete the last rise there. It does get a little messy when I dump it into the dutch oven.

          1. re: ibew292

            Now I'm thinking I might try spraying some Pam with flour into a non stick pan and do the second rise there. Not too much of anything sticks to that.

            1. re: Eric in NJ

              In Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart swears by sprays. You can get better quality sprays than Pam, though--Trader Joe's has one that is just olive oil.

              1. re: chowser

                Actually what we have is one from Whole Foods I just use Pam as the generic term for those sprays sorry.

          2. re: Eric in NJ

            I do the same as you Eric and it's much less bother then flour on a towel. It works great.

            1. re: Eric in NJ

              I use a sheet of nonstick aluminum wrap, lightly dusted with flour, instead of a towel and it works fairly well.

              1. re: Eric in NJ

                I never was able to make the towel work and I got tired of throwing towels with embedded dough away. Now I use flour on a piece of wax or parchment paper and it works like a charm.

                My favorite flour combo yet is 1/2 bread flour and 1/2 semolina.

                1. re: Eric in NJ

                  I'm using Silpat with a light dusting of flour and it works very well. I also follow the advice of someone here (don't remember who, sorry) and have impregnated my top towel with rice flour.

                  1. re: Eric in NJ

                    The right kind of towel makes a difference. It can't have texture. I've started using large cloth napkins and they work w/ enough flour. Sometimes, I'll do the Best Recipe method where you line a colander w/ the floured towel (napkin). Put in the dough and cover w/ oiled aluminum foil. This gets a great round rise, air can circulate. Other times, I do it on a lightly floured silpat mat.

                    1. re: chowser

                      A cotton dishtowel(not terrycloth)with a tight weave and rice flour is the perfect combination. The rice flour does not stick to the dough nor the towel.. No need to wash the towel, just save it for re-use on next loaf.

                      1. re: hot tamale

                        I've pretty much stopped using the towel, but I found that plain floursack cloths (that I get in packs of 6 at Bed Bath & Beyond) worked well for this technique.

                        1. re: hot tamale

                          Ditto, except that my preference is wholemeal flour. I haven't tried rice flour, but the wholemeal really seems to prevent sticking. I keep my towel, still caked with flour, in a ziploc. Works great.

                          1. re: Kagey

                            I just started making these a couple of months ago and the family is crazy about them. My favorite at this point is 1/2 king arthur bread flour and 1/2 king arthur whole wheat. I use corn meal on the towel an that works fine, plus I like the extra crunch that it fives the crust. Does anyone know how to keep the top crust crunchy for more than a couple of hours?

                      2. re: Eric in NJ

                        This is so weird. I've NEVER had problems with putting the dough on a dishtowel. I wonder whether I'm using some extra-stick proof cotton towels (kidding)? I dust it lightly with flour and the dough usually just comes right off. Could it be the humidity in the air? Or lack thereof? I'm in Northern California.

                        After a year, I'd say that I've made the no-knead bread more than any other recipe. I still love it. Sometimes I add a bit of whole wheat flour, sometimes rye, sometimes just regular unbleached flour. Last time I used King Arthur's Bread Flour. The loaf was great as usual, but I didn't see much difference.

                        1. re: oakjoan

                          Well, it's not the ambient humidity--I'm in San Francisco. I was using the floursack cloths and having a terrible time no matter how much flour I used or how much time I spent rubbing it into the cloth to impregnate every nook and cranny with flour.

                          I just stopped worrying about it and started using parchment or a silpat. Works great. Why sweat it? But I agree it is strange that some of us get such grief and others have no problems in this regard.

                        2. re: Eric in NJ

                          Wheat bran works much better than flour and adds a slight nutty taste to the crust.

                        3. Up until 2 weeks ago i had been using about a little less than 1.5 cups of water for a more manageable dough. I've not use the towel after the 2nd loaf. I just cover with the same inverted metal bowl. I use a pair of chopsticks to work the dough: at the initial mixing and at shaping. With slightly less water, it's easy to shape using the chopsticks and tucking the dough. Then a couple more hours later, when the pot has been well heated, I trace the top half circle of the dough where it meets the bowl to loosen that part of the dough away from the bowl, and (you'll have to have good spatial relation to imagine this) then tilting the bowl right over the heated pot, with the help of gravity (and sometimes a little more work with the chopsticks to loosen more portions) the dough does a slow-mo 360 flip into the heated pot, and greets me with a hiss when the dough comes in contact with the hot surface, signaling a promising nice crust to come. Done this way i don't need additional flour at all.

                          So then 2 weeks ago, i wanted to make steamed Chinese breads. I was being brave as I didn't know how much i can do with the dough after the first rise without it dying on me. This I needed flour for sure, i thought. This time I use a small soup laddle after punch down(or a table spoon would do) and sorrt of cut away a small piece. With lightly floured hand (dry) I cuddle it a little in my hands to get the dough not to stick and into a ball, then lightly flatten and stretch out the outer ring. I then filled it with my own recipe of vegetarian fillings, and do a north meets south, east meets west wrap to get a center, and then do some gathering to make it like a Chinese bun. The folds don't really stay that apparent, but it's enough to make a good seal without losing the springiness. Still not too keen on too much flour I used big cleaned leaves like kale, or mustard greens or whatever i have to set these buns onto. When it comes time to steam I carefully use a big flat spatula to scoop under the leaf to transfer 3 or 4 buns (slightly stuck together now) into the already boiling steamer.

                          That wasn't enough, as I wanted to do a Pan-fried/steamed (potsticker style of cooking), too. So then i would heat up (dry) a good All Clad Stainless Steel pan very hot, either carefully take each dough off the leaf, or just flip them over into the pot and then peel the leaf that's now on top off. Again, that hiss when the dough meets the dry hot pan is a good sound that tells you the sticking will form a crust that will come off clean. Then i add a little oil and coat the bottom of the pan, then some water to create steam, and the lid goes on and the heat turn not too low, only slightly lower.

                          The two Chinese variations takes a lot less time to cook. Most of all though, it had made me less afraid to work with the dough. I have also baked the buns the way that's described in the original recipe. Not only do i still get the crust, I can have more crust area by making them sort of like dinner roll where you can pull them apart, each individual piece has its own crusts all around. From there I've made baked veggie ham and cheese (comte) buns that are really tasty and convenient to take with you; as well as those filled with a mixture of chopped raisons, toasted walnuts, cinnamon, honey and maple syrup,

                          Definitely, can't thank Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey enough for getting me started on a dough journey!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: HLing

                            Hling: What fun to read about your Chinese bun adventures. Great tip about the kale leaves.

                            I'll be trying this soon. Thanks.

                            1. re: HLing

                              wow. this is really making a recipe your own. I will try your chopstick tricks.

                              1. re: HLing

                                This sounds great. I'm going to give it a try--thanks!

                              2. It seems like you really have to plan ahead to make this recipe. Does everyone really let it rise for 12 to 18 hours, and then another 2 hours? So if I wanted this bread for dinner on a Tuesday I would have to start it on Monday at 10PM, correct?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Linda513

                                  Yes, really do let is rise the 12-18 hours, in fact I think the flavor is much better if you let it go the 18, then at least the 2 hours after that. If you don't get the time quite right, the dough is pretty forgiving. Don't be afraid of this method. It may take you a few times to get it like you like, but it's well worth it. I haven't made it all summer, time to get baking again!

                                  1. re: jackie de

                                    I've had a year of wonderful bread baking with this recipe. I've substituted whole rye, semolina, and whole wheat pastry flour (since it's a little finer) for a third of the white flour (which was all-purpose for many months till I switched to bread flour), all with great results. And don't forget to have the right butter on hand to spread on it: Though most of us stock unsalted for cooking, I think simple bread-and-butter demands salted. Trader Joe's sells Kerrygold (from Ireland) at a ridiculously low price, and it's delicious.

                                    As for sticking to the towel, that's never been a problem for me. Until recently I put down a coating of wheat bran rather than flour, since I could see that flour would get too sticky unless it were an inch thick. With bran there's no sticking. But I just tried semolina for the first time the other day, and it worked well too--just grainy enough to keep the dough from glueing itself to the towel.

                                    A cousin whom I introduced to this recipe tells me she's made delicious cheese bread with it, incorporating a heap of Gruyere just before the final two-hour rise. I'm afraid I have no further details on that, so you'll just have to do your own experimentation.

                                    1. re: jackie de

                                      What was working well for me was just starting a new batch every few days. Then I had one on hand to eat and one in process.

                                    2. re: Linda513

                                      Yes, it does require some planning ahead, but once you get used to that, it's great. I mentioned once before that there is a shorter method that I use only when I absolutely need the bread to be done in a day. I start as early as possible, say 7:30 or 8:30am, and follow the recipe, except double the amount of yeast to 1/2 a teaspoon. By around 4pm, the dough has done a pretty good first rise, and I proceed as per the recipe. It works really well, but you definitely do lose some of the flavor.

                                    3. Thanks for posting the link to the recipe. I keep meaning try it, but then don't have on hand (drat that I threw out the newspapers!)
                                      Didn't Bittman do a correction shortly after he initially published the recipe? Does this recipe include the correction, or am I not remembering corrrectly?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: NYchowcook

                                        Bittman did run another article a few weeks after his initial article came out. That later one included some wisdom from readers and elaborations. Here's a link to the initial article: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.... And here's a link to the later article:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/06/din.... Let me know if these links don't work.

                                      2. My report back. I used the non stick pan and non stick spray and that sucker just plopped right out. I'm liking the Bittman repost with weights in stead of measures. Flour does vary according to weight and I think using the measurements has caused my doughs to be too wet allowing them to stick so much. I'll try a loaf that way next.

                                        1. I've been making this bread for over a year and we LOVE it! My husband is thrilled that it is now fall in Oregon and I don't have to watch the weather report to find two days in a row that are not hot!

                                          I love the suggestions of using rice flour and/or non-stick spray for the step that has continued to confound me...the rise on the floured towel. I, too, have thrown out more than one cotton towel! The siltpat, parchment paper/wax paper/non-stick aluminum foil and colander are ideas I may also try.

                                          Thanks for starting this thread, I love refining the great concept!


                                          1. Good timing! I've just restarted the bread season here in New England. Last year, I made about 10 loaves in two weeks right around the holidays...bringing bread to every gathering I could.

                                            Reading these posts I decided to try wax paper instead of a towel, and the wax paper worked great. I'd never had a problem with the towel, other than having a floury sticky towel to wash afterwards. It's in the oven now.

                                            I usually use half whole wheat and half white flour. I may try 100% whole wheat one of these days.

                                            1. I just stuck a loaf in the oven. I never used the towel; the whole idea just put me off. I do the second rising on a small cutting board, covered with the upside down mixing bowl. Then I scrape the dough into the heated pan with a silicon spoonula.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Euonymous

                                                This is revolutionary. Eliminating the final 2 hour rise means I don't have to be around 3 hours before the bread is to be eaten. 2 hours is sufficient, which means that I might actually be able to do this on a weeknight, rather than as a weekend treat. And other comments on this thread about storing the bread cut side down were another breakthrough!

                                              2. "Does anyone have any revolutionary adaptations they're willing to share?"

                                                Perhaps this isn't a revolutionary adaption but it is time to 'fess up. I'm embarassed to publicly admit that I've streamlined No-Knead bread to a single bowl and one 24 hour day. No towel, no nuthin'. I mix the four ingredients in a large plastic bowl w/ lid. It rises for the required 18+ hours and the rest of the poking, shaping, etc is done in the same bowl. After the final rise, I simply roll it out into my pre-heated LC doufeu (no handle problem to worry about) and bake. If I begin the dough at 3 PM, bread is ready for dinner the following night. I make Lahey's bread two or three times a week and have never been disappointed. As stated earlier, I'm embarassed at how simple this No-Fail-No-Knead bread has become.

                                                14 Replies
                                                1. re: Sherri

                                                  Wow. The original recipe is so simple that it never occurred to me to try and simplify it even further. But your variation seems to make sense (not to mention the fact that you attest to its success), and it's such an unbelievably forgiving recipe that I can't see why it can't forgive this too. I think I'll stick with my Le Creuset pot, simply because I love it, but as for the one-bowl thing, I'm definitely going to check it out.

                                                  1. re: Sherri

                                                    This is a good idea. Do you oil the bowl first? If not, how hard it is to flip over? I always get some sticking, even with the first rise. Do you cover it w/ plastic wrap both times or use a towel the second time? When I do Peter Reinhart's focaccia, he has you put the dough in an oiled bowl, fold and flip in same bowl so this sounds similar. Thanks!

                                                    1. re: Sherri

                                                      "....Perhaps this isn't a revolutionary adaption but it is time to 'fess up. I'm embarassed to publicly admit that I've streamlined No-Knead bread to a single bowl and one 24 hour day. No towel, no nuthin'..."

                                                      Sherri, it's the same for me. Everything in the same bowl. I don't really need to even touch the dough with my hands to mix and to shape (unless I'm making them into individual pieces after punch down) since I've found using a pair of chopsticks makes it cleaner. In general there's no need for greasing the bowl either. I find that if the first rising goes well, the dough is pretty elastic, not too runny, and will stay together well. (usually I use 1.5 cups of King Arthurs Bread Flour with 1.5 cups of other types)

                                                      I also find that for a less sticky dough, even 1/4 cups of stone ground whole wheat flour in the overall mix will help a lot.

                                                      1. re: HLing

                                                        I'm going to try your chopstick idea - it sounds great. We'll get this down to "No-Knead, No-Work" bread before long. As it is, four ingredients + one bowl + 1 LC doufeu = terrific product. Hard to argue with success.

                                                        1. re: Sherri

                                                          it's always satisfying to get to the bare essential and to find beauty in simplicity!

                                                          Now if I can figure out how to keep it fresh tasting the day after....any thoughts on that?

                                                          1. re: HLing

                                                            Once again, I do not profess to have secret information but .......... I do exactly what everyone recommends you NOT do, store it in a sealed plastic bag. At our house, a loaf only lasts about two days. It makes stellar toast but my favorite way to refresh is either by brushing w/ olive oil and grilling the slices or toast it on a fork over my gas burner. It is as fresh as newly baked bread.

                                                            1. re: Sherri

                                                              I dont' know about "fresh tasting", but I can come close- I put in in a brown lunch bag, inside a plastic bag.

                                                              It does make excellent toast- especially in the broiler. If it's not too dense, I make french toast out of it.

                                                              1. re: Sherri

                                                                ".. I do exactly what everyone recommends you NOT do, store it in a sealed plastic bag.."

                                                                LOL, so do I. But do you refridgerate it?

                                                                I'm curious about Cheesemonger's method of inside a brown bag inside a plastic bag..i presume to control the moisture?

                                                                And does ANYONE use one of those bread box? I've always wondered if they work, and if the NYC roaches like them?

                                                                1. re: HLing

                                                                  Hi- I do it to keep the bread from living in a little sauna, but I must admit- this bread never lasts in any condition for more than a couple of days, and we toast it after day 1, so the real purpose is to keep it from getting icky soggy. I have a strange storage method- balanced on a cork extractor- which keeps the ants (my kitchen nemeses) at bay.

                                                              2. re: HLing

                                                                I put it cut side down on the cutting board. Putting it in plastic will soften the crust. It works for a couple of days. After that, I use it to make meatloaf--and it's really good. Oh, but I don't know about roaches with this method. Maybe put it all in a large paper bag?

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  Cut side down on a cutting board--PLUS put a tea towel snugly over it. This bread is a very good keeper because, among other things, it has a fairly moist center, and the towel-and-board thing keeps it quite tasty for about four days. I'd put it in plastic only in an emergency, because as soon as you do that, the crust starts to get soggy. Seattle hasn't much in the cockroach department, so I can't speak to that issue.

                                                                  1. re: Barry Foy

                                                                    Yeah, they all drowned years ago ;+)

                                                                    I heard a very interesting piece about bread on PBS today. The host was interviewing a scientist who said bread was LESS likely to get moldy when left outside the fridge. Apparently the fridge temperature is exactly right for bread to start disintegrating.

                                                                    He is for freezing bread, though. He said that the fridge temp is only a short way station on the way to freezing and so the deterioration doesn't have time to get started.

                                                                    He also talked about how bread that is a bit stale can still be good toast because the yeast molecules, when heated in the toaster, release the moisture they've been retaining as the bread gets staler.

                                                                  2. re: chowser

                                                                    Same here--cut side down. Sadly, bread just wasn't meant to last a long time. But I've learned to use the stale bread to make breadcrumbs (which freeze well) and croutons. Great for meatloaf and meatballs and treacle tarts!

                                                          2. when can the dough be divided for smaller portions? loaves, rolls, etc?

                                                            before 2nd rise?

                                                            when do you all add flavorings like cheese, onions, olives herbs, etc?

                                                            1. I've been making this bread regularly for a few months. So far my favorite (of many) variations is a Pumpkin Pie Spice with dried fruit and walnuts.

                                                              Flour- 1 3/4 cups AP, 1 cup whole wheat.
                                                              1/4 cup Flaxseed Meal
                                                              a tsp of yeast
                                                              a tsp of salt
                                                              1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
                                                              1/2 tsp cinnamon
                                                              1/3 cup sugar
                                                              1 cup assorted dried fruits- chop if necessary.

                                                              mix the above, add the 1 and 5/8 cup water- let rise 12-18 hours

                                                              next day turn onto floured parchment, fold with 1/2 cup walnuts

                                                              Since the sugar makes the bread stick, I cut a circle of parchment to go into the bottom of the vessel, flop the dough onto the parchment, then rapidly put into the hot vessel.

                                                              I broke my pyrex with lid, so I've been using a cast iron skillet- and a pan of water in the oven while it heats, and makes the oven steamy, and so far- the best crusts have been had with NO cover time, in a steamy oven.

                                                              1. Great topic. I made No Knead Bread a few times right when the article was published, but from then on I sort of adapted some of the ideas into my own bread, which has been significantly improved, I would say, but hardly perfect. I've decided to use much less yeast and let it rise over much longer times, both the initial rise and the rise in the baking pan. I don't use the dutch oven anymore - it truly produces great bread, but I really like a square loaf, and that just ain't gonna happen. I have fallen off the cornmeal dusting obligation, but am now reminding myself that it makes a big difference in getting your bread safely OUT of the pan - a problem that has just re-emerged for me. Anyway, here are some photos of my latest effort. I use all purpose flour, half a packet or less of yeast, a bit of canola oil, some soaked grains (bulgar wheat in this case) and some flaxseed meal because my sister in law says its good for you. I let it rise overnight, then a second rise all day in the pan and bake it when I get home. It's hard not to eat it all right away....

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: cheapskate

                                                                  Today I bought a bunch of organic grapes and am starting a Nancy Silverton sour dough starter tomorrow. I haven't done that in about 5 years. I finally threw out my original starter last week. It had absorbed too many odors from the fridge and had been unfed for at least a year. It was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the back.

                                                                  I'm wondering about the combo of homemade starter and no-knead bread method of heating the pot, covering, etc. Will soon see.

                                                                2. Nothing revolutionary, but I did make the loaf about 25 percent larger. I use a scale and use 20 ounces of flour, 14 ounces of water, 2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of yeast. A larger loaf, makes great french toast. I freeze the leftovers, and make either breadcrumbs or bread pudding when I get the urge.

                                                                  Nothing gets thrown out or wasted!

                                                                  1. I like a tad more salt in my bread so add a little more than the recipe calls for. I have also found that storing the bread in a good ol' fashioned brown paper bag folded down around the loaf works the best for retaining crisp crust (in the rare event that any is leftover).

                                                                    1. I've gently pressed the dough into an oiled deep dish pizza pan and made sort of a thick pizza/focaccia with it.

                                                                      1. just got my new Cooks Illustrated yesterday, which features "No-Knead Bread 2.0!"

                                                                        interesting article, with some nice tips. additions of a bit of vinegar and even beer to boost flavor...and a nice tip for using parchment paper as a vehicle for wobbly dough and also for maintaining a more consistent shape in the dutch oven.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: TSQ75

                                                                          yes, someone had paraphrased the tips in a previous post:

                                                                          In the thread I posted about using Young's Double Chocolate Stout in place of water. I'm about to make it again because last time the yeast was old, I found out, and even then it turned out quite well.

                                                                          1. re: HLing

                                                                            After the 18 hour rise I dump the dough into another pan that's been well coated with olive oil, turning the dough to oil it well and shaping it somewhat being careful not to let any of the gas/air out. Then after 2 hour rise I use a spatula to roll the dough into a heated cast iron pot, and finish as directed. Bread is always very crusty/crunchy outside and soft and holey inside. Love this bread!

                                                                        2. After reading all the suggestions, I mix it all in a bowl that's been coated with olive oil. The next morning, from Peter Reinhart's focaccia technique, I grab one end, pull and fold it on top. Turn 90 degrees, repeat, continue until I've gone all the way around. Rest (don't always do this) and then flip the dough over, cover it with plastic wrap that I've sprayed w/ olive oil. Do second rise. While oven is preheating, I put the dough on a piece of parchment on the stove on a wire rack so it gets a little heat. When the oven is heated, just pull the parchment paper w/ dough into vessel. Much simpler than what I was doing a year ago.

                                                                          1. The newest issue of Cooks Illustrated has done a remarkable thing. They have taken the Jim Lahey bread to the next level---they offer a couple of tips that truly imbue the bread with more flavor---a new shaping technique for higher rising loaves---and also some variation bread recipes. I am in hog heaven.

                                                                            22 Replies
                                                                            1. re: JeffW

                                                                              Thanks for posting all that--some nice variations. I get a nice high rise when I use a small round 3 qt pyrex casserole. It's smaller than recommended but the bread rises to the lid, nice and high. I've tried different pots and even went on a no knead pot buying spree but my old pyrex works best.

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                Wow, Pyrex??? Who'd a thunk it! I have the very same casserole, and I may just give it a try. It would be fun to be able to actually see the bread as it goes through it's changes while baking. To date, I've been using a Lodge cast iron pot---really excited to try glass.


                                                                                1. re: JeffW

                                                                                  I didn't think Pyrex Glass is supposed to be exposed to such high heat??!!

                                                                                  1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                                                    It was one of the recommended vessels in the recipe. But, you had me wondering because I have shattered pyrex (cold water, hot pan; first rule in chem 101). I couldn't find anything about temperature but did read that it is made for high temperature cooking BUT if it's older and might have hairline cracks, could explode and not just at high temperatures. I'm going to e-mail them and ask. It did cross my mind about room temp dough and hot pan but haven't had problems...

                                                                                    1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                                                      pyrex does fine on high heat as long as its not direct heat (ie-on a stove top) that will shatter it

                                                                                      1. re: TSQ75

                                                                                        Greetings all, and wish me luck. I'm curious enough about the Pyrex technique, to risk a shatter. I'll take every safeguard though, such as bringing the piping hot vessel to my wooden cutting board at all times. I'll be baking the bread a la the Cooks Illustrated technique which I posted in this thread. The temp will be 425º, so I'm reasonably sure that we will be enjoying crisp crusted bread with our dinner, as opposed to shards of glass. I'll post a pic and share my thoughts of the differences between Pyrex and Cast Iron.

                                                                                        1. re: JeffW

                                                                                          With the pyrex loaf, here are some pictures. The first is no knead. The second has Cooks Illustrated rustic bread (the larger loaf, which I like better but is more time consuming) baked on a pizza stone, the smaller is the no knead bread. It's hard to see how tall the rise but you can tell from the slices. Again, the smaller is the no knead. Hope the links work.



                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                            Thanks Chowser,

                                                                                            Nice pics. Great to see that in Pyrex, (just like cast iron) the crusts get to that deep brown crispiness that is so enjoyable.

                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                              Your breads are just beautiful - I tried the Cook's version, too, and had great results, for just a little bit more work than the original recipe. I'm going to have to try them side by side to see which one I really prefer. And I use pyrex, too.

                                                                                              I had a bad experience with pyrex exploding years ago (preheated the pan with butter in it, in the oven - took it out of the oven and poured my spoon bread batter in, and it just blew!). We found glass bits YEARS later - not fun. But I figured this recipe was a little safer, I wasn't pouring anything cold into the hot pan.

                                                                                              1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                Pretty scary story. Do you remember how hot you'd preheated your oven to? The Cooks Illustrated version is 425º. I have 2 ovens, and my dough will be proofing at 85º in my second oven, so hopefully this warm/room temperature dough won't cause the Pyrex to shatter.

                                                                                                1. re: JeffW

                                                                                                  I preheated at 400 for 15 minutes. But I poured cold batter into the hot pan, which caused it to blow. It was spoonbread batter, so it was flour, cornmeal, a couple of eggs and milk. I am sure there must have been a small crack or something, and when I poured the cold batter into the hot pan, it was too much.

                                                                                                  I haven't had any problems with that recipe ever since, but I bring the milk and eggs to room temperature, just in case.

                                                                                                  1. re: JeffW

                                                                                                    The Cooks Illustrated version has the oven preheated to 500 degrees (!) then reduced to 425 after placing the dough in the Dutch Oven and returning it to same.

                                                                                                    1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                                                                      Oh my GAWD, Derrick, you are right. I think that I forgot to preheat to 500º for the last bread that I did. It was the Rye version. It was delicious, but denser than the "tunnely" version that the standard bread is all about. I'm rethinking my Pyrex urge, and will stick to cast iron. Thanks for your post. By the way, I think we bantered a while back about "Tahdig".

                                                                                          2. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                                                            I received a response from Pyrex. The glass should not be heated to 500 degrees, but the 450 is okay. The biggest problem is that they should not be heated empty. So, I'm trying to decide whether I can fill it while while it preheats, maybe with dried beans or something and then remove it. I like the results with the Pyrex better than anything else I've tried but I'm still thinking Lodge cast iron might be the way to go.

                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                              Cooks Illustrated updated their recs. for a Dutch Oven in the same article as their Almost No Knead Bread...comparing the Lodge to the Tramontina..they preferred the Tramontina...works well, slightly larger than the Lodge...and less expensive..

                                                                                              here's a link...


                                                                                              1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                                                                yeah, but its from frikken Wal-Mart! gah!

                                                                                                their rec for the Target brand cast iron enamel dutch oven (chefmate) was a great one, but this one is much larger for the same price....it's terribly tempting, but i cant bring myself to hand my $40 over to Sam Walton...*sigh*

                                                                                                1. re: TSQ75

                                                                                                  Yeah. I'll look around. I'm also wondering if a smaller size pot would do. The best rise I've gotten is in the 3 1/2 qt Pyrex casserole where the boule rose to the top.

                                                                                                    1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                                                                      That looks great--thanks. I can make fried chicken in it, too. I'm still bummed about the Pyrex, though.

                                                                                                      1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                                                                        That's what I use to make my no knead bread. It works great!

                                                                                                    2. re: TSQ75

                                                                                                      I wouldn't worry, I'm pretty sure Sam is dead. Oh, and I've been using the Tramontina 3.5 qt to make the bread. I just do the rise in a 8 inch skillet on top of the parchment. The small pan doesn't let it rise out too far.

                                                                                        2. So I am trying a variation of this bread today, now that I'm finally done with work, choir, classes, etc. etc. and have time to breathe. There is the Bittman recipe, which calls for minuscule amounts of yeast, and long rise time, but at 70 degrees F, and then recently, there was another article in the NYT (called something like "Soon the bread will bake itself") with another version of the no knead which calls for more than a tablespoon of yeast (though for roughly double the amount of dough; still, the proportion is not the same as the Bittman version), but calls for a mere 2 hour rise time and gives you enough dough to store in the fridge for future baking.
                                                                                          1) I do not need spare dough for future baking-- or more truthfully, I don't have room for it in my tiny fridge.
                                                                                          2) As a result of crappy California insulation or lack thereof, my house never reaches 70 degrees or anything close to it, even when I have the heat on. It's about high 50s with no heat; low 60s with heat (now a space heater, b/c it's a waste to heat the entire apt. due to the lack of insulation and windows that don't fully close), but the point is that it's never 70 degrees for 18 hours.

                                                                                          So I need something in between-- maybe something that can sit for 10-18 hours, but will rise with my lower apartment temps. I tried something between the two recipes and tried a tsp of yeast for 3 cups of flour (So I sort of kept the proportions of the Bittman recipe, added more yeast than he called for, and then guessed on the water, since none of my measuring cups measure to 5/8 of a cup). I guess I'll see how it will turn out, but does anyone have a less haphazard way of figuring out a recipe that will work for (significantly) lower temperatures? I can keep the bread dough close to 70 degrees by heating the oven a bit and putting it in there for a little bit, and keeping it near my space heater for an hour or two when I'm home, but I don't want to have to babysit the bread, and when I'm out as I am for most of the day, the apt. temp. drops quite a bit. How have others dealt with this?

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: anzu

                                                                                            For other breads, I will put a pizza stone in the oven at 200 degrees and leave it for half an hour. Then I turn off the oven and put in the dough. The residual heat is enough for the dough to get a good rise.

                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                              I live in the midwest and it's cold in the winter! We never keep our house at 70 degrees at nite, so my bread never gets 70 degrees all the time. Sometimes I put it in the micro at nite (closed and of course not on) or on top of the frig, were it's warmer than in the rest of the house. This dough is pretty forgiving, so I really wouldn't worry about it that much. Good Luck!

                                                                                              1. re: anzu

                                                                                                Anzu, using the Bittman recipe, I have been doing an overnight rise in the refrigerator (38 degrees) for the past year and find it very successful. With the advent of the CI adaptation, I tried the overnight "at room temperature" method. My overnight temperature, in an unheated house in the southwest, is mid-sixties. Both breads are delicious, albeit different. I have not tried the NYT recipe.

                                                                                                We prefer the CI bread - maybe because it is a change from a whole year of the Bittman bread, or maybe my DH welcomes the opportunity to open a beer for my cooking needs. With the "room temperature" method, I needed extra time for the dough to rise fully but it was no big deal. I did not increase the amount of yeast, nor do I plan to. I really liked the irregular "hole-y" texture and flavor, the crust is extraordinary. The idea of the parchment paper sling is brilliant and no matter what recipe I use, I will utilize this truc from now on.

                                                                                                When I lived in a chilly, damp house in Monterey CA, I put bread dough by the water heater for a quicker rise. Maybe you've got a similar spot in your apt. if you want to try the warmer temperature. My neighbor put her dough (bowl wrapped in a towel) in the bathroom after she showered.

                                                                                                1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                  I didn't try any variations from CI but I will atest to the parchment sling working the best of all ways I've tried.

                                                                                                  1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                    Thanks everyone for the creative suggestions to keep the dough warm! I just pulled my bread out of the oven. The crust came out a little weird, but it did work. I mixed in some smoked mozzarella and sauteed radiccio. (It was going to be a plain bread, but I had to use this stuff up. . .)

                                                                                                    Next time, I'll try the 1/4 tsp dough and do the heated pizza stone as someone suggested. I've also printed out the CI variation for next time.

                                                                                                2. Just found this post. Nice to know there are so many other no-knead bread fans! I make the recipe with 11/2 cups bread flour, and 11/2 cups whole wheat flour, a tablespoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of yeast. I add lots of water to make a fairly loose dough (a scant 2 cups). I let it rise in the mixing bowl overnight and bake the following evening. To avoid the transfer problem I form the dough and let it rise on a parchment paper lined skillet (covered with saran wrap) which is approximately the same diameter as my (pyrex) bowl. When ready I lift the dough still on the parchment paper from the skillet and place it, paper and all, in the preheated pyrex bowl in the oven, cover and bake. Works perfectly, full of holes. This method is so easy and my husband refused to eat any other bread.