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No Knead Bread Without a Dutch Oven?

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Hi All,

I'd like to try my hand at No Knead Bread, but do not own a dutch oven...I've looked at all my pots and only have ceramic casserole dishes (about 2 - 3 inches high) and a stainless stock pot...the rest of my pots have rubber handles...So will the stainless stock pot work or will it not retain enough heat for the recipe to come out right?

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  1. I think your stock pot will work fine. As I understand it, the main purpose of the pot is to concentrate and retain the moisture that is released from the dough as it’s heated. This simulates the conditions in a commercial oven with steam injection. The steam produces a hard dense crust. I use a SS pot with plastic handles. I remove the small knob from the cover and wrap aluminum foil around the side handles. It worked fine with no apparent harm to the handles. I use the “America’s Test Kitchen” recipes and methods and have made their regular and whole wheat versions. They both produced outstanding bread. I also use aluminum foil with cooking spray in place of the parchment paper. This helps keep the dough from spreading out and forming a low flat loaf.

    3 Replies
    1. re: TomDel

      Re: No-Knead, not sure I understand why this is preferrable to regular kneaded bread....? Making bread is my new hobby (just started) and an 8 - 10 min knead doesn't seem that hard and sure gets the process done with!

      So far, I've only tried one recipe... given to me by a friend. It's very simple, just flour, yeast, water and a bit of salt.

      What am I missing with the bread making process that makes the no-knead a better option?

      1. re: janetms383

        Flavour develops with the longer fermenting time. It is very nice and produces a rustic bread with a very crusty and thick crust. Not at all like the traditional bread recipe. There is a place for both.

        1. re: janetms383

          Also with no-knead one can have a very wet dough that produces a coarse crumb. all the better to hold the butter on your toast.

      2. You could always invest in a DO. They're very versitile and not very expensive.

        DT

        7 Replies
        1. re: Davwud

          Your post inspired me to check out the dutch ovens on amazon.com. Initially, I was looking to see if they had the Mario Batali one on sale. They were still too high for me at $89.99 even with free shipping. Then I came across a Lodge enameled cast-iron 6-quart dutch oven in caribbean blue for $39.99 with free shipping, regularly $77.50 and $14.50 for shipping. I bought it along with, “The Dutch Oven Cookbook” by Sharon Kramis. When my wife starts yelling, I’m gonna blame you! LOL

          1. re: TomDel

            Two things about the DO you just bought. First of all, it's most likely a "Second." I was in the Lodge factory store in Pigeon Forge on Easter weekend and they had them there for that exact same price.
            Secondly, they only recommend oven temps up to 400*. I saw the ATK NKB recipe and it had cooking temps much higher.
            Don't get me wrong, it's a great pot. I picked up the casserole and wished I'd got both pieces.
            I'm also not convinced that you couldn't use it at higher temps. anyway. Even if they suggest you don't.

            DT

            1. re: Davwud

              I'm also not convinced that you couldn't use it at higher temps. anyway. Even if they suggest you don't.

              Yes - I think my Le Creuset pots are only supposed to go up to 375 or 400, something like that, because of the plastic handles, but I've done no-knead bread at 475 in them several times without any problems. And the handles are cheap at the outlet store anyway. Not that I'm recommending it - just sayin'

              1. re: Davwud

                For forty bucks I’m not that concerned even if it is a second. I intend to replace the plastic knob on the cover with a metal one that I’ll pick up at the hardware store or Home Depot when I get a chance. Other than the no-knead bread, I’ll probably use it at much lower temps in the oven or on the stovetop for braising.

                1. re: TomDel

                  I love my casserole. I'm sure you're gonna love this pot.

                  DT

                  1. re: Davwud

                    I received it yesterday afternoon. It’s a great looking pot and heavier than a bowling ball. I can’t wait to try it out. I think I’ll make some chicken cacciatore in it this weekend. After I brown the chicken and add the other ingredients should I just simmer it on the stovetop or put it in the oven? I’ve always done it on the stove in the past. If I do it in the oven, what temp should I set it to? I’d guess about 325 for at least two hours.

                    1. re: TomDel

                      I would just do it on the stove on low to med low for 2 - 3 hours. If you do it in the oven I'd probably put it at 250*.
                      You don't want it really boiling in there. Just a nice simmer.

                      DT

          2. I have made it in my ikea stock pot many times with good results.

            1. I use my big Pyrex casserole dish all of the time, with great results.

              10 Replies
              1. re: jeanmarieok

                We had a discussion about this a few months ago here. The recipe does recommend Pyrex and I'd been doing it that way and loved it but it was pointed out that this was too hot for the Pyrex. I e-mailed to company to ask and was told, not only was that too hot but that you shouldn't heat an empty container. It'll cause little fissures and could explode. I'm looking for a good alternative w/out buying something.

                1. re: chowser

                  Early in our marriage, my wife, who was a very inexperienced cook at the time, decided to reheat some lasagna that was in a Pyrex baking dish. Unfortunately, she put it on the stovetop instead of in the oven. Luckily, no one was hurt from the flying glass. The dish literally exploded. We were stepping on glass for a month afterwards. Be carefull!

                  1. re: TomDel

                    I had an experience like that. I had a pyrex dish on the stovetop and had turned on the wrong burner, not realizing my mistake. I was standing near the stove when it exploded into a million burning hot pieces. One of the pieces landed on a Wustoff knife that was sitting there. The heat changed the color of the blade. I think about that every time I see that knife. I was home alone at the time, and know that if I had been standing one foot over in the pathway of that flying glass, I probably would not still be on this planet. A very sobering experience.

                    So don't do what I did. And keep that pyrex away from the stovetop.

                    1. re: TomDel

                      I've had pyrex shatter, too, which is why I stopped using it for no knead bread. The casserole dish/lid has a lot of pyrex glass, too, since it's thicker.

                    2. re: chowser

                      Chowser, I have made this bread in a new unglazed terra-cotta bulb pot. You need to get a saucer that is big enough to cover the opening , but as it is the same material as a pizza/baking stone it is impervious to heat and very inexpensive.

                      Ive made it in both a cast iron dutch oven and the terra cotta pot, and I prefer the texture from the pot.

                      1. re: Kelli2006

                        I have a stone loaf pan and pizza pan and thought of covering the loaf w/ the pizza pan. Does it give enough of of seal? If so, this might be perfect and I don't have to invest in anything else (no space).

                        1. re: chowser

                          If the pot rim is level, it will work fine.

                          1. re: chowser

                            You don't need a airtight seal, so that should be fine. You might have to bake smaller loves, but they wont go stale as you will eat them before they have time.

                            1. re: chowser

                              My dad has reduced the work in the no-knead to about 5 min. He doesn't bother with the DO. After the initial 20 hr rise, he puts it right onto a baking sheet w/ cornmeal, covers w/ tea-towel, 2 hr rise, then bake. You can always harden up the crust of any uncovered bread by puttting a pan of water on the rack below it in the oven.
                              Works great.
                              Try no-knead baguettes: sub in a 1/2 cup rye flour, split the dough after the initial 20 hr, roll dough out, then up (like a tight jelly roll- tuck ends under), sprinkle sheet w/ corn meal put your loaves on. Cover w/ tea-towel, double-bulk rise, cut diagonal slits, bake on top rack over lasagne pan full of water... makes 2 perfect baguettes!!

                          2. re: chowser

                            I remember my 1st apartment with a tiny gas stove. I was making chicken in a pyrex glass baking dish and the darn thing exploded in the oven. when I opened up the door there was glass and chicken pieces all over the oven. what a mess. I guess I had the oven too hot for the pyrex to handle

                        2. I have a basic Lodge Dutch oven. It was not expensive at all. I've made the no-knead bread in that and in a ceramic casserole dish with a cover. That item wasn't expensive either.

                          1. You can actually bake the Lahey No Knead loaf on a baking stone in an oven if you steam up the oven well. Rose Levy Beranbaum does that on her web site. And she reduced the hydration to 75% or ten ounces of water to fifteen ounces by weight (3 cups by the scoop and scrape method) of flour.
                            As the other posts have noted, you have lots of options. The different pot combinations trap steam for the first part of the bake. And they help to radiate heat to the loaf.
                            An option not mentioned is one I got from an Elizabeth David cookbook. Use a 10 1/2' pure, unglazed terra cotta "bulb pan" pot, which is not as deep as a standard pot, together with its saucer. They are inexpensive. For best results, coat the business surface of the pot with shortening and bake for about half an hour in a hot oven to condition it--it is supposed to reduce sticking. But people have baked successively without doing that. Never wash a porous pot with soap. I sometimes bake bread on the saucer alone. You can put foil on the bottom of the pot and plop and the loaf in. Or you can fill the drain hole with a wad of foil and put the overturned pot on the loaf in the saucer like a lid. (Careful how you handle it--silicon gloves help!) On another thread, someone else used the terra cotta window box to bake no knead baguettes. Place the baguette on a stone or sheet pan and cover it with the hot window box.
                            Finally, another brand of glazed iron casserole to look for is the Tramontina. I think Kohl's sells it under a different brand name. I got ours at an Ace Hardware in Tucson for about $40.00.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Father Kitchen

                              As FK said- it's the humidity. I've been making my NK bread in a cast iron skillet. When I heat the oven (and large cast iron skillet), I have a small skillet with water in it heating in the oven as well- and it's worked perfectly. I like the crust better this way than when I had the "proper" vessel.

                              1. re: cheesemonger

                                Hi Cheesemonger

                                I am planning to follow your steps as I do not have a pot that I can put in the oven. The only thing I have is a CI skillet. How much water is in the small skillet or does it matter? Thank you.

                              2. re: Father Kitchen

                                I’ve made the no-knead bread three times now using the America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) recipes. I’ve made the standard loaf once and the whole wheat version twice. The only deviation that I made to the recipes was to use aluminum foil instead of parchment paper since I didn’t have the latter on hand. My problem is that the crust, particularly the bottom, on all three loaves was so thick that I could barely cut it with a very sharp serrated knife. The ATK recipe calls for baking it with the cover on for the first thirty minutes and then twenty to thirty minutes with the cover off or until the internal temperature is 210 degrees. If I reduced the cover on time and added it to the cover off time, would that give me a thinner crust? Any other advice would be very much appreciated.

                              3. You can also try the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (there's a long thread a few pages down). It's a very wet no knead dough, and you bake it on a stone.

                                1. I use a traditional chinese clay pot big enough to fit a chicken in that I got for $6. Soak in water before 1st use, though.

                                  1. Hi All, very late and very new to this. I have a question regarding the oven setting, that is the location of the source of heat.

                                    Should I always set the oven to "bake" or can I use convection (heat from top and bottom but circulating). Sorry, I've really new to baking and my impression has always been it is a lot more exacting than cooking. TIA

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Apprentice

                                      Since if you are following the instructions and cooking it in a Dutch Oven, it's "enclosed" and in a (probably) heavy pot-- thus the location of the heat doesn't matter so much. I'd do convection if you have it, but it likely doesn't mater much either way.

                                    2. Your ceramic casserole would be the next best thing. I would not use the stainless stock pot - not heavy enough to hold the heat. 2-3 inches high is enough. It will just rise in a little mound. That is as high as my no-knead bread really gets (at the edges) anyway.

                                      1. Totally late to the game. I bought a plain old non-enameled Lodge dutch oven for the no-knead bread ($35 at Fred Meyer(Kroger). With that, you don't have to worry about pre-heating damaging the pot, no knobs to worry about, it just works every time.

                                        My bread raises on a piece of parchment in a pie plate. When I'm ready to transfer to my Lodge pure cast iron, I just lift the parchment containing the dough out of the pie plate and gently place it in the pre-heated Lodge.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: WouldBeCook

                                          Love your idea of the parchment. I've been doing it in a cloth and dumping upside down, but sometimes it sticks to the cloth or lands badly-- with your method I can even score the top (this bread doesn't generally need to be scored, but sometimes I think it would help-- I'm not the most consistent baker of this bread and it's always a somewhat different consistency)

                                          1. re: DGresh

                                            If you use cornmeal or wheat bran on the cloth, it won't stick. I just make a mess when I transfer to pot - cornmeal everywhere!

                                            1. re: sarah galvin

                                              Rice flour really helps with the sticking problem. Regarding the transfer of dough to the pot: I pinch together and raise the left two corners of the towel in my left hand and the right two corners in my right hand, position the ball over the pot and release the left corners while holding on to and raising the right two. = dough falls upsidedown into pot, no flour/meal on table or floor.