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Jan 27, 2011 04:52 PM

Baking Bread in the Le Creuset 2.5 qt. Doufeu

To the few folks who'd been discussing it with me over the past few days, I've tested out three variations on the bread tonight in three different pieces of Le Creuset.

I made a double batch of the no-knead bread recipe found in Jim Lahey's book. After 18 hours of rise, I divided it into three parts: a half piece and two quarters. They then rose for 2 more hours inside a floured napkin.

One quarter went into the 2.5 qt. (20 cm) Doufeu. The other quarter went into 3.5 quart round (22 cm). The "full" half piece went into the 5 quart (32 cm) braiser/buffet casserole.

The piece usually used for this recipe is something in the 5.5 quart round (26 cm) neighborhood. I have done the bread with great success in that sized oven and am just toying around with others.

For those unfamiliar with the Lahey "no-knead" method, the bread was baked, per the recipe, at 475 degrees for 30 minutes with the lids on the various Creuset pieces. Afterwards, to achieve a personally-desired level of browning, the lid is removed and the bread continues to bake.

I removed the lids at 30 minutes and only let them go, for control purposes, for two minutes longer.

The bread baked in the Doufeu is notably darker than the loaf made inside the 3.5 quart oven. It remained rather compact, but was not constricted by the 8" diameter of the Doufeu.

The bread in the 3.5 quart is lighter and slightly larger. I'm not sure if the higher lid allowed for more circulation and, therefore, more oven spring. I guess I need a scientist here.

The final loaf made in the 5 quart braiser... well, no one's going to call it a beauty queen.

The oven's 32 cm wide, a full 6 centimeters wider than the usual 5.5 quart round. And the bread did not benefit at all from the lower lid. No, the bread looks more like an oddly lopsy Pogach loaf. Part of it, I know, was that it more or less slopped into the braiser as it fell free of the napkin I'd been rising it in.

I cannot speak yet about the crumb of the individual loaves as they're still cooling.

Conclusions? Oh god, I wish I knew. I think any further experiments will leave out the braiser since it failed so miserably this time. We'll see. Also, I want to use Peter Reinhart's pain de campagne found in his Bread Baker's Apprentice to see if similar conditions exist in the ovens. I've never made his recipe in cast iron before, so it'll be an interesting approach.

I hope this helped at least a couple people who purchased the 2.5 qt. Doufeu without knowing what on earth they'd do with it. If nothing else, it makes smallish, but lovely loaves of bread!

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  1. Please report back on taste. I attempted NKB twice in LC dutch, but failed miserably, but I think it was my poor baking skills and working with yeast. Never thought to use my LC braiser.

    1. Hi, ProfB,

      Beautiful breads! Thank you for sharing your experience and experiment!

      I baked KNB twice with my 3.5 qt LC round ( not Wide round, normal Round) based on New York Times KNB recipe. It was fine ( Yours looks much much better! ) and I have never tried recently. But When I did reserach, I found the following site.

      The author looks to have a lot of experience and his favorite DO to use for the KNB is 3.5 qt Kitchen Aid DO. ( Actually, the author used 5.0 qt DO but the result with 3.5 qt was more favorable to HIS taste, which endorses your result and observation with 3.5qt. I think the buffet casserole is too low and too wide to use for the bread.

      Quote: " I'm using a KitchenAid 3.5 quart 8.25 inch diameter Dutch oven that's 6.5 inches tall. I first tried a 5.75 quart 10 inch diameter Dutch oven but the loaf was too short and wide for my taste. The lid on this one is listed as safe to 500°".

      I don't have any DO around 5.0qt range so I cannot try it my self and compare with 3.5qt. It seems like a loaf in 5.0qt (even normal DO ) is going to be shorter and wider. He also used other versions of KNB recipes, too. Hope it is interesting for your next attempt.

      1. My husband makes a variation of that bread in a round LC with a #22 on it, 9" across. the only difference between his and yours is that he does not use any flour on the outside so his loaf comes out brown all over. Oh, he cooks it in preheated 450 pan for 30 min, lid off for 22.