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Sticky Question re: no-Knead Bread

I've made many dozens of no-knead breads over recent years, but just recently, two times in a row, I've had a problem with the dough sticking in the enameled cast iron pot so firmly that I end up destroying the bottom crust in getting the loaf out. Odd thing is that I've used this very pot without such a problem before. Here are some possible variables to explain the new normal:

1. The pot itself has developed a lot of staining that I have been unable to scrub away. There's not crud or anything on the enamel, but it is definitely darkened from high-heat baking. THe pot is branded KitchenAid, is 5 quarts or so, and it cost about $80.

2. Because I've recently observed that no-knead breads work pretty well at numerous different moisture levels, it's possible that these doughs are not as hydrated as they should be, but I do think that one of them was pretty wet and it still stuck.

3. The doughs were genuine sour-dough rather than commercial yeasted, but that has worked fine before.

Any ideas?

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  1. Make it in a different vessel and see whether you have the same problem. Any vessel that is 3-5 qts should work. The last time I made it I used a Corningware casserole.

    1. I do not think your dough hydration is an issue of sticking, I think the development of "stains" and crusty stuff maybe your problem of sticking. I guess try and clean it off a bit more or what I usually do, thin coat of oil on the bottom and a good dusting on the bottom of the bread. I have not had any issues in this method.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jester99

        Just kinda cut a rounded piece of parchment & sprinkle some wheat bran or flour on bottom of the parchment....nothing sticks to parchment. Or you could even use some cornmeal.

      2. The discolored areas on the enamel suggest overheating at one time or another. These areas will cause foods to stick to the surface. Additionally, enameled finishes do not like abrasive cleaners. Cleaning powders, abrasive pads, etc. produce scratches (microscopic though they may be) in the enamel, exposing the raw material beneath the surface. Those exposed areas will cause foods to stick. I would concur with "cstout" ... cut some parchment paper and use it, with or without the addition of corn meal or similar material, to separate your bread dough from the surface of the pan and enjoy the results.

        1. I'm in the parchment crowd. It makes putting the dough in so easy and removing the bread is easy. You could also season your cast iron and see if that helps.

          6 Replies
          1. re: chowser

            Are you referring to using parchment instead of a floured towel? If so, could you let me know how you do that?

            1. re: nofunlatte

              I think they're referring simply to lining the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking. I think you'd still need the towel; you'd just be transferring from the towel to the parchment lining instead of the bare pot.

              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                I don't use a towel. I use the CI version of no knead bread, which calls for the final rise to occur on a piece of parchment which is then used to move dough to hot pan, sort of like a sling. Works great.

                1. re: CanadaGirl

                  So you put the dough, in its sling, into the pot? If so, the parchment between dough and pot should solve OP's problem.

              2. re: nofunlatte

                Just as CanadaGirl described, I do the stretches and folds and then turn it out onto parchment. Let rest, covered, and then slip into the pot--super easy.

            2. I don't know if this will help with your problem, but I recently used a solution of Oxi-clean and warm water to remove the discoloration in one of my enameled CI pots, and it worked wonders to get rid of the darkened spots.

              2 Replies
              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                My enameled pot is more than 25 years old. We occasionally clean it with Soft Scrub to remove discoloration. (And, regardless that there evidently are some abrasives in SS, it's not affected the surface -- at least it's fine for no-knead bread, which I've made in it more than once.)

                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  I've used Bartender's friend, but I will try the Oxi-Clean since I have some on hand. Thanks.

                2. Thanks for all the great ideas. About parchment, I have used that, and it works okay. My only misgiving is that when I use it as a sling a la Cooks Illustrated, the parchment invariably bunches up on the sides and distorts the crust shape. Just a cosmetic issue. It hadn't occured to me to cut a parchment circle just for the bottom.

                  About heat: my oven goes to 550, but I usually cook the bread at 500 or a bit lower...