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Le Creuset interior discolored by NoKnead Bread - please help

I'm sure what I've got isn't that unusual, I just haven't found a way to fix it. My exterior is fine on the 5.5 Qt oven, but the interior is discolored to a medium brown with utensil scratches on the bottom.

Initially I cleaned it with barkeepers' friend and soaked it with soft scrub with bleach overnight and those attempts didn't work. I was scared to try anything too rough on the enamel.

I stopped making the bread ( oven at 500, parchment paper in bottom, knob covered with tin foil) because I couldn't stand what it was doing to my pot.

I still use it for chilis, stews, etc., and I hoped that over time, the discoloration would go away as I continued to cook in it and clean it. That hasn't happened, but I do notice items mildly sticking when I brown them.

Can anyone help?

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  1. I stopped worrying years ago about my Le Creuset being discolored. Consider it a badge of honor that shows you actually use the cookware.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Big Easy

      oh, I wish. I feel like a failure every time I see it and every time it emerges from the soapy water still discolored.

      1. re: Big Easy

        Quite right. Pristine Le Cruset , like skinny chefs should be treated with suspicion;)

        1. re: Big Easy

          >I stopped worrying years ago about my Le Creuset being discolored. Consider it a badge of honor that shows you actually use the cookware<

          Ditto for me. My 4.5 qt that I use most often is discolored. it started when I slightly scorched some white beans and has remained the same. I finally got over it. The pot still cooks as good as it ever did. The only cookware that stays looking brand spanking new, it the cookware you don't use. Just like everything else in life. I figure a couple generations from now, what we think is a new, scorched pot, others will see it as an old pot with character.

          1. re: dixiegal

            All right, thanks for chiming in. I guess an attitude adjustment is in order. And then I could go back to baking my bread!

            What's the deal with Ina Garten then? Maybe she cooks with a fresh pot every episode?

            1. re: Snorkelvik

              Hi, Snorkelvik:

              You can clean LC's light enamel pretty easily and effectively until it loses its gloss. After that, it's going to discolor pretty much no matter what you do.

              I too use my LC 5.5 round for NKB. In fact that's all i use it for any more. I simply hit the interior with Bon Ami or BKF after every 10-12 loaves.

              Oh, those cooking shows are busy trying to sell pans. If you saw a discolored piece, the producers know you'd be *less* likely to buy any.


        2. Good luck. I've tried everything after my husband burned something in my LC and nothing got it off. I even wasted the money on the LC cleaner after BKF didn't get it clean and nothing.

          1. <Le Creuset interior discolored by NoKnead Bread - please help>

            Very very normal. There is absolutely no point to worry about discoloration. If it really brothers you, then you can clean it up, but never to use it to do another no-knead bread.

            You best bet is to use bleach, and you said you did. I still try it again. Again, pour some diluted bleach in your pot. Cover it. Now, this is the danger part: turn up the heat. Then turn off the heat and let it sit. Heat will help remove the discoloration. Alternatively, it may be easier just to heat up the water first in the pot, then turn off the heat and then pour in the bleach into the very hot water.

            However, I must warn it. There is a significant difference between removing discoloration vs making the pot better. Your pot may very well perform worse off after getting bleached. Yes, it will look a lot whiter, but it won't cook better. Just a word of caution.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Once again, Cooks Illustrated to the rescue.

              They did a test where they took a couple of stained pots from the test kitchen and filled them with Le Creuset's recommended stain-removal solution of 1 teaspoon of bleach per 1 pint of water. The pots were slightly improved but still far from their original hue. They then tried a much stronger solution (which was OK'd by the manufacturer) of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water. After standing overnight, a lightly stained pot was just as good as new, but a heavily stained one required an additional night of soaking before it, too, was looking natty.

              Mr Taster

            2. I find that a very basic cast iron dutch oven works great for no knead bread -- I use a 5-qt Lodge with the loop handles which can be had for $35 at Target or WalMart. No issues with staining, no issues with the knob.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MikeB3542

                Yeah I got that same pot for nk bread because I felt nervous subjecting my LC to that treatment. It's perfect.

                1. re: MikeB3542

                  I don't make bread, but I have one of these just so I can abuse it without worry. I'll put a large whole chicken in there and throw it into a 550 degree oven so that dinner will be ready in an hour. Or, if it's summer, I'll throw it onto the bbq grill outside. Sometimes, you just need rustic batterie de cuisine around to do whatever you want with it and not worry!

                2. By the way, there is a modified recipe for no-knead bread that puts the cold dough in a cold dutch oven and then heat the oven to 425. When it reached temp, you cook for 30 minutes, then remove the lid, and bake until internet temp reaches 210F, about 10-15 minutes longer.

                  I've done it several times and it works great. Beats the hell out of manipulating a screaming hot 500F piece of metal.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. You don't HAVE to use your LC to bake the bread. I routinely bake mine in a 4.5 quart SS saucepan. In fact, I don't even own a piece of enameled cast iron.

                    Anything that can be preheated in your oven will do the trick. Remember, the oven spring comes from the initial blast of heat from the hot pan. You don't need a pan that holds onto heat to achieve that.

                    If you don't have a covered pan that will work, use foil for the lid.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: DuffyH

                      Hi, Duffy:

                      You mean I don't need my last remaining piece of LC after all?

                      I thought the idea was that the larger amount of heat stored in the thicker cast iron (as opposed to a thin SS vessel) was important for quickly steaming the loaf during the lid-on phase.

                      I would be interested in hearing from Hounds who have made the same recipe in pans of both SS and CI and can compare.


                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Good evening Kaleo,

                        Yeah, go ahead and kick that pot to the curb, you don't need it. ;)

                        I decided to try it in my saucepan (instead of my SS DO because of it's smaller diameter. I wanted a taller, rounder loaf and got it.

                        I got the idea to use it after reading an article (can't recall if it was the SE one) that suggested a heavy SS pot.

                      2. re: DuffyH

                        Two things need clarifying, DuffyH

                        The heavy enameled cast iron in a LC pot evens out the heat so that the bottom of the bread doesn't scorch at those extremely high temperatures.

                        You said you're using a 4.5 qt stainless steel saucepan. I don't know what brand or model you're using, or the thickness of the stainless steel, but I'm betting that it's not 100% entirely stainless or you'd likely up with a black, scorched bottom to your bread after 45 minutes in a 425-500F oven. (Although if you're using a thick, heavy gauge of steel for short periods of time, like making pizza on the baking steel, you can get great results.)


                        Stainless steel is a very poor conductor of heat, so I'd guess that you're probably using a clad pot with an aluminum core, which evens out heat like heavy cast iron (not as well as cast iron, but way better than a 100% stainless pot, which is good for boiling water and perhaps nothing else). So to say that all you need is a big stainless steel pot in order to successfully bake no-knead bread is not accurate. In any case, it is essential to know what brand/model of pot you're using, because all pots are not created equal... someone could take your advice, buy a cheap, thin $10 stainless steel pot from Walmart, and end up with a scorched mess. ("It worked for DuffyH-- why didn't it work for me?!")

                        Secondly, the lid. Professional bread ovens have steam injection. Home ovens obviously don't. The steam is responsible for creating a bakery quality crust. The reason why the no-knead bread gets such a deep, golden brown, crispy crackly crust is because the recipe creates an unusually wet dough, which goes into a 425-500F pot (depending on your recipe). The instant the wet dough hits the hot pot, steam instantly releases. You clamp on that heavy lid, and suddenly you've recreated a steam injected bakers oven type environment. That's the whole reason behind the success of crispy, crackly, deep golden brown no-knead bread crust. (More knowledgable Chowhounds can feel free to explain the science as to why this is... I've had it explained to me several times and I never seem to remember.)

                        The heavy cast iron lid of a LC pot does a lot to help trap that important steam inside the pot. If you throw on a light lid (or, *gulp*, just a sheet of foil?!) you're going to lose a LOT of steam, and the resulting crust won't be nearly as golden, crispy and crackly as it otherwise might be.

                        Before no-knead bread, home bakers were always trying to rig up their ovens to fill them with steam by various means... pans of boiling water in the bottom of the oven, etc. The no-knead bread technique finally was the key to simulating this well, and the results speak for themselves.

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          ....answering my own question, here's the science behind no-knead bread.


                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            Mr Taster,

                            It's a Calphalon Tri-Ply 4.5 Quart saucepan. Note that in the SE article, Kenji talks about dumping the heat into the bread. Arguably, a clad pan is going to do this better than cast iron, which is about heat retention.

                            And no, it doesn't scorch.

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              Hi DuffyH, you said you bake your bread in a stainless steel saucepan, but that's not specific enough for a newbie who might be reading this in the future. Your original post read as if someone could go out and get any stainless (i.e. not clad) saucepan and get the same results, and that's not true. It's got to be a heavy pot (i.e. a good conductor of heat), with a heavy lid (or at least a good thick rim of heavy duty foil to trap steam) in order to maximize steam retention, in order to get optimal results. Your clad pot (and the dutch oven) both are good conductors of heat, but any old "4.5 quart SS saucepan" is not. That's all I was getting at in clarifying your statement.

                              Mr Taster

                      3. This happened to my Lodge cast iron enamel years ago, due to ANKB with parchment.
                        No biggie!
                        Real kitchens don't look like the Food Network kitchens!
                        That said, I won't use any other vessel for my ANKB so that they stay pristine-ish, but my Lodge works just fine for anything and everything after years of loving use.

                        1. Glad to know I'm not the only one with this problem.

                          Mine is that I wore away some of the enamel trying to remove burnt on crud with bar keeper's friend and I'm pretty Le Crueset will say user error and voided warranty due to the one small scratch from something.

                          Badge of honor, I guess, cause that was the Best wedding gift I got. And now I"ve been seduced by the Le crueset side. . .

                          1. I have an old Descoware (Julia Child''s choice) pot that I purchased on EBay that I use for the NK bread. It was a bit discolored on the inside when I bought it, but I adore that wonderful old pot!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: bevwinchester

                              Having foresight, it's a really good idea to buy an older, used piece for bread and spare the "good stuff".

                              1. re: monavano

                                here, here! I wish I knew this way back when!

                            2. I don't believe the bread is responsible for utensil scratches. The Creuset is supposed to be a workhorse, not a trailer queen. Put it to use, enjoy...for $200 or more, I sure would

                              1. My LE Creuset pots are some 20 years old and look pretty decent. Have done everything in them, from no-kneed bread to... Gosh, everything. Someone told me this trick yonks ago: boil water in pan. Add goodly amount of baking soda (quarter cup?). Boil until dry. You will be left with a baking soda crust. Wash off. Voila!

                                1 Reply
                                1. I know this is an older post but I just want to add my most recent experience with my dutch oven. I was slow cooking pulled port over 6 hours+ this was the result having not checked it (I got lazy and trusted my dutch oven to much).

                                  Once I saw the damage - everything literally burnt on I thought it would be destroyed. Fortunately I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Added 1/2 cup of baking soda and boiling water... left it over night and walah! To be fair I did have to use some elbow grease and wash it a few times but it is literally back to brand new!

                                  I am yet to receive any discolouration or burning etc.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: CitrineCookLove

                                    Cooking break with parchment paper is just different. That's amazing that your post came out so good, but this discoloration can't be scraped or gently coaxed off.

                                    I have found that lining the bottom of the enameled pot with tin foil prevents staining.
                                    I wish I discovered this before discoloring my Lodge!
                                    It works just fine, though.

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      I always bake bread with parchment paper, it has no effect at all on the end result, and is less sticky than foil.

                                  2. Old post I know but no knead bread recipes should come with a warning regarding your precious Le Creuset - Bread baking is rough on pans. I have two very old worn out LC Dutch ovens that are relegated pretty much only to this purpose - but if you have a new creamy white interior LC DO freshly received from your wedding registry you may think twice about using it for this purpose.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: JTPhilly

                                      The foil lining really does work if you don't have another option. Doesn't affect results.

                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                        Hi, JTP:

                                        +1 on sparing the pristine enamel (and knob). My stained, chipped, cracked 5.5 round is only used for NKB these days. I never even clean it anymore-- just upend and spank her until the ash drops out.

                                        To the OP: If you bake much NKB, my suggestion is this will happen to you eventually, so either get a better pan for other uses, OR get a second oven for showing off/keeping nice.


                                        1. re: JTPhilly

                                          For anyone wanting to save their enamel, a thick clad stainless pot works really well. I made mine in a 4 quart saucepan with stellar results. I chose it initially because I felt it's smaller size would result in a rounder, taller loaf. It did.

                                          I did a lot of research before using the saucepan, and it was pretty much agreed by the guys who write the recipes that any heavy vessel would work well for NK bread. YMMV, but it worked really well for me. Just be sure it's a heavy clad pan.