Sunday, January 18, 2009

No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread

My friend Jane and I are constantly swapping recipes back and forth. She lives in Illinois where she works as a legal transcriptionist (fastest typist I know). She and I decided to give the New York Times No-Knead bread recipe a try using our Dutch ovens. She went first, starting her bread on Friday. She reported excellent results last night and said she loved the flavor of the bread as well as the crunchy crust. She's going to experiment with the recipe and try adding some dill seed as well as making some onion bread with it.

I got my dough ready and put it in the oven at 10 p.m. last night. It proofed for 14 hours before I got to stage two. I floured the heck out of a flour sack cloth towel, put the dough ball in and, following the instructions, let it rise another 2 hours. It baked for half an hour at 450° with me removing the lid halfway. This was a dangerous endeavor since I had to remove the rubberized handle from my lid before I put it in the oven since it can't handle temperatures over 375°!

I was amazed that the bread released right out of the Dutch oven
at the end of the baking time. It's very shiny and reminds me of French bread. The recipe is very similar, in fact, containing no sugar or oil. It's not a pretty loaf, with lumps and bumps all over it. There are obviously large bubbles on the surface, which is typical for a dough recipe like this one.

Would I do it again? I dunno. The dough stuck mightily to my kitchen towel even though I floured it generously. Taking the handle off the lid meant I had to wrestle with an extremely heavy, hot, handle-less cast iron lid--not for the weak or timid by any means. I have yet to taste this bread but we will give it a thorough taste test tonight at dinner.

The round shape of the loaf is charming and reminds me of the artisan bread that's all the rage these days. So if you like pompous bread, this is the loaf for you! As they say, the proof is in the pudding, so after tonight's taste test I may or may not bake this recipe again. You definitely have to plan for it because it has to rise for a mininum of 12 hours, with 18 hours being recommended. However, if you're stingy with your yeast you'll be happy to know that it takes only 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast.

***After Dinner Update***

The bread was delicious! Nice and chewy but not jaw-breaking. The crust doesn't try to tear your gums off and the flavor is very much like French bread. I made garlic bread with it and it was terrific! There were big bubbles in it that held the garlicky butter like little wells.

That said, this bread is a rough one to make. I think I'll stick with my tried and true method of letting the bread maker or stand mixer make the dough and baking the bread in bread pans instead of a 10 pound cast iron Dutch oven! Although, it is very comforting to know that if push comes to shove I can bake some bread in it.


  1. I'll be waiting for the taste test report.

    I made the NoKnead bread out of MotherEarthNews, been a while, but I think it turned out well, very hard on outside and soft inside. Next, I want to try the Sourdough that Suzanne made,

    How 'bout EGGcetera? for the little restaurant/concession trailer?

  2. Amy, if you decide to make the bread again, you can cover the handle with a couple layers of heavy duty aluminum foil, tightly wrapped. I did that and it was fine.

    That said, I'm not sure it's worth the cost of the gas or electric for the lengthy preheating time for the pan combined with the cooking time, plus cost of ingredients, when I can go to Kroger and buy a loaf of very good La Brea bread that I can chew without having a TMJ flare-up. Seriously, mine was so hard to chew that I could hear and feel my jaw popping. Maybe I did something wrong. I hope you have better success.

  3. Joanna, I love the name of the lunch wagon! I'm in! I never really developed a taste for sour dough. I don't know why either!

    Susan, good points. I hate tough crusts too. It shouldn't hurt to eat bread! I made some Parkerhouse rolls yesterday that are so tender and sweet that you feel like eating a dozen of them. I have them hidden or they will disappear for sure. I think humidity has a lot to do with how bread turns out. I noticed when I lifted the lid of the Dutch oven halfway thru the baking that a lot of steam escaped the pot. That steam determines how the crust turns out and if you don't have enough you end up with a rock. Your mileage may vary.

  4. I love your Dutch Oven and I'm glad your bread turned out ok and you didn't get burned in the process. Good looking bread.


  5. I did the same as Joanna and it came out good. I LOVE your dutch oven, very nice!

  6. I've made this bread a number of times but different than the recipe. I do the second rise on a piece of parchment paper and then cook it on my pizza stone on the parchment paper. No towel, no dumping into a hot pan, much easier and it turns out great. Just make sure you preheat the pizza stone.

  7. Chris, thank you. We'll turn into bakers in time! I havea lot to learn. There's definitely a learning curve when it comes to bread baking.

    Kim, thank you! It's Lodge's 6 quart Dutch oven in Caribbean Blue. It's a beast!

    Christy, well now that's pretty smart using a pizza stone. I'm definitely going to invest in a big pizza stone. I've heard that it can improve all kinds of baking techniques. I make homemade pizza once a week.

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  9. Sorry about the delete. I hadn't read your update. I'm glad yours turned out better than mine.

    The method that Christy mentioned is Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. It's in the Dec/Jan issue of Mother Earth or you can google.

  10. I saw this recipe a while back and wanted to try it. I even bought a dutch oven, but I also started a sourdough starter at roughly the same time. The sourdough starter has worked well for me and I've never gotten around to making the no-knead bread. I just don't keep yeast on hand! As far as the taste of sourdough, it's really dependent on your area and the wild yeasts you catch. San Francisco Sourdough is famous for the sour taste because of certain yeasts that are native to that area, but sourdough is a reference to the leavening of the bread, not the taste. I'm not a huge fan of the overly sour tasting sourdough bread, either.

  11. Well, I think it looks delicious even in the pic! I love those crusty with a chewy center type breads and it sounded wonderful made into garlic bread!

  12. You always make the best looking mouth is watering!


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